Twelve rows into the upper deck, right in the middle of Paul Brown Stadium, there is a large black and orange sign affixed to the wall. It reads:
“ZAC tly What the DR ordered!”
It’s meant to celebrate 35-year-old Zac Taylor, the Cincinnati Bengals’ new head coach who was making his home coaching debut Sunday as his team took on the San Francisco 49ers.
»RELATED: 5 takeaways from blowout loss
But the only doctor that came to mind on this afternoon was Dr. Jack Kervorkian.
He was the suicide doctor, known especially in the 1990s as the public champion of physician-assisted suicides for terminally ill patients.
The 41 points were the most ever given up by Cincinnati in a home opener.
The 571 yards amassed by the 49ers were the fifth most by an opponent in franchise history
The Bengals couldn’t tackle, couldn’t block and couldn’t run the ball. And quarterback Andy Dalton wasn’t that good throwing it either.
The 49ers play sheet had Cincinnati off balance all day, but in the end the Bengals’ wounds were self inflicted.
“This loss is not really about what they did to us,” said Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. “It’s about what we did to ourselves. We could have played better. We could have blocked better and tackled better. We lost this game. It’s on us. We gotta own our (crap).”
Cincinnati center Trey Hopkins was of the same mind:
“We did everything possible to lose this game. This is more about what we did poorly or incorrectly to lose the game than what they did to us.”
Taylor was straight forward in his postgame summation: “We were not good in any phase. This is not something we’re going to run from…We got blown out at home.”
In the season opener a week earlier in Seattle the Bengals – even with a 21-20 loss – had a lot to be optimistic about. Dalton had been superb. The defense had played well.
But this was a fiasco right from the start.
On the very first play, Dalton was sacked and on the next play – with the Bengals pinned on their own four yard line – running back Joe Mixon fumbled. He recovered the ball himself, but he would not be a factor the rest of the day and finished with just 17 yards on 11 carries.
The Bengals were at their worst in the third quarter when San Francisco amassed 222 yards – and 10 unanswered points – to Cincinnati’s eight total yards.
But then the fans had had enough. There were boos and by early in the fourth quarter many in the crowd of 50,666 were making for the exits.
It was a scene that harkened back to some of the most disappointing days during the Marvin Lewis era. Back when the team finished 4-11-1 in 2008 and 4-12 in 2010 the early exoduses were an almost every Sunday sight.
By the end of this game the stands were glaringly empty and that rankled Mixon for one.
That’s definitely frustrating to see….when you see a lot of fans leaving and booing…At the end of the day we want to win too. If they feel they can do better, they can come try out.”
Taylor though understood: “We were playing poorly in all three phases. That’s not anything to be excited about if I was a fan in the stands that paid money to come out to this game. It’s on us to fix the issues that we have and play better and the fans will rally behind that. Right now we didn’t give them a good enough product to be excited about.”
Hopkins agreed: “We can’t put a product like that on the field ever again.”
There were a couple of bright spots Sunday.
William Jackson picked off a Jimmy Garoppolo pass, the first interception by a Bengals cornerback in over a year
And receiver John Ross III again showed his speed, catching an Dalton pass in the waning moments of the game and racing away from the 49ers defense, 66 yards for a touchdown . Two weeks into the season he has 270 receiving yards and three TDs.
For all the things that went wrong, the most disconcerting may be the injury to rookie guard Michael Jordan. He was taken off the field on a cart after injuring his knee early in the fourth quarter.
He’s been one of the feel-good stories on this team.
As a youngster he grew up in Cincinnati and became a Bengals fan soon after several of the team’s stars – including Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson – came to park near his school and he got to be around them.
His dad was a Roger Bacon High School grad. His grandpa was a fireman at Bond Hill. Even when his dad’s job took him to Michigan, Johnson remained a Bengals fan and was ecstatic when the team drafted him out of Ohio State.
His loss would be a real blow to an already injury-plagued line.
Kirkpatrick thinks the team came change things around quickly: “We can fix this in a day…I’ve seen teams in this league go 0-3 and win the Super Bowl.”
And Jackson thinks Taylor is the just the coach to get them turned around:
“We love him. He’s a great guy, a great coach., We just have to play better for him and we will. He’ll bring it out of us. He has a lot of energy. He’s smart. He’s a brilliant coach and he knows how to treat his players.
“I love him dearly.”
So maybe Zac Taylor is what the doctor ordered.
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