Cincinnati's coaching search seems to have zeroed in on its target.
Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor has emerged as the favorite to land the Bengals head coaching job, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Taylor, who still has a playoff game to prepare for, has not been informed he's the favorite and no negotiations have taken place, but signs point to him, Rapoport added.
The Bengals are committed to not serving as a detriment to any team's playoff preparation, but they were able to interview Taylor during Los Angeles' recent bye week. That interview was apparently enough to convince the Bengals they want to pick from the suddenly expansive Sean McVay coaching tree. One source told Rapoport they hope their next coach walks in with a Super Bowl ring but won't make any moves for a hire until that team is out of the playoffs.
There's an element of risk when making such a decision before getting a coach in the building or at least his representation on the phone to talk dollars. Indianapolis had an agreement with Josh McDaniels for him to become the Colts' next head coach last January, but when the Patriots fell in Super Bowl LII, McDaniels developed second thoughts and ended up walking away from the job and a partially hired staff. And there's also the time lost in attempting to assemble a staff of coordinators and assistants, which is even more important for a first-time head coach.
As for Taylor, he's another potentially meteoric riser in this unusual coaching cycle that has seen Kliff Kingsbury, Matt LaFleur and Freddie Kitchens all land jobs despite lacking extensive experience as a coordinator. Taylor's leap would be just as great, if not greater, considering he's spent the last two seasons with the Rams as a position coach (wide receivers in 2017 and quarterbacks in 2018) and is 35 years old. He has served as an OC in an interim role back in 2015 as part of interim head coach Dan Campbell's staff in Miami. He then moved to the collegiate ranks to take the same position at the University of Cincinnati.
It would still be an exciting hire for Cincinnati because it's a head coach not named Marvin Lewis, who parted ways with the Bengals after 16 seasons at the helm. It took Cincinnati a lot to make a change, but Taylor stands to potentially invigorate a franchise that felt stale in recent seasons and still has enough offensive talent to produce some immediate success.