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Zac Taylor is doing pretty well at this coaching thing. The Cincinnati Bengals head coach is in his fourth season as the leader of the team and is one win away from making his second straight Super Bowl berth. That victory could come Sunday when the Bengals travel to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, a team they’ve beaten in their last three meetings. While Taylor’s playing career peaked as a quarterback at Nebraska, did he ever play in the NFL?

Zac Taylor’s coaching success wasn’t instant

Head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts after a play during the third quarter in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 18, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. | Julio Aguilar/Getty Images.

While Taylor has gone 22-11 in his last two seasons as head coach of the Bengals, he still doesn’t have a winning record in his four years in the NFL. His first season with the Bengals in 2019 was a true welcome-to-the-NFL moment.

Taylor lost his first 11 games as the Bengals coach as Cincinnati got off to the worst start in franchise history. The bad news for Taylor and the Bengals was they finished the season 2-14. The good news was they were awarded the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With that pick, the Bengals selected LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who has already become a franchise QB. Burrow’s rookie season was similar to Taylor’s as he struggled his way to a 2-7-1 record before suffering a season-ending ACL tear during a Week 11 meeting against the Washington Football Team.

Burrow returned in 2021. He played 16 games, going 10-6 and leading the NFL in completion percentage (70.4). He threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns and guided the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1988 season. Burrow was named the AP Comeback Player of the Year.

Taylor and the Bengals are one win away from returning to the Super Bowl. A win over the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday will get them back in.

Did Taylor ever play in the NFL?

After an impressive career as a quarterback at Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, Taylor attended Wake Forest University, redshirting his first year. After serving as the backup the following year and seeing little action, Taylor enrolled at Butler Community College in Kansas before hooking on at Nebraska.

In his first year with the Cornhuskers, Taylor threw for 2,653 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was intercepted 12 times. In his final year with Nebraska, Taylor racked up 3,197 passing yards and had 26 touchdowns against eight picks.

No team selected Taylor in the 2007 NFL Draft, although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him as a free agent. His NFL career, however, was over before it started.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Bucs cut Taylor before camp even began.

“I didn’t even know you could be cut before camp,” Taylor said.

He went to the Canadian Football League and was on the practice squad for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He lasted one year before returning to focus on his coaching career.


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