The Cincinnati Bengals minicamp ended two days early. The team has combined record for the past two seasons has been 6-25-1. With that type of record, conventional wisdom says they need as much practice time as possible. Joe Burrow did not get a full season his rookie year. He did not even get to experience a full training camp due to the pandemic. This all points to needing more practice time. Still, Head Coach Zac Taylor made the right move ending minicamp two days early.
Mini Camp Ends Early for the Cincinnati Bengals
Initially, the social media response was negative towards this decision. Thankfully Paul Dehner Jr. from the Athletic wrote a column that explained the reasoning. Soon after multiple sources backed up Dehner’s column parroting the same information. Coach Taylor knew the two days of minicamp were not as valuable as getting the team over 85% vaccinated against COVID-19. This is especially true knowing the Bengals had 100% participation for Organized Team Activities (OTA’s).
What Was Missed?
James Rapien from AllBengals.com has reported that Thursday’s practice was scheduled to be a closed-door walkthrough for the team. Nothing new was going to be covered for the team, and walkthroughs have happened over OTA’s already. That means the team only missed one day of important practice.
The NFL requires teams to have 85% of their players vaccinated to open up practices. Hitting that number allows position groups to meet in the same room, players to work out in the same areas, and there will be no restrictions on contact. This is the type of preparation necessary to help a team achieve greatness. NFL.com reported on June 15 that less than half of the NFL’s teams have 50 or more players vaccinated.
The Bengals were close to hitting the 85% number due to their past efforts. They have brought medical experts to talk to the team about COVID-19 and the truths about the vaccines, as well as opportunities to get the vaccine on site. All of this still added up to being short of the NFL’s 85% number. Zac Taylor made a deal with his team to get to that number if they were released for vacation two days early. Now the Bengals will have the huge advantage of in-person training and practices in the future.
OTA’s Had 100% Participation
The entire Cincinnati Bengals team attended OTA’s. To have 100% participation is impressive compared to 21 teams that did not conduct in-person OTA’s at all. This is why 2 days of minicamp were not important compared to the future value of no restrictions on the team. They already had 10 days of 100% participation which gave much more value to the team. The Bengals have a good foundation for training camp and the preseason.
Zac Taylor Made The Right Move
Ultimately, regardless of players’ feelings about vaccinations, the NFL has set the number of 85% in stone. If teams cannot reach this number, they will be forced to practice with pandemic restrictions. Zac Taylor realized this is a big advantage for his team, so he made the deal to skip two practices. Jessie Bates and other team leaders are on record as supporting this move. Decisions like shutting down minicamp from the Cincinnati Bengals will lead to future success.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images