ATLANTA – When Zac Taylor, who is widely expected to be named the Bengals new coach once Super Bowl LIII is over, was being congratulated on his new job Monday, the Rams quarterbacks coach answered diplomatically.
“I can’t accept that,” Taylor said during Super Bowl Opening Night, “officially."
Taylor didn’t want to distract from the task at hand, but the NFL also doesn’t allow for hires to be announced if the coach is still employed by another team. Stranger things have happened, as evidenced by Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' decision to back out of the Colts job last year.
But Taylor’s move to Cincinnati is all but final, and there is speculation around the league that he could poach his brother, Press, currently the Eagles' quarterbacks coach. Zac Taylor was an offensive coordinator with the Dolphins and is expected to call plays in Cincinnati, but he could hire his brother as a de facto OC.
He may opt to bring in someone with more experience, but the brothers remain close.
They haven’t talked much about the Super Bowl, however, either last year’s in which the Eagles won, or this year’s between the Rams and the Patriots.
“We didn’t talk a lot last year when he was here," Taylor said, “but I think it’s something that you got to experience for yourself.”
Press Taylor was given credit for digging up the play that led to “Philly Special,” the trick play, fourth down touchdown the Eagles scored before the half last year. Zac Taylor joked about running the same play Sunday, but he agreed that the Eagles' offensive performance against New England was worth aping.
“Do what they did,” Taylor said. “That seemed to work.”
Rams running back Todd Gurley finished third in the league in rushing this season with 1,251 yards and an NFL-high 17 rushing touchdowns.
So, there were more than a few raised eyebrows two weeks ago when Gurley got just four carries and played only 46.4 percent of the Rams’ offensive snaps in their 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.
Gurley sat out the Rams’ final two regular-season games with inflammation in his knee, but rushed for 115 yards and played 57 percent of the snaps in his team’s win over Dallas in the second round of the playoffs.
Gurley has insisted the last two days that his knee is fine now and was fine against the Saints. He hasn’t been listed on the Rams’ injury report. So why then, coach Sean McVay, did Gurley play so little against the Saints?
“Last week’s game was the result of things like the play selection,’’ McVay said. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting him opportunities to get going.
“But I love the way he responded and fully expect him to be the Todd Gurley we all know. He’s going to be a big part of this game.’’
Tony Romo did such an impressive job of predicting what the Patriots were going to do on their game-winning touchdown drive against Andy Reid’s Chiefs in the AFC championship game that somebody asked the former Cowboys quarterback and CBS lead analyst to predict the score of Sunday’s game.
“I’m gonna go 28-24,’’ said Romo, who will be in the CBS booth for Super Bowl LIII. “And I think the team that has 24 will have the ball at the end and fail to score.’’
Bill Belichick gave a shoutout to former Temple coach Wayne Hardin Tuesday during his 20-minute news conference at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency.
Belichick’s father, Steve, was an assistant on Hardin’s Navy staff in the early ‘60s. Hardin, who died two years ago at the age of 91, was Temple’s head coach from 1971 through 1982.
“Coach Hardin was willing to do things that were, let’s say, a little bit off the beaten path,’’ Belichick said. “I saw that when he was at Navy and then again at Temple.
“Not just offensively, but in the kicking game. Sometimes he just kind of, you would shake your head [at something he did]. But then when you saw the results of it and you understood what he was thinking, you’d say, ‘That’s a pretty good idea.'
“When I got into coaching with the Giants, he was still at Temple. Certainly I was a lot older and lot more able to understand and learn from him than when I was a pre-teen [when Hardin was at Navy].’’
Belichick even referenced Temple’s 28-17 win over Cal in the 1979 Garden State Bowl, which was Temple’s first-ever bowl victory.
Sean McVay said his 88-year-old grandfather, former Giants head coach and 49ers general manager John McVay, will be at Super Bowl LIII
“I’ve spoken to him. He’s going to have a chance to be here. It means a lot to me and my family.