Bengals sign head coach Zac Taylor to extension through 2026

Less than a week after experiencing a crushing loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals have locked down their head coach for the next four years.

The Bengals announced on Wednesday morning that they've signed Zac Taylor to an extension through 2026.

No additional details about the extension have been made available.

Taylor, 38, has been the head coach of the Bengals since 2019 and has a 16-32-1 record. He replaced longtime head coach Marvin Lewis, who had been with Cincy since 2003.

Taylor's progress with the Bengals

It's been a journey for Taylor and the Bengals. When he took over, the Bengals had gone 6-10 in the previous season. That turned into a dismal and depressing 2-14 in 2019. Despite that, the team was trying to reverse its fortune and start an upswing.

That began with the 2020 draft, in which they chose quarterback and 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. Burrow had a lot to learn, and it wasn't all smooth sailing. Going into Week 11 of the 2020 season, they were 2-6-1, but Burrow was showing improvement — and that's when disaster struck.

During a Week 11 game against the Washington Football Team, Burrow tore the ACL and MCL in his knee, ending his season disappointingly early. He underwent surgery and embarked on a lengthy rehab plan, and backups Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley finished under center for the rest of the season while Burrow underwent surgery and embarked on a lengthy rehab. The Bengals finished the season 4-11-1.

Los Angeles, California February 11, 2022: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor speaks to the press during media day before the Super Bowl at UCLA Friday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The Bengals have signed their head coach Zac Taylor to a contract extension through the 2026 season. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

It seemed like a long shot that Burrow would be healthy and strong enough to start Week 1, but he proved everyone wrong. He was ready to go against the Minnesota Vikings, and led the team to a 3-1 start last season. It wasn't a storybook regular season, and it involved gritting out tough wins and learning from disappointing defeats. But with Burrow leading the offense and Taylor on the sideline, they finished 10-7 and came within a few points of completing their improbable 2021 season with a Super Bowl victory.

That loss obviously hasn't dimmed the ownership's love for Taylor. He took the team from worst to first in just three seasons, and they made a strong showing against the Rams. And most importantly, Taylor has total buy-in from his players. As long as Taylor can be honest about his flaws as a head coach and find ways to fix them — and the front office gives him the right players for the job — there's no reason the Bengals can't continue to succeed with Taylor at the helm.