Bengals hire Rams QB coach


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FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is seen before the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The Bengals have hired Taylor as their coach, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, heading in different direction after failing to get a playoff win during Marvin Lewis' 16 seasons. They targeted the Rams quarterbacks coach as Lewis' replacement, but weren't able to close a deal until LA's season ended with a 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is seen before the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The Bengals have hired Taylor as their coach, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, heading in different direction after failing to get a playoff win during Marvin Lewis' 16 seasons. They targeted the Rams quarterbacks coach as Lewis' replacement, but weren't able to close a deal until LA's season ended with a 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)


With wait over, Bengals hire Zac Taylor as coach

By JOE KAY

AP Sports Writer

Monday, February 4

CINCINNATI (AP) — After 16 years without a playoff win under Marvin Lewis, 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,’” 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.”

AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Pats’ Belichick joins Halas, Lambeau with 6 championships

By CHARLES ODUM

AP Sports Writer

Tuesday, February 5

ATLANTA (AP) — Bill Belichick is now standing shoulder to shoulder with the NFL’s all-time greatest coaching icons.

When considering his place in history, Belichick’s accomplishments transcend the Super Bowl era after his New England Patriots’ 13-3 Super Bowl 53 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.

Belichick has joined George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches to win six NFL titles.

Vince Lombardi won five titles, including two Super Bowls. Lombardi is the namesake of the Super Bowl trophy which was displayed Monday when Belichick and Julian Edelman, the MVP of Sunday’s game , discussed the Patriots’ latest championship.

Belichick said it was “incredibly flattering” to hear his name mentioned with the coaching legends. He said Halas was friends with his father Steve Belichick, who played for the Detroit Lions and was a longtime assistant coach at Navy.

“I grew up watching coach Halas,” Belichick said.

Lombardi, “Papa Bear” Halas and Lambeau are the names which have been mentioned with Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, Paul Brown, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs and others as the greatest NFL coaches.

That was before Belichick began collecting championships. He now has two more Super Bowl titles than Noll’s previous record of four and must be included in any grouping of all-time greatest coaches.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday described Belichick’s record of success as “incredible” and “unprecedented.”

“We’re grateful to see him continue to have great football teams and bring them together in a way I don’t think any other coach has ever done in the history of the game,” Goodell said.

Belichick still has quarterback Tom Brady, so the Patriots can’t be overlooked in the early discussion of teams which could reach Super Bowl 54 in Miami.

“I competed against some of those coaches and some I didn’t compete against but I was aware of,” Belichick said. “Coach Lombardi, as a kid growing up and watching the first Super Bowl. It’s incredibly flattering.”

Belichick said the championship is “a team accomplishment” and said “our entire team and organization put forth a superior and supreme effort to achieve that. That’s really what it’s all about, about how all of us came together and pulled our own weight so we could achieve our team goals. … It’s what we were able to accomplish as a team that makes me the most proud.”

Brady, 41, said Sunday he plans to keep playing . Similarly, Belichick, 66, has made no mention of retiring, so there’s no reason to think he has finished setting new standards for his profession.

Edelman said early in his career he saw Belichick on a treadmill, watching game film, late at night at the team’s practice facility.

The wide receiver said he told Belichick “You sure like football.” Edelman said the coach responded “‘Beats being a plumber. See you tomorrow.’”

Belichick provided evidence of his attention to detail on Monday when he questioned Edelman’s version of that exchange. The coach’s clarification came immediately after taking the microphone.

“First of all, I think Julian might have misquoted me,” Belichick said in his typical dry tone. “I have a ton of respect for plumbers. Those people do a great job. I think I said it beats working. But anyway.”

With that, it was on to football. It’s not too early to start planning a way to break that tie with Halas and Lambeau.

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‘Whirlwind’: Flores goes from Super Bowl champs to Dolphins

By STEVEN WINE

AP Sports Writer

Tuesday, February 5

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — When Brian Flores was asked how he celebrated winning the Super Bowl, he paused for several seconds and laughed.

“I kissed my wife on the field,” Flores said.

Then it was on to the next challenge, and a big one — fixing the Miami Dolphins. Flores, the New England Patriots’ linebackers coach and defensive play-caller, was hired Monday as Miami’s head coach.

He accepted the job hours after helping the Patriots shut down the high-scoring Los Angeles Rams for a 13-3 victory in the title game Sunday night in Atlanta.

“It has been a whirlwind 24 hours,” Flores said with a smile at a news conference that drew two dozen cameras.

“Looking at this crowd here, you’d think we won the Super Bowl,” Miami owner Stephen Ross said. “I’ve never seen this many people in this room. … To me, you start an organization by signing a great leader. I believe we’ve found that leader.”

Flores was the first person the Dolphins interviewed after they fired coach Adam Gase on Dec. 31. They decided on Jan. 11 to offer the job to Flores but had to wait until New England’s season ended to complete an agreement.

“I wasn’t in a rush to become a head coach,” said Flores, 37. “I had a good job in New England.”

Flores said the job with the Patriots’ longtime AFC East foil was appealing because he shared a vision with general manager Chris Grier on how to build a winner.

While preparing for the Super Bowl, Flores also began to hire a Miami staff. The group is expected to include former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as assistant head coach, Patriots receivers coach Chad O’Shea as offensive coordinator and Packers assistant Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator.

The son of Honduran immigrants, Flores grew up in Brooklyn and has spent his entire coaching career with the Patriots. He joined them in 2004 and became their de facto defensive coordinator a year ago after Matt Patricia left to join the Lions as their head coach.

Flores is the ninth former assistant to Bill Belichick to become a head coach.

“I think he’ll be awesome,” Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty said. “But he’s in the division, so I told him he can’t win too many games.”

Flores becomes the NFL’s fourth minority head coach for 2019, which is half the total of last season. Diversity advocates have questioned the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coach or general manager vacancy.

A former Boston College linebacker, Flores also coached offense and special teams with New England. He has a long relationship with Grier, who took charge of football operations in the recent organizational shake-up.

Both started as scouts for the Patriots, the Dolphins’ longtime nemeses in the AFC East. Flores will report to Grier under the team’s new, more streamlined leadership structure.

Among those attending the news conference were Flores’ wife, Jennifer, their three children and his high school coach. Also on hand was the last quarterback to lead Miami to a Super Bowl, Dan Marino, in 1984, and the last quarterback to help the Dolphins win one, Bob Griese, in 1973.

Flores is leaving a team that won its sixth Super Bowl since 2002 to join a franchise that has not won a playoff game since 2000 and plans to rebuild after another dismal season.

The Dolphins went 7-9 in 2018 to miss the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. They allowed 6,257 yards, the most in franchise history, and the offense was also among the league’s worst, finishing ranked 31st.

One win came at home against New England, when the Dolphins scored a miraculous touchdown with a pass and double lateral on the final play. The Patriots had expected a Hail Mary pass, and second-guessers complained that their secondary included lumbering 6-foot-6 Rob Gronkowski.

“My last memory here wasn’t a great one,” Flores said with a chuckle.

That improbable finish couldn’t save Gase. Ross fired him, ordered a roster overhaul and acknowledged it may take several seasons to build a winner. The revamp is likely to include the departure of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been with Miami since 2012 but has never taken a postseason snap.

Flores becomes Miami’s 10th head coach since 2004, including three interim coaches. Grier noted that two of Flores’ predecessors, Gase and Tony Sparano, reached the playoffs in their first season before the team backslid, so Miami will try a more patient approach.

“We want to build this where it’s long term and you can win for many years, instead of trying to go year to year,” Grier said.

Flores is braced for the frustrations that come with rebuilding.

“That’s part of leadership — dealing with adversity,” he said. “There’s going to be some pain. There’s pain for every team.”

As for his curtailed Super Bowl celebration, he wasn’t complaining.

“No, this is not getting cheated at all,” Flores said. “That was a great experience, but I guess I’ve always been this way — I look forward.”

AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.

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What a (familiar) feeling: Boston fetes Super Bowl winners

By PHILIP MARCELO

Associated Press

Tuesday, February 5

BOSTON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of jubilant fans jammed downtown Boston on Tuesday for a parade celebrating the New England Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl title, clamoring for more with cheers of “We want seven!” and “Next year, right here!”

A party atmosphere enveloped the city as fans clad in team garb packed sidewalks in the mild weather and stood on tiptoe for a glimpse of quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and the rest of the team. Red, white and blue confetti rained down.

It’s a familiar feeling in Boston. The parade came just four months after the city feted the Red Sox for their fourth World Series championship in 15 years.

“Getting to see Tom Brady again is always a special day, but the Patriots are amazing. Six-time champs,” fan Lauren Mills said, adding that she still hasn’t had her fill. Her message to Brady: “Go for No. 7. He still has how many fingers left? You know, four more rings to go.”

Fresh from Sunday’s 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl in Atlanta, team members and their families took a 2-mile (3-kilometer) swing through the city aboard Boston’s iconic World War II-era amphibious “duck boats.”

Brady held his pigtailed daughter, Vivian, and they waved and grinned at the crowd as players and team owner Robert Kraft took turns holding aloft the Lombardi Trophy. Belichick and his partner, Linda Holliday, beamed, and the storied coach doffed his cap.

Star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has talked about retiring after this latest NFL title, whooped it up with his brothers and father. He and several other players removed their shirts and spent much of the parade cavorting bare-chested.

They waved large signs that read, “We Got Everything” — a twist on the Patriots’ motivational hashtag, “Everything We Got,” that had become a theme this season.

At least one brave Rams fan, wearing one of that team’s blue and yellow jerseys, hung out along the parade route.

Officials expected 1 million attendees, and early trains and subways were jammed, overwhelming the Boston area’s transit system with what officials said was record ridership. The weather was unseasonably warm, with temperatures above 60 degrees (15 degrees Celsius) and dazzling sunshine.

Security was tight, and police took away several fans who appeared intoxicated, including one man on a stretcher.

Mayor Marty Walsh warned fans not to throw anything. Errant beer cans slightly damaged the Red Sox World Series trophy last year.

Unlike in past years, no post-parade rally with speeches was held. Officials didn’t elaborate on why.

Stephen Chhom, of Lynn, Massachusetts, was along the parade route overlooking the Statehouse with his friend Ricky Sok and Sok’s son, Raiyu.

“What made this year special were all the other fans doubting us,” Chhom said, wearing a Julian Edelman jersey. “The record speaks for itself. Tom Brady and the rest of the team prove themselves every single time.”

Associated Press video journalist Rodrique Ngowi contributed to this report. Follow Philip Marcelo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/philmarcelo .

Column: No love for the defense in Super Bowl 53

By ARNIE STAPLETON

AP Pro Football Writer

Tuesday, February 5

In a Super Bowl snoozer featuring a single touchdown by victorious New England and the high-scoring, newfangled, all-the-rage Los Angeles Rams managing a measly three points, the MVP trophy went to Patriots receiver Julian Edelman.

Where’s the love for the defense?

Sure, Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards, including two grabs on the drive that ended with rookie running back Sony Michel plowing into the end zone with the game’s lone touchdown.

Yet, if there ever was a case for another defensive MVP like Von Miller in Super Bowl 50, this was it.

Of 54 MVPs (Cowboys DT Randy White and DE Harvey Martin shared the honors in 1978), 42 have been offensive players, 11 were defenders and one was a special teamer (Desmond Howard in 1997).

There were plenty of worthy candidates from the Patriots defense that hit Goff 16 times, collected four sacks, broke up eight passes and picked off another.

Two defenders really stood out:

—Jason McCourty raced across the field to break up a would-be touchdown toss to Brandin Cooks, who was wide open — but … had … to … wait … forever … for Jared Goff’s rainbow pass that was knocked away just as it arrived.

—Stephon Gilmore intercepted Goff’s pass in front of his end zone with 4:17 remaining on a pass intended for Cooks to seal the sixth title for Tom Brady, who outplayed Goff, and Bill Belichick, who outsmarted Sean McVay.

Calais Campbell, for one, insists Gilmore was the real MVP of SB53 after forcing a fumble, intercepting a pass, breaking up three other throws and collecting five tackles.

“The offense only scores 13 points and they give MVP to Edelman but the D only gives up 3 points and Gilmore” does all of that, Campbell complained on social media. “Smh no respect for the masterpiece on defense.”

The Rams may very well represent the future with their 33-year-old coach and 24-year-old quarterback, but the 66-year-old coach and his 41-year-old QB still reign supreme in 2019 — thanks again to a defense that allowed the duo to survive another masterful game plan by Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Brady’s worst Super Bowl — three scores in 11 drives that didn’t end in kneel-downs — also was his easiest — a 10-point margin of victory was his highest ever.

McVay and Goff both accepted the blame for a miserable showing in which Rams never adjusted to New England’s zone defense and aggressive D-line and managed to score just once in a dozen drives, the first eight of which ended in punts.

When it was over, the high-flying Rams, who led the NFC in scoring with a 33-point average, had nine punts, an interception, a field goal and a missed field goal to show for all that firepower that had so many NFL teams trying to find the next Sean McVay.

After the red-white-and-blue confetti was cleaned up with leaf blowers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor became the third assistant hired off McVay’s staff. He was hired as head coach the Cincinnati Bengals. At 35, Taylor becomes the second-youngest head coach in the NFL behind his former boss.

The Dolphins hired Brian Flores, the Patriots linebackers coach and de facto defensive play-caller who has cut his teeth in Foxborough since 2004.

With those two hires, the coaching carousel has eight new head coaches, six of them with offensive roots, as owners seek the next McVay or Kyle Shanahan to keep up with all this innovative run-pass optioning, jet-sweeping, scoreboard-busting offenses.

The kind that didn’t show up in this Super Bowl.

Vic Fangio, who spearheaded Chicago’s dominant defense, was the only other defensive assistant hired as a head coach this cycle, replacing Vance Joseph in Denver.

The other jobs all went to offensive minds promising innovation in this age of change.

The Packers hired Matt LeFleur, who was McVay’s offensive coordinator in 2017. The Cardinals dipped into the college ranks to hire Kliff Kingsbury, who tutored MVP Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech.

The Cleveland Browns promoted offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who worked wonders with Baker Mayfield after his midseason promotion from running backs coach. The Jets hired Adam Gase, Peyton Manning’s former OC who wore out his welcome in Miami, and the Buccaneers brought Bruce Arians and his deep offensive roots out of retirement.

Miami fans should be ecstatic about the arrival of Flores, 37, after watching him help their AFC East rival win yet another Super Bowl title.

Saints fans didn’t pay much mind to Super Bowl 53.

Thousands of New Orleans football fans partied in the French Quarter while the Rams and Patriots were trudging into the fourth quarter tied at 3.

A “Boycott Bowl” festival and a jazz funeral procession putting the football season to rest encapsulated how New Orleans residents felt about the Super Bowl, and even the city’s police department got in on the disenchantment.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports the New Orleans Police Department made a spoof video showing their investigation into the infamous “no-call” in the NFC championship that the Saints lost to the Rams.

The newspaper’s nearly blank front page also summarized what those in the Big Easy thought of the Patriots’ win over the Rams on Sunday: “Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?”

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is seen before the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The Bengals have hired Taylor as their coach, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, heading in different direction after failing to get a playoff win during Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons. They targeted the Rams quarterbacks coach as Lewis’ replacement, but weren’t able to close a deal until LA’s season ended with a 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122264832-fb1bc0520f1c43b38e84ae91fcc338ef.jpgFILE – In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is seen before the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The Bengals have hired Taylor as their coach, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, heading in different direction after failing to get a playoff win during Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons. They targeted the Rams quarterbacks coach as Lewis’ replacement, but weren’t able to close a deal until LA’s season ended with a 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
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