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Everything Zac Taylor Had To Say After The Browns-Bengals Game


Head coach

Was that finishing the right way in your mind?

        "It was. We challenged these guys to start the game the right way and to go into the half up 24-0 was great. I'm proud of the way our defense (played) through three quarters — held them to zero. I'm proud of the offense for finishing the last scoring drive with a 99-yard drive. Our special teams units played well all game and did a good job with coverage and kicking aspects. That last game of the season can be tricky, but I thought our guys handled it in the right and professional way, as we expect them to. Really proud of the way they finished. I'm also really proud of the fans for finishing it the right way too. The turnout today was really awesome, and the support we've gotten from them all year. It's a game where the playoffs are not on the line, its cold, and every excuse not to be here. It was really appreciated by us and the team to see that. I looked out in the upper deck and saw people there. I don't know if that'd be me, but they showed up and supported us. I appreciate that and we look forward to rewarding them with championship-level football next year."

A win was the goal, but is it also nice to see milestones like Joe and Jamarr's hit?

        "You're happy for those guys because of the work they've put in to get there. It's special because we're so team-based that everyone wants the team to do well, but when you get opportunities for guys to hit important personal milestones that are forever documented in the history of this team, I think that's cool for them to do that."

What was your message to the team afterwards?

        "Just proud of the way they finished today. That's all we could control — how we came out, and playing with good energy. I thought in a lot of ways that's what we did. We wanted to win the turnover (and) penalty (battles). We went into this game first in the league in fewest penalties and third in turnover margin. We wanted to continue to play disciplined ball and finish high in those categories. We did a good job of that."

The game script meant a lot of opportunities for younger guys ...

        "It was good for the game to take shape the way it did. They rested a bunch of guys, so for us to get some opportunities for guys who haven't had a lot of reps to A) be rewarded for their efforts this season, and B) (have) a launching pad into the future. There were a lot of guys that got opportunities and made the most of them."

Does it mean anything to not go winless in the division?

        "Our goals are to win the division and win the Super Bowl. You have to fare well in the division to get to the best opportunity to do that. It's something we're always aware of and we have to do a better job of that going forward. It's a tough division, but going 1-5 in no way shape or form is acceptable for us. All we can do is control today and we found a way to get a win."

How surreal is it to have a winning record but finish last in the AFC North?

        "It's a good division. We didn't do enough to give ourselves our best chance. That's really all I got."

With the season now complete, how would you assess the way Jake Browning took over for Joe Burrow?

        "I was really proud of Jake. You don't get a lot of reps over the course of the season, and then you're thrown into the fire. We were playing really meaningful team football that kept us in the chase. I thought he performed very well and gave us a lot of confidence in the future for our backup job. That's one of those things; you never know what you have with someone until they go out and do it. We try to make it as best we can in the preseason, but you're not playing with or against starters. Jake had a great opportunity and he made the most of it. I'm really proud of how the guys rallied around him and I thought he handled his opportunities really well."

After the 99-yard drive, it looked like the two of you shared a laugh?

        "I was biting him a little with the headset (smiles), so we had a good little communication there."

Was he upset with the call?

        "No, we're all good."

Contract talk is far off, but do you get any sense when you're out there that this is one of the last games together with some of these guys?

        "I don't put a lot of thought into that. Those conversations haven't even begun to take place. They do their job upstairs and I get up to speed as the spring goes. I'm not going to worry about that."

With that said, how much do you relish those moments where it may be "one last game?"

        "Every group, every year, is that team. It's the way the rosters go, things take shape as the offseason goes and it's never the same. I do appreciate this group for fighting until the bitter end. Their character cannot be questioned. What they went through and what they gave us this year, I'm so proud of them for continuing to stay together. You never saw anyone point fingers, even if we lost two games in a row. We didn't turn on each other and point fingers, and I think that's the mark of a locker room that has a great chance going forward. I'm proud of our staff and players for maintaining that throughout the season."

You have been level-headed all season despite the ups and downs. Why is it so important to be even keel as a coach?

        "I just try to be true to myself. I don't know if it's important for a head coach necessarily, it's my personality. It's my dad's, brother's personality. Its one thing my dad has instilled in us is to be true to yourself. People respond to that better than if you're trying to fake your way through it. It's just the only way I know how to be."