Kudos Coach Taylor

Some of you might question Head Coach Zac Taylor’s decision to go for it on fourth down, around the fifty-yard line, in the first quarter of the Super Bowl.  Cincinnati didn’t make it and turned the ball over on downs.  Subsequently, Los Angeles went down the field and scored the first touchdown of the game. 


That touchdown would come back to haunt the Bengals.  For it would set up the opportunity for the Rams to mount a last second drive in the fourth quarter, to win the Super Bowl.  Maybe, just maybe, if the Bengals had punted on that fourth down, as opposed to going for it, they would be Super Bowl champions right now?


As fun as it is to arm-chair quarterback a head coach’s decision in the Super Bowl.  I want to focus on something else, related to that decision.  The decision itself.  Which represents a road that was chosen and then traveled.  It’s the choice to travel down a specific road at a specific time, in a specific situation, that I find very interesting.  For, let’s face it, a few more inches and Coach Taylor would be seen right now as a football genius.


Yes, one play does not a Super Bowl champion make.  For there were several other opportunities for both the Bengals and the Rams to put that game away.  It was the confluence of events, not one single event, that made for the outcome.  Yet, for the matter of this discussion, I want to look at Coach Taylor’s decision to go for it on fourth down in the first quarter.


In that moment he faced a decision – go for it or punt?  The safer, expected answer, was to punt.  Yet, for some reason, Coach Taylor decided to keep the offense on the field and go for it. 


I say “for some reason”, for I am not privy to any insider information about Coach Taylor’s decision-making process.  Maybe he told himself when he was ten years old that if he was ever coaching in the Super Bowl and found himself facing a forth and short situation early in the game, that he would go for it.  Thus, making his decision in that moment nothing more than merely keeping a promise to his ten-year-old self. 


Maybe he made that risky offensive call based on the fact that to punt was what everyone expected him to do.  And Coach Taylor prided himself on never doing what everyone expected him to do?  Maybe Coach Taylor watch a documentary about Presbyterian coach Kevin Kelley, who is famous for being the coach that never punts, the night before the big game?  And he felt that this moment in the Super Bowl, early in the first quarter, was a sign from God to go for it?      


The reasoning behind the decision is not nearly as important as the actual decision itself.  Yet, sitting around thinking up possible reasons for his decision does help us to understand that we can’t possibly understand why anyone does anything.  That is unless we are actually able to become someone else, as they are making their decision.  Which, if pondered sufficiently, will prevent us from ever being judgmental about someone else’s decisions, in the future.


Coach Taylor made a decision and the Bengals went for it on fourth down.  And it didn’t work.  Yet, how cool was it that he made the decision?  So many people find themselves frozen with fear when a decision is needed.  Thus, they either choose not to decide, bury their heads in the sand.  Or they simply do what the world around them expects them to do.  Basically, they allow someone else to make the decision for them.  In spite of what they might think or feel.



So, kudos to Coach Taylor for going for it on fourth down.  For his decision might not have won a Super Bowl.  But it motivated this guy, who is out there every single day, simply trying to build a better boat.