The 0-7 Cincinnati Bengals head to London looking to break their duck under new Head Coach Zac Taylor against his former team the LA Rams.
Taylor took over in Cincinnati earlier this year after his two-year tenure as QB coach with the Rams, but things have not started well for him or his team in their winless start to the season.
Taylor and the Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay are great friends and Taylor admitted how much McVay has helped him in his career prior to Cincinnati.
“Sean’s been great, bringing me to LA two years ago, I will forever be grateful. He is a great man, a great friend.”
Taylor talked about how McVay has helped him since he took the Bengals job earlier this year.
“We have talked off and on since I got this job, we probably talked three or four weeks ago, but that’s phased out as the game has got closer.”
Having been on the Rams staff for two years, Taylor has an advantage when prepping to face his former team, but he played this down.
“You do know their personnel, because obviously I have been around there for two years, but they are a great team, they attack on all three faces and scheme really well. They’ve won a lot of games together,” Taylor added.
If the Bengals are to win they’ll have to do it without star receiver and seven-time Pro Bowler AJ Green who still remains side-lined with an ankle injury which has seen him miss every game so far in 2019.
Taylor said: “AJ won’t play this weekend, but he is making progress and I think the bye week will come at a great time for him. He feels a little bit better every day, there is a little bit more from him every single day and he is starting to feel comfortable running around on it.”
Green’s absence through seven weeks has been a major factor in the offense and teams struggles, but Taylor remains confident in his side.
“We talk a lot about trying to find a winning attitude. We’re a winning team and we are trying to find a way of finishing games strong, that is something we haven’t done so far, the senior guys have helped sell that to the others.”
One of those senior players is Quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has been the Bengals starting Quarterback.
Quarterback Andy Dalton has led the Bengals since he was drafted in the second round in 2011. During that time, they achieved five straight playoff appearances in his first five years but were always unable to get over the line. In fact, Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in 28 seasons dating back to January 1991. This is the longest streak in American sports.
Things do not get easier for Dalton and his offence as they go up against reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Dalton spoke of the challenges going up against a player of Donald’s calibre.
“He is arguably the best player in the NFL, so you just have to know where he is at all times. He is a guy that can disrupt any play at any moment.”
Donald is the best run stuffer in the game and that is where the Bengals biggest weakness lies. They rank dead last in the NFL running the ball, averaging a meagre 53.1 yards per game.
Despite the awful start to the season Dalton remained confident that they can still turn things around.
Dalton added: “It all starts with one. If you get that first win, you get that momentum, and like you say you kind of get that off our shoulders. This one would be big going into our bye.”
The Bengals have played in London once before, in the only tie ever seen in London, 27-27 against the Redskins. Dalton played that day and he talked about how cool it is seeing jerseys of all teams in the crowd.
“It is crazy, it is one of those things where, we are watching some film, two or three weeks ago, of a game over here, and I saw one of my jerseys and I was like wait a second look at that jersey, it’s really cool.”
On this week’s matchup Dalton remained buoyant about his sides chances.
“We want to play well, for us we want to put it all together, as we haven’t put all four quarters together, but that is the goal this week,” Dalton said.
You can see if the Bengals can turn things around and get Taylor his first win on Sunday at 5:00pm UK time.