CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-0)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (0-0)
SATURDAY, AUG. 14
AT RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM
NEXT WEEK: PRESEASON GAME 2
AUG. 20 AT WASHINGTON
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason TV Network with
broadcasters Mike Watts (play-by-play), Anthony Munoz (analyst) and Marisa
Contipelli (sideline reporter). The network is led by flagship WKRC-TV (CBS
Channel 12) in Cincinnati. Also on the network are WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in
Dayton, WSYX-TV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima,
WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati
flagship stations WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7).
WLW-AM (700) will join the flagship stations in broadcasting the Bengals game
once its broadcast of the Cincinnati Reds game concludes (the Reds game
begins at 4:05 p.m. Eastern). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and
Dave Lapham (analyst).
Setting the scene: The Bengals make their 2021 preseason debut
Saturday night, when they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the defending Super
Bowl champion Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
The most significant offseason storyline in Cincinnati surrounded the health
of QB Joe Burrow, who suffered a season-ending left knee injury on Nov. 22 last
season. After surgery and a long rehab process, Burrow was medically cleared
in time to take the first snap of training camp on July 28. Burrow has been
practicing fully throughout training camp, save for one off day so far, but Bengals
head coach Zac Taylor said recently that the 2020 No. 1 overall pick will not play
“Joe is not going to play in Preseason Game 1, for sure,” Taylor said. “We do
have a general idea of how we see it unfolding for all three preseason games,
but for right now, the firm decision has been made for Preseason Game 1.”
Burrow has told the local media that he would like to play at some point in
preseason, but Bengals leadership continues to be very cautious with their
team’s most high-profile player.
“We’ll look at every scenario and see what we would gain out of (playing him
in preseason),” Taylor said. “If we’re going to put him out there, what exactly is
that going to look like where we can control it or not control it? There’s a lot of
thought that goes into that process, and we want to make certain that he’s ready
to play Week 1 against Minnesota.”
Saturday will, however, mark the Bengals debut for a number of new
additions, including rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati’s first-round pick in
April’s draft. Chase arrived in the Queen City to great fanfare given his rapport
with Burrow in college at Louisiana State, where the duo helped power the
Tigers to a national championship in 2019.
“I’ve been really impressed with how quickly Ja’Marr has picked up the
offense and how easily it makes sense to him,” Taylor said. “He’s got a really
high football IQ. With some rookies, you’re concerned with overloading them —
just give them a little package and ease them into it. Ja’Marr hasn’t been that
way at all.”
In addition to Chase, a majority of Cincinnati’s 2021 draft class figures to see
extensive action on Saturday, including G Jackson Carman (second round), DE
Joseph Ossai (third) and K Evan McPherson (fifth). Cincinnati has also been
active recently in free agency, and a number of 2021 additions could make their
Bengals debut on Saturday, including CB Chidobe Awuzie, DE Trey
Hendrickson, CB Mike Hilton, DT Larry Ogunjobi, OT Riley Reiff and CB Trae
Waynes (a 2020 UFA who missed all of last season with a pectoral injury).
And as is always the case in preseason, there are a variety of battles to
watch for roster spots, playing time and even starting positions. The most intense
of those competitions figure to take place at guard, linebacker, defensive line,
punt returner and backup running back.
Saturday will also mark the debut of the Bengals’ new uniforms, which were
released over the offseason. It was Cincinnati’s first uniform redesign since 2004
(more information in “Uniform watch” on page 3.) The Bengals are slated to wear
black jerseys and white pants (orange stripes) on Saturday.
The series: Tampa Bay leads 7-5, thanks to a six-game series win
streak in meetings spanning from 1995 through 2010. The Buccaneers are 5-3 in
games played in Cincinnati, including 3-1 at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals, however, have won the last two regular-season meetings —
14-13 in 2014 at Tampa Bay, and 37-34 in 2018 at Cincinnati. Prior to that ’14
victory, the Bengals had not beaten the Bucs since 1989, when they prevailed
56-23 at Riverfront Stadium.
Tampa Bay leads the preseason series 9-5, however the Bengals won the
last meeting 23-12 at Paul Brown in 2017.
BENGALS-BUCCANEERS 2020 NFL RANKINGS
SCORING (AVERAGE POINTS):
Points scored………………………………………… 29th (19.4) 3rd (30.8)
Points allowed ……………………………………… 22nd (26.5) 8th (22.2)
NET OFFENSE (AVERAGE YARDS):
Total ………………………………………………….. 29th (319.8) 7th (384.1)
Rushing ……………………………………………… 24th (104.3) T-28th (94.9)
Passing ………………………………………………. 27th (215.5) 2nd (289.1)
NET DEFENSE (AVERAGE YARDS):
Total ………………………………………………….. 26th (389.2) 6th (327.1)
Rushing ……………………………………………… 29th (148.0) 1st (80.6)
Passing ………………………………………………. 19th (241.2) 21st (246.6)
Differential ………………………………………..25th (minus-7) 6th (plus-8)
Bengals-Buccaneers connections: Buccaneers RB Giovani
Bernard originally was a second-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2013, and
was with the team through the ’20 season … Buccaneers S Mike Edwards is
from Cincinnati (Winton Woods High School) and played at the University of
Kentucky … Bengals WR Auden Tate attended Paul R. Wharton High School in
Tampa, and played at Florida State University … Bengals TE Mitchell Wilcox is
from Tarpon Springs, Fla. (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) and played at the University of
South Florida … Buccaneers OLB Elijah Ponder played at the University of
Cincinnati … Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson is from Apopka, Fla. (Apopka High
School) … Bengals OT Fred Johnson and K Evan McPherson both played at the
University of Florida … Bengals HB Jacques Patrick is from Orlando, Fla.
(Timber Creek High School), played at Florida State University, and also played
for the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020 … Bengals TE Pro Wells is from St.
Petersburg, Fla. (Dixie Hollins High School) … Bengals S Ricardo Allen is from
Daytona Beach, Fla. (Mainland High School) … Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller
played at Bowling Green State University … Buccaneers S Javon Hagan played
at Ohio University … Bengals WR Reece Horn played for the XFL’s Tampa Bay
Vipers in 2020 … Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was a college free agent
signee (QB) of the Buccaneers in 2007 (released prior to training camp) …
Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner coached with the Buccaneers
from 2016-18 … Bengals wide receivers coach Troy Walters coached at the
University of Central Florida from 2016-17 … Buccaneers assistant strength and
conditioning coach Corey Cichey coached at the University of Cincinnati from
2012-13 … Buccaneers tight ends coach Rick Christophel is from Reading, Ohio,
and coached at the University of Cincinnati in 1983 … Buccaneers offensive line
coach Joe Gilbert coached at the University of Toledo from 2001-03 and ’07 …
Buccaneers assistant to the head coach Mike Chiurco coached at Ohio State
THE HEAD COACHES
Zac Taylor was named the 10th head coach in Cincinnati Bengals
history on Feb. 4, 2019.
In 2019, his first season as head coach, Taylor headed off a wave of early
season injuries to lead Cincinnati to second-half turnarounds on both offense
and defense. Offensively, the Bengals’ per-game rushing average jumped 70.6
yards from the first half of the season (59.5) to the second (130.1), while their
per-attempt average jumped 1.26 yards (3.17 to 4.43) and they allowed 10 fewer
sacks (29 to 19). The team’s top four WRs — Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, Auden
Tate and John Ross III — all posted career-highs in both receptions and
receiving yards. Defensively, Cincinnati notched 11 more sacks in the second
half of of the season compared to the first, and allowed 84.1 fewer yards per
game. The team finished 2-14 that season.
In 2020, Taylor helped transition QB Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the
draft, to the pro level despite the absence of an in-person offseason program due
to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor helped Burrow to one of the most productive
starts to a career by a QB in NFL history, before a knee injury ended the rookie’s
season after 10 games. Still, Burrow’s 264 completions were the most ever by an
NFL QB through their first 10 career games, while his 404 pass attempts were
second and his 2688 passing yards were fifth. Defensively, Taylor oversaw the
onboarding of seven new starters, and helped Cincinnati hold opposing passers
to just a 62.8 completion percentage (sixth-lowest in the NFL).
Taylor came to Cincinnati after two seasons (2017-18) with the L.A. Rams,
where he served as assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks
coach in ’18. In 2018, he helped guide Rams QB Jared Goff to career highs in
every major passing category. Goff ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards
and eighth in passer rating. The Rams’ QB play was a key component to their
offense, which finished the regular season ranked second in the NFL in total net
yards (421.1 per game), fifth in net passing yards (281.7), second in scoring
(32.9), first in first downs (401) and fifth in third-down percentage (45.0). Los
Angeles won the NFC West with a 13-3 regular-season record and advanced to
Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots.
In 2017, Taylor helped oversee an emerging Rams passing offense that
ranked 10th in the NFL in passing yards per game (239.4). Taylor directed a
Rams’ young receiving corps headed by rookie Cooper Kupp, who finished the
season with 62 catches, a team-high 869 receiving yards and five TDs.
Prior to his time with the Rams, Taylor had a one-year stint in the college
ranks, serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University
of Cincinnati in 2016. Taylor served under head coach Tommy Tuberville at UC.
Taylor broke into NFL coaching in 2012 with the Miami Dolphins as assistant
quarterbacks coach. He was elevated to quarterbacks coach from 2013-15, and
spent the final five games of ’15 as the Dolphins’ interim offensive coordinator
and primary play-caller, after the team made coaching staff changes.
During his time in Miami, Taylor was instrumental in the development of QB
Ryan Tannehill, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2012.
Taylor’s coaching career began at Texas A&M University, where he served
as offensive graduate assistant and tight ends coach under head coach Mike
Sherman from 2008-11. The Aggies shared the Big 12 South Championship in
2010 and played in three bowl games during Taylor’s time in College Station.
As a player, Taylor began his college career at Wake Forest (2002-03),
before transferring to Butler County Community College in Kansas (’04) and then
playing his final two seasons (’05-06) at the University of Nebraska. Taylor had a
decorated career with the Cornhuskers, setting numerous school records and
passing for a combined 5850 yards and 45 touchdowns. In his senior season of
2006, Taylor was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after passing for
3197 total yards and leading the Cornhuskers to a 9-3 record, an appearance in
the Big 12 Championship Game and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. He was inducted
into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
Taylor joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a college free agent in 2007,
but he was waived prior to the start of training camp and never saw NFL action.
Later that year, he joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football
League, where he spent one season (did not play).
His father, Sherwood, was a defensive back and captain at the University of
Oklahoma, playing under Sooners head coach Barry Switzer from 1976-79.
Sherwood Taylor later served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma and Kansas
State University. Taylor’s brother, Press, played quarterback at Marshall
University and is currently senior offensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts.
Taylor was born in Norman, Okla., on May 10, 1983. After attending Norman
High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the
University of Nebraska in 2006. He and his wife, Sarah, have four children —
Brooks, Luke, Emma Claire and Milly. Sarah Taylor is the daughter of former
Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman.
Bruce Arians was named the 12th head coach in Buccaneers team
history on Jan. 8, 2019.
Arians is a two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, earning the
award in 2012 (Indianapolis Colts) and in ’14 (Arizona Cardinals). He is the only
coach in NFL history to earn the award multiple times in a three-year span with
different teams, and is one of only 12 coaches in NFL history to win the award
In his second season with the Buccaneers in 2020, Arians led Tampa Bay to
11 wins, tying its second-most in team history. The Buccaneers clinched their
first playoff berth since 2007 and won the franchise’s second Super Bowl title,
defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.
Over his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers rank first in
passing yards per game (309.5), second in scoring (29.7), third in total yards per
game (391.0), first in rushing yards allowed per game (77.2), first in rushing
yards allowed per carry (3.43), fourth in sacks (95.0), eighth in point differential
(plus-146) and 10th in total net yards allowed per game (335.5).
Arians owns a 5-2 mark in the postseason as a head coach, earning a .714
postseason winning percentage, which is tied for the fourth-best winning
percentage of any coach since the 1970 merger, and the second-best among
Prior to arriving in Tampa, Arians spent five seasons as the head coach of
the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) in addition to a 12-game stint as interim head
coach for the Indianapolis Colts (2012), compiling a regular-season record of
58-33-1. During that 92-game stretch as a head coach, Arian’s 58 wins ranked
fourth in the NFL, trailing only Bill Belichick (73), Pete Carroll (63) and Mike
Arians came to Arizona after spending the 2012 season with Indianapolis
Hired as the team’s offensive coordinator, he also served as the team’s interim
coach for 12 games while head coach Chuck Pagano was treated for leukemia.
Prior to his time with the Colts, Arians spent eight seasons with the Steelers,
five as offensive coordinator (2007-11) and three as the wide receivers coach
(’04-06). While with Pittsburgh, Arians was part of the coaching staff that won
Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Before joining the Steelers, Arians spent three
seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2001-03).
Arians’ first NFL job was with the Kansas City Chiefs, working as the team’s
running backs coach for four seasons (1989-92). Arians also spent the 1996
season as the tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints.
Arians’ coaching career began as a graduate assistant at his alma mater,
Virginia Tech, in 1975, before being elevated to running backs coach in ’77. He
spent 1978-80 with Mississippi State as the school’s running backs/wide
receivers coach before coaching the running backs at Alabama for two seasons
(’81-82) under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Arians would later return to
Mississippi State (1993-95) and Alabama (’97) to serve as the offensive
coordinator for the respective schools. He became one of the youngest head
coaches in Division I history when Temple hired him in 1983 at the age of 30. He
spent six seasons coaching the Owls (1983-88).
Born in Paterson, N.J., Arians grew up in York, Pa., and played QB at
Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Christine, have two children — son Jake, and
daughter Kristi Anne — as well as a granddaughter and two grandsons.
Taylor vs. Buccaneers: No previous meetings in preseason or
Taylor vs. Arians: No previous meetings in preseason or regular
Arians vs. Bengals: Arians leads, 1-0 (while with Arizona).
COURTESY BENGALS MEDIA RELATIONS