Top 3 questions facing Ravens and their AFC North foes
1. Will a fresh start with Zac Taylor as the head coach help the Bengals?
When John Harbaugh became the Ravens head coach in 2008 nobody expected an AFC Championship appearance from him. A new head coach brings a culture change to a franchise. We are about to find out if Marvin Lewis was holding the Bengals back or if this team just isn’t that good. Zac Taylor spent last season as the Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach and now he is in charge in Cincinnati. That is a big jump for Taylor, just like it was for Harbaugh coming up as a special teams coach.
Taylor could be exactly what the Bengals need. If anybody is going to get something more out of Andy Dalton you would think it would be Sean McVay’s protege. If he can bring the kind of high powered offense to the Bengals, they could outperform their low expectations in the 2019 season. Dalton has had some strong seasons in the NFL and he has three Pro Bowl appearances to prove it. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon make up a decent set of weapons.
The Bengals are hoping that change equals innovation. The coaching change is the biggest x-factor in all of this. Marvin Lewis was the coach since 2003. The fact of the matter is that nobody knows what the Bengals will look like without Lewis on the sideline.
2. Is Andy Dalton a placeholder or the franchise quarterback moving forward?
The Bengals probably didn’t draft Andy Dalton’s successor when they took Ryan Finley out of N.C. State. The fourth round pick could be a player that Taylor wants to develop into the eventual starter, but Dalton is safe for now. Whether or not Finley is the quarterback of the Bengals’ future, the fact that Taylor is looking for a new quarterback can’t make Dalton filled with happiness. Dalton has thrown for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns, yet he has no playoff wins on his resume. Dalton can either have a resurgence with Taylor or he can confirm the idea that he is a place holder for the new coaching staff.
3. Can the Bengals defense have a rebound season?
Putting it bluntly, the Bengals had a bad defense last season. The Bengals ranked near the bottom of the league points allowed and yards allowed. The Bengals spent their first two draft picks on the offense on top of hiring an offensive minded head coach. They did make some nice pickups on the defensive side of the ball. I think Germaine Pratt was an underrated linebacker prospect in this past draft.
I also think Renell Wren is a defensive tackle that was one of the major steals of the draft. They added B.W. Webb to their secondary and Preston Brown to their linebacker group in free agency. These are solid moves, but nothing they did seems like a game changer for this defense.