CINCINNATI — The winning feeling can be fleeting these days for the Bengals, but it's always welcomed.
“This is a team that believes that we can put together a winning streak," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. "A one-game, two-game, three-game, four-game, five-game -- we believe in it. We just haven't done it. We haven't proven it to the outside world.”
Taylor is 4-19-1 as Bengals head coach, and it has been hard to turn around the losing culture that has plagued the franchise for the last several years.
“This is a team with a play-caller in Zac Taylor and defensive coordinator in Lou Anarumo who have not held these positions full time in their NFL career," ESPN Bengals reporter Ben Baby said. "There are going to be some growing pains that come along with that.”
Baby is in his second season covering the Bengals for ESPN.
As the team approaches the 30th anniversary in January since the last playoff win, he said the team’s inconsistencies keep him busy.
“I think the challenge from a media standpoint is to figure out what is unique about this team that you're covering because even though the circumstances may look very similar, the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals are much different than the 2019 Bengals,” Baby said.
The Bengals are 1-12-1 in games decided by eight points or fewer under Taylor.
“We won some of those close games in those early years,” said former Bengals tight ends coach, Jonathan Hayes.
Hayes spent 15 seasons on Marvin Lewis’ coaching staff and was a part of the turnaround that saw the Bengals go from 2-14 to a playoff team in three seasons. The Bengals made the playoffs seven times while Hayes was an assistant coach.
“The main thing in changing the culture is just making sure you have the right people in your locker room that will also spread the message,” Hayes said.
Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow seems up and ready for that task.
“We got a great guy in Zac who is going to keep us together," Burrow said. "He's the leader of our team, the leader of our organization.”
Coming off the most complete win in the Taylor era, defeating the Titans 31-20 in Week 8, now the challenge is building on it.
“We're going to get there," Taylor said. "It takes time. I know people have been frustrated with the lack of wins we've had so far, but it's being built the right way, and the communication is great. I'm just really excited for this week, excited for the future, excited for everything.”