Zac Taylor credits 2021 assistant coaching hires as important part of Bengals turnaround


An influx of talent from both the draft and free agency over the past two offseasons has been a major reason for the Bengals’ ascension to the Super Bowl. Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, Trey Hendrickson, DJ Reader, Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie and so many others spearheaded this radical turnaround.

However, unannounced assistant-level coaching additions have also contributed to the Bengals’ success this season. During the Bengals’ first official press conference of “Media Week” at the Super Bowl, Taylor spoke of a trio of assistants who particularly helped matters.

Cincy Jungle contributor Anthony Cosenza took part in the virtual session and asked about contributions from wide receivers coach Troy Walters, defensive line coach Marion Hobby and the offensive line Frank Pollack, respectively.

“I think a general statement would be that they go above and beyond,” Taylor said. “They really teach the details of their position, and they rely on their guys to have that consistency because they’ve had it since August… I think that’s what’s key: they don’t back down, they don’t take not a break, and they stayed on these guys every step of the way and that’s why these units have been pretty consistent.

Bengals wide receivers have had good seasons in 2020, of course. Higgins sniffed a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, despite Burrow playing just 10 games and the rookie’s few minor injuries. Tyler Boyd continued his consistent ability to be a chain threat last year, but everything took a big leap forward in 2021.

Chase had a rookie season for the record books, while Higgins eclipsed that 1,000-yard mark and Boyd continues to be a key offensive weapon. Taylor praised Walters in the presser, noting his familiarity with him since their time at Texas A&M and his ability to elevate the post group’s already high production level.

“He (Walters) has done a tremendous job raising the standard for this room and getting the best out of these guys,” Taylor said of Walters.

Of Pollack, Taylor noted he was the least familiar with him of the trio, but knew the organization liked the offensive line coach from his previous brief stint with the club a few years ago.

“He’s been a great fit – I really enjoy working hand in hand with Frank,” Taylor said. “He’s done a great job with this O-Line, this racing game as a whole – he’s creating a great plan that he believes in and the players believe in. He’s been a great asset there.”

There are lingering concerns on the offensive line, but Pollack has taken a lot out of this group. Driving penalties were down significantly from recent previous groups, while Joe Mixon finished his best professional season.

Obviously, there is room for improvement, but everyone agrees that Pollack had a positive impact on the band compared to his predecessor. And, Pollack’s designation as “Running Game Coordinator” this year has also been a big plus for the team.

However, one of the biggest strides in improving the overall positional group has been on the defensive line. Improved health and the additions of Hendrickson, Larry Ogunjobi and BJ Hill all made a big difference.

“Marion Hobby – we hired him from the Dolphins and you talk about a guy with no ego, he just wants to get the best out of his players,” Taylor concluded. “He has integrated very well with the staff and in the defensive staff room. He certainly has a great group too, but he makes the most of it. These guys believe in him and what he teaches them and how he helps them improve.

It’s all part of the culture and everyone buys into the vision that Taylor has laid out for each layer of his team. Conviction, hard work and an innovative and aggressive approach got the team to the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years.

If you needed more proof, Taylor ended her response with “I’m glad you mentioned those three guys – they did an amazing job for us.”

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