No one has ever been happier to be 1-11 than Zac Taylor.
The first-year Bengals coach was red-eyed and emotional in the wake of his team’s win over the Jets, the first of his watch and one that took 300 days to arrive.
“These guys fought their tails off the last nine months waiting for a moment like this,” Taylor said in the aftermath, via Paul Dehner of TheAthletic.com.
That puts into perspective the long road this has been for the 36-year-old Taylor, who is less than a year removed from being part of the wave of Sean McVay clones to be vaulted into jobs, certain to revolutionize the game. The Bengals got rid of Marvin Lewis for playing .500 football and losing in the playoffs, but the step back to where they are now is stark and made it difficult to stay positive.
“It’s easy to give up,” Taylor said. “It’s even easier to start pointing fingers. That’s what we didn’t see anybody do. It speaks to the leadership we have, throughout the building, really, that we have stuck together and find the positives. . . .
“You’re up there and saying it; well, nobody is believing that, but it’s the truth. Eventually, it will help you when we get everything on the right path.”
The Bengals insist that they’re on it, which may be why they gave Taylor a game ball after the long wait.
“We know Zac’s gonna have a hell of a career,” veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “But this season hasn’t started off the way that any childhood dream of being a head coach would have started or drawn up. But we wanted him to remember this moment, regardless of how the season has went.”
It will clearly be remembered. But for a day, finally, Taylor was able to enjoy it.