Cincinnati suffered an ugly 38-3 loss to Baltimore in the finale Sunday to remove the optimism that followed two firsts under Taylor with a primetime win over the Steelers and a road victory at Houston in Weeks 15 and 16. The Bengals finished 4-11-1 with five losses by a touchdown or less.
“Our fans wanted a fresh new direction two years ago, and that is what we aimed to do in hiring a bright, energetic head coach in Zac Taylor,” Brown said in the statement. “We remain bullish on the foundation Zac is building, and we look forward to next year giving our fans the winning results we all want. In Zac’s two years, we have added many new starters and contributors through the draft, we have invested heavily in free agency, and we have acquired a talented young quarterback with a bright future.”
“This season we faced challenges with injuries at key positions and missed opportunities,” Brown continued. “I am proud of our football team for fighting hard through adversity. That adversity and hard work will help us next season. We’ll enter the offseason looking to shore up our weaknesses and amplify the strengths of our talented young core. We are not discouraged, but instead feel motivated and confident that next year will reap the benefits of the work that has been done to date. We must capitalize on the opportunities in front of us. Next year we will earn our stripes.”
The Bengals finished the season with 10 players on injured reserve, including quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Joe Mixon, receivers John Ross and Auden Tate, defensive tackles D.J. Reader, Geno Atkins and Renell Wren, left tackle Jonah Williams, tight end C.J. Uzomah and cornerback Trae Waynes. Reader and Waynes joined the team as free agents in the offseason, and Reader played just five games while Waynes missed the entire season.
Burrow, the No. 1 draft pick last April, tore his ACL and MCL in a Week 11 loss at Washington and has been rehabbing in California, where he had the surgery. The hope is he can be ready for the start of the 2021 season. Cincinnati has the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to help build around him.
Though Taylor’s job is safe, reports indicate several assistants will not be returning. Taylor said Sunday any decisions related to his staff will be made clear this week.