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CINCINNATI (AP) — After 16 years without a playoff win under Marvin Lewis Womens Clint Boling Jersey , the Bengals decided to try something different. But they had to wait more than a month before hiring Zac Taylor as their next coach in hopes of ending a long streak of futility.Taylor’s already been in town enough to know the history.The Rams quarterbacks coach reached a deal Monday a few hours after LA’s 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl at Atlanta. Cincinnati had to wait until after the title game to make his hiring official. The Bengals and Dolphins were the last two teams to fill head coaching vacancies, with Miami getting the Patriots’ Brian Flores.After three straight losing seasons and 28 years without a playoff victory, Cincinnati joined the latest wave — turning to a young, offensive-minded coach.“Zach is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL,” owner Mike Brown said in a statement. “And he’s young. He embraces new ideas and new ways to do things, which will be a good thing for us.”Taylor is the Bengals’ youngest head coach since they hired Dave Shula at age 32 in in 1992. Shula went on to lose 50 games faster than any coach in NFL history, finishing 19-52.The Bengals will introduce Taylor on Tuesday in what amounts to a homecoming for the 35-year-old coach.Taylor has a head start, familiar with the city’s affinity for chili parlors. He was offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati in 2016, when the Bearcats finished 4-8. Coach Tommy Tuberville was replaced after the season, and Taylor headed back to the NFL.He also knows about the professional football team’s longstanding futility, too. During his one year in town, the Bengals were starting their streak of three straight losing seasons that ultimately cost Lewis his job .Taylor is taking a cue from his father-in-law, a former NFL head coach, in how to handle his new job.“My father-in-law, Mike Sherman, coached a long, long time, and he just said, ‘Be true to yourself. Be who you are, and people will follow you Tyler Boyd Jersey White ,'” Taylor said during Super Bowl week. “And I found that way to work for me.”His challenge is reminiscent of what Lewis faced when he arrived in 2003. He’ll be counted upon only to win games, but also to win back fans turned off by the owner’s aversion to change.Brown was loyal to Lewis and stuck with him despite an 0-7 mark in the playoffs, the worst in NFL history for a head coach. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season under Sam Wyche, tied with Washington for the fifth-longest streak of postseason futility in league history.Since then, Shula, Bruce Coslet, Dick LeBeau and Lewis failed to get a playoff win. They managed only seven winning seasons combined, all by Lewis.Crowds at Paul Brown Stadium have shrunk each of the last three years, with the Bengals finishing next-to-last in the NFL attendance last season. By bringing in an outsider as head coach, the Bengals hope to send a message that things are changing.It won’t be easy in the short-term.Last season, the Bengals had their youngest team in Lewis’ 16 years, and the inexperienced showed. Also, they’ve been unsettled at the coordinator positions in recent years, adding to the challenge. Quarterback Andy Dalton will be working under his third different coordinator in the last three seasons. The defense will have its fourth coordinator in three years — Lewis moved into the role last season after firing Teryl Austin.Taylor’s work with quarterbacks made him a head coaching prospect.He wasn’t much of a quarterback prospect himself. Undrafted out of Oklahoma, he played one year as a backup with Winnipeg in the CFL.He joined the Dolphins in 2012 and helped Ryan Tannehill develop into one of the league’s top passers. He took over as offensive coordinator for five games in 2015 after Bill Lazor — the Bengals’ coordinator last season — was fired. After the one season at the University of Cincinnati, Taylor hooked up with the Rams to work with Jared Goff.Now he’s going to run an entire team.“A lot of things stand out about him, but Zac is so good at communication and being open and honest,” Goff said. “He’s a lot like Sean (McVay) in that way. He’s got a bright future.” Forget Carrie Underwood. Well, don’t forget her, she’s terrific.But the NFL’s theme song these days belongs to Maren Morris, Zedd and Grey. You know http://www.thebengalslockerroom.com/authentic-joe-mixon-jersey , “Meet Me In The Middle.”That’s where a bevy of NFL teams sat through Week 14 — all with shots, both reasonable and long, at making the playoffs.Take a deep breath and consider:—Seattle and Dallas at 8-5.—Pittsburgh at 7-5-1.—Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tennessee and Miami at 7-6.—Minnesota at 6-6-1.—Philadelphia, Carolina, Denver and Washington at 6-7.—Green Bay and Cleveland at 5-7-1.And, yes, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati and the New York Giants at 5-8.All are alive for the postseason.Even Atlanta, at 4-9, if you can imagine, isn’t eliminated.Just what the league loves heading toward Christmas: charity for nearly all.So let first-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel play the Grinch, trying to ignore any playoff chatter as his team heads to the Meadowlands to face the Giants.“We haven’t talked much. We try to eliminate all the scenarios,” he says. “The only scenario that we try to focus on is our preparation right now as we head into a road game against the Giants.“You could talk about scenarios all day. There’s scenarios where the Dolphins give up two punt blocks and score on a 70-yard hook-and-ladder; a scenario where a player jumps offside on a third-and-1 in a four-minute situation; a situation where a team executes a 50-yard hook-and-ladder and then the kicker slips. Those are all the scenarios that are crazy that happen in this league every week, so the one we’re going to try to focus on is our preparation versus the Giants.”Fair enough, because all of the playoff-qualifying scenarios for this week are enough to spark a migraine.The questions that should be raised are:—Is all of this competitive balance or simply mediocrity? Oasis or swamp?—Is it good for the NFL that such spiraling messes as the Falcons and Bengals remain in the running?—Do people really want to see a .500 (or worse) team playing in January, perhaps against a 14-2 opponent?LEVEL OF PERFORMANCENearly all the teams in the middle of the standings belong there. It’s fair to point out that the Redskins, Bengals and Falcons have been severely damaged by injuries — hey, Cincinnati was once 4-1 and Washington held the top spot in the NFC East until its current four-game slide.Still Jessie Bates III Jersey White , there’s a flawed bunch of “contenders” for the playoffs. They are profiting because they are keeping company with equally blemished clubs.All of them have had impressive stretches and pretty much unwatchable ones, though Seattle and Dallas probably don’t deserve to be lumped with the stragglers because they seem to be legitimate threats to do something in January.What’s missing with the others is the consistency that the top teams possess. Look at the Colts, who went from 1-1 to 1-5, then won five in a row, only to get blanked at lowly Jacksonville before going to Houston, the league’s hottest team, and winning.FORGET THEMDo fans in Atlanta and Cincinnati and Washington envision any sort of turnaround in the final three games that would lift those teams into the postseason? Do those clubs’ front offices?They shouldn’t, even as the NFL boasts that 26 teams still have a shot at the Super Bowl.One likely good thing about such deficient teams being in the running in mid-December is that it should cool talk of expanding the playoff field — something that virtually would guarantee impostors getting in.MISMATCHESOnce in a while, a team scrapes into the postseason and catches fire. Wild-carders have won the Super Bowl often enough to keep that dream alive once you get in.But should, say, a 7-8-1 Packers or 8-8 Lions sneak in, does that make for must-watch TV in the playoffs? Is a game with 8-8 Miami at 12-4 Houston enticing?SEEDINGSWhat is nice about the chase in December is the intrigue of seedings. The general feeling in the AFC is that avoiding a trip to Foxborough in January is necessary. So, the other division winners not only want and likely need to win their games, they’re hoping the Patriots, currently seeded second, don’t win out. Kansas City tops the conference right now, but barely.The NFC is a two-team race for the top spot between the Saints and Rams, who met in a high-scoring affair won by host New Orleans in early November. Both are 11-2, making their final three weeks critical in that race.And then they have the prospect of sitting out wild-card weekend while a team or two emerging from the quagmire stokes up its fan base before probably getting routed.

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