Armando Salguero: Bengals Reward Coach Zac Taylor Who Sends Message To Rest Of AFC

Zac Taylor's coaching record before the start of the 2021 season was a cringe-worthy 6-25. Yeah, the guy was another rough season from becoming the Cincinnati Bengals' next ex-head coach.

But catching a Super Bowl wave has benefits, and now the coach whose record had people looking at him sideways last year just got a contract extension.

And he's feeling so good about it, he's thinking the Bengals now own the path to the Super Bowl for 2022.

"The path to the Super Bowl in the AFC is going to be in some cold weather environments," Taylor told reporters Wednesday. "We want that to be here in Cincinnati. The path to the Super Bowl goes through here."

Taylor has the Bengals on that path, having led them to Super Bowl LVI, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. And he'll see the journey along that path for a while longer because the club announced he'd signed a contract extension through the 2026 season.

"It all took place yesterday," Taylor said of negotiations with club owner Mike Brown, "and that's just between me and Mike and the family. It didn't take long. We're on the same page. I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for the opportunity I've been given here. And, who knows, if I hadn't been hired by the Bengals, would I ever be a head coach? I have no idea.

"So I'll always be appreciative of the opportunity that Mike and the family gave me. I'm happy here. My family loves it here. I love coming in the building every day. I love everybody I interact with. So it's not a difficult decision to move forward on something when everyone's on the same page that way."

Taylor announced that quarterback Joe Burrow emerged from the 23-20 Super Bowl loss with a sprained MCL, which is a re-aggravation of an injury he suffered in December. He will not require surgery.

"He's going to get some much needed rest here these next couple of weeks and expect him to come back fully healthy," Taylor said.

Tight end C.J. Uzomah suffered a knee injury that typically requires 4-to-8 weeks of recovery but played in the Super Bowl after two weeks. He was scheduled to have an MRI Wednesday, but the Bengals remain hopeful he also will not require any surgery.

Taylor said while there are some "clean-up" surgeries planned for some players, there is nothing serious in the works.

"For the most part, everyone's on pace to be back for next season, " Taylor said.

Taylor declined to underline the Bengals' obvious need at offensive line as an offseason priority. That offensive front allowed seven sacks in the Super Bowl to go with the 10 sacks it allowed in its two previous postseason games and the 70 sacks of Burrow for the season.

"I think we'll look to improve the team in any way we can, you know, and not specific to one necessary group," Taylor said.

Yeah, well, if this is how the personnel department truly feels, then maybe the path to the Super Bowl won't go through Cincinnati.

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"Like we always do, we talk about a lot of different things. This isn't a once-a-month thing where you have to cover all these different topics you haven't covered in 30 days.

"First of all every year you have to have that same urgency.

"It all took place yesterday. And thats between me and Mike and the family. It didn't take long.

If I hadn't been hired by the Bengals would I have an opportunity to be a head coach. It's not a difficult decision to move forward when everyone's on the same page that way."

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Armando Salguero is a national award-winning columnist and is OutKick's Senior NFL Writer. He has covered the NFL since 1990 and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a voter for the Associated Press All-Pro Team and Awards. Salguero, selected a top 10 columnist by the APSE, has worked for the Miami Herald, Miami News, Palm Beach Post and ESPN as a national reporter. He has also hosted morning drive radio shows in South Florida.