Zac Taylor and Football: It’s a Family Affair

By Betsy Ross

At Tuesday’s news conference to introduce the Bengals new head football coach, Zac Taylor was all business—until the conversation turned to his family. Then, his stoic demeanor turned into all smiles as he introduced his wife, kids and parents to the media.

To say that Taylor was born for football is a bit of an understatement. He credits his dad, Sherwood Taylor, for teaching him the game and his mom, Julie, for supporting his football aspirations. “She’s always had a lot of confidence in me, sometimes too much,” Taylor said of his mother. “I remember before my senior year in college (at Nebraska), she told me, ‘Zac, I know you’re going to win the Heisman Trophy.’ I didn’t even come close. I’m sorry to disappoint you, mom (laughs). Hopefully today I can make up for that by being a head coach in the NFL.” 

His brother, Press, also is part of the family business, as quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. And the football family ties extend to his wife Sarah, whose father is Mike Sherman. Name sound familiar? That’s because he was head coach of the Minnesota Vikings until 2005. Taylor acknowledged her patience as the wife of a peripatetic football coach. “I’d also like to thank my wife, Sarah, and my kids, Brooks and Luke,” he said at the news conference. (they also have two girls, Emma Claire and Milly) “She’s a rock star. This is about her 1000th move in the last five years, and she handles it better than anybody.”

The number of moves might be exaggerated, but the meteoric rise Taylor has enjoyed through the football hierarchy is not. From UC offensive coordinator in 2016 to the Rams, first as assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 then quarterbacks coach for the Rams’ Jared Goff last year, Taylor’s specialty has been working with signal callers (he also worked with Ryan Tannehill in Miami before his UC stint). He says so far, he likes what he sees in the Bengals QB. 

“I have a high opinion of Andy Dalton going back to 2010,” Taylor said. “I think I watched every snap he played at TCU his senior year when I was at Texas A&M. It was an offense I really admired, and he executed it flawlessly, to be quite honest with you.

“I know all about his background. I probably never pictured I was going to coach him, but I’m very fortunate he’s the quarterback here and I’m excited to work with him. I think he’s a great fit for what we’re going to do offensively.” 

Taylor was close to the vest about possible personnel changes, both for coaches and players. “I’m excited with the personnel we have,” he said. “I try not to get too far ahead of myself, because we do have some time to get the scheme organized the way we want to do it. There are some exciting pieces ... some great players who — trust me — I can picture how to use them different ways. I’m excited to get our hands on those guys and get to work with them.”

And with free agency a month away he admitted there’s lots to do as the last NFL coach to the formally hired this season. But first, there’s one more move for his family, from LA back to Cincinnati. “I think sometimes you just have to breathe,” he said. “There’s going to be plenty of time. The players show up in two months, so we have time (there), and the combine is in a couple weeks. The important thing is that there are good people in place here.”

Jackie Reau