PHOENIX - At 33 years old Rams head coach Sean McVay has the youngest coaching tree in NFL history. As the annual league meetings got underway Sunday at the Arizona Biltmore, McVay took a few moments to expound on why he thinks his old quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is going to set down roots in Cincinnati as the Bengals head coach.
“He’s got a great confidence and a leadership and a steady hand,” McVay said. “When you spend any time around Zac, you can feel he was that quarterback that was a great leader at Nebraska. His even-keel demeanor and disposition I think is really valuable for your team and what you want to do as a head coach. That’s a great trait he possesses.”
McVay says you only have to look at the way Taylor went about building his coaching staff to see the even keel. He watched as Taylor took some heat for the time it took him to settle on his defensive coaches and was impressed he didn’t blink in choosing Giants secondary coach Lou Anarumo as a first-time coordinator.
“Zac did good job. Really patient,” McVay said. “Naturally there’s an inclination to get it done, get it done. The thing that was really impressive on his part was the strategic approach he took to finding the right guys for him. He’s really excited about Lou and Lou’s a great coach in this league.”
McVay called the plays in Los Angeles, but he has no doubt Taylor is up to the task in Cincinnati.
“He was really influential in what we were doing the last couple of years,” McVay said. “I learned from his as much as he’ll say he learned from me. It was a mutual respect.”
MAYOCK ON TEZ: Raiders general manager Mike Mayock may not have drafted Vontaze Burfict as the NFL Network analyst in 2012, but he and Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther go way back in suburban Philadelphia and he’s all for this week’s one-year deal with the linebacker the Bengals released last week. Since Guenther was Burfict’s linebackers coach in his Pro Bowl season of 2013, Burfict has played in less than nine games per year.
“Paul has a great connection with Vontaze. I think that’s the key to the whole thing,” Mayock said. “Paul was with him there. He can line up our guys. He knows the defense. He can get our front going and line them up. He’s a motivating force and when he’s not hurt and he’s in shape, he’s as physical and as tough as anyone in football.”
AS WE REMEMBER GRONK: With Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announcing his retirement Sunday, it’s time to remember his debut, the 2010 opener in Foxboro against the Bengals. Cincinnati was looking for a first-round tight end that draft, but like every team in the league they passed on Gronkowski and his fragile back history.
They opted for Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham at No. 21 and while he didn’t come close to Gronkowski’s 79 career TDs (he’s 50 behind), he has had a solid career with 373 catches in 132 games. Gronkowski is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with 15.1 yards per his 521 catches in 115 games.
The Patriots won that opener on Sept. 12, 2010, 38-24. Gronkowski had his only catch day of the for a one-yard TD, the first of the 79. Gresham also had a touchdown on a one-yard catch and had six catches for 24 yards in his debut. But it was the fourth-round rookie tight end that had the Patriots’ longest play of the day on his only catch of the day when Aaron Hernandez was wide open and converted a 45-yard catch-and-run.