Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor knows four wins in two years isn’t good enough even with five of eight losses this season decided by less than a touchdown.
But he maintains belief in his approach and said the pressure he feels to win games wouldn’t be any different if the season was going better.
The Bengals are coming off a 19-17 loss to the New York Giants that dropped them to 2-8-1 this season and 4-22-1 overall under Taylor. They now are preparing for a road game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, a rematch of a wild meeting last year that ended in a 38-35 overtime loss for Cincinnati.
“I feel pressure every single day to be urgent, to do my job, to the best I can,” Taylor said Monday. “It shouldn’t change. If you believe in the way that you’re approaching things and what your mission is it shouldn’t change based on wins and losses. We tell the guys we want consistent players who walk in the building every single day and we know what to expect from them. I sure as heck am not going to be any different than I was the day I showed up on the job. I believe in what this staff has asked these players to do. I believe that the players have bought in and that they know this is the right way to do it, and we’re not going to change our personalities or the way we go about our business just because of the trials that we’ve faced.”
With five games left, the Bengals have nothing to look forward to beyond the chance to play a game they enjoy and try to build momentum for 2021. They haven’t officially been eliminated from the playoffs, but only two teams in the league have worse records – the Jaguars are 1-10 and the Jets 0-11.
Fans at this point are pulling for a better draft pick, but Taylor said wins still matter to his staff and the players.
“That’s all we work for,” Taylor said. “All of our time and energy, you saw the work that went inside the facility. The coaching staff, players, every second of our day is geared toward winning a football game and putting ourselves in a position to win. It’s all we think about, it’s all we care about, it’s all we work for. That’s all that matters to us, improving everything about this team and this organization every single day, but at the end of the day we fight for wins. … We’re all sick and tired of this feeling, so all that matters to us is finding ways to win games, and we don’t really care about all the other stuff. We just want to win.”
Facing Miami this week is a reminder of the fight the Bengals gave last year even heading into the final two games with just one win and the No. 1 draft pick on the line. Cincinnati scored 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime, where the Dolphins prevailed on a 37-yard field goal with 3:19 left.
That sealed Joe Burrow’s fate as the Bengals’ top draft pick, and the Bengals responded in the finale with a 10-point win over the Cleveland Browns. Cincinnati got its first two wins of 2020 in the first half of the season and faces five more opportunities to add to that total.
“I think it’s just got to be something internal,” defensive end Sam Hubbard said about finding motivation for the final five games. “You’ve got to love the game, and you’ve got to have some pride in yourself and what you put on tape. How you are when things are going this way and adversity strikes, it really shows who you are as a person and as a player to your teammates and coaches. It’s really going to reveal yourself and I just try to never waver in the positives and negatives and that’s what I’m going to be doing these last five weeks, staying up and trying to bring some guys with me.”
Hubbard said it hasn’t been easy dealing with the frustration of losing, but he still believes the Bengals can turn things around.
“Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating,” Hubbard said. “My first three years have not gone the way you’d like them to as far as playing in the playoffs and goals and stuff like that. It does get frustrating, working hard throughout the week and get losses at the end of the week and not getting that reward weighs on you. You’ve got one option and that option is to keep going and keep working and that’s what I choose to do. Keeping the faith that things are going to turn around.”
Bengals at Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7
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