Where Is the Best Landing Spot for Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan?

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has had four interviews for head coach openings, with another coming next week.

CINCINNATI – The NFL’s new rule on interviewing prospective coaches, which was passed in October, has teams talking to a record number of candidates due to the ban on in-person meetings until after the divisional round of the playoffs and the convenience of virtual interviews.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan is one of the beneficiaries, having already participated in four virtual interviews with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, and Los Angeles Chargers. And he’s scheduled for an in-person interview with the Titans next week.

Callahan interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts last offseason, when the Bengals were coming off back-to-back deep playoff runs that took them to two AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl LVI.

Where Is Best Landing Spot for Bengals O.C. Brian Callahan?

But Callahan is an even hotter candidate this offseason due to the way the team was able to manage Joe Burrow’s calf injury early in the season and, more importantly, because of the way Jake Browning performed once Burrow went down with a season-ending wrist injury in November.

The Bengals have the luxury of being the only team in the league that has had the same head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator for five consecutive seasons. And that five-year run has Callahan standing as the league’s longest tenured OCs with the same team.

As much as head coach Zac Taylor would like to keep that continuity together, he would love to see Callahan get an opportunity to be a head coach.

In a recent interview, Taylor was asked about the role Callahan has had in Burrow’s development.

“Not only Joe, but our entire offense,” Taylor said. “He has helped develop every position we have. He’s invaluable. There’s really not enough things I can say about him. If someone just followed us for a week, they we would be, ‘Oh, no wonder everyone is so high on Brian.’ So it’s just a matter of opportunity and getting to talk to the right people. I have no doubt he’ll be successful.”

In addition to Taylor’s endorsement, Callahan has another thing working for him. Every coach who interviews is asked about who would be on his staff, and Callahan has the trump card of promising to bring on board the best offensive line coach in the league: his father, Bill Callahan.

If Brian secures a head coaching job, he will have followed Taylor’s path to landing one without a full season as a play caller.

Taylor dismissed the notion of play calling being a needed pre-requisite.

“That’s just people that don’t actually know,” he said. “He needs to go call plays. Why? Nobody really can say that. It’s just something people parrot out there. He has been the coordinator here for five years. He coordinates everything having to do with it. He establishes the whole structure of our offense.

“On game day, he and I are in constant communication,” Taylor continued. “So that is calling plays. That is establishing an offense. He knows everything I go through on a daily basis as head coach. He’s as prepared as anybody can be.”

Based on the league-wide trend of pairing new head coaches with young quarterbacks, along with other factors, Carolina would seem to be Callahan’s best chance. The Panthers drafted Bryce Young No. 1 overall last year, and he struggled as a rookie while No. 2 pick C.J. Stroud had a year worthy of MVP votes.

The Chargers have a more established quarterback in Justin Herbert, and the Falcons have quarterback questions with former University of Cincinnati product Desmond Ridder struggling and getting benched for journeyman Taylor Heinicke.

It was Wednesday when the Titans announced they would be conducting a second interview with Callahan. The day before, betonline.ag released their list of odds for each head coach opening.

The Tennessee job already was the one Callahan was most favored to win, with odds at 14/1, so the news of his second interview could have him climbing the list, which has him listed seventh behind Bobby Slowik (1/1), Dan Quinn (11/4), Antonio Pierce (6/1), Bill Belichick (8/1), Ben Johnson (9/1) and Mike Kafka (10/1).

For the Atlanta job, Callahan is tied for the 10th best odds at 25/1, behind heavy favorite Belichick (2/3), Eric Bienemy (11/4) and a quartet of candidates at 10/1 that includes Slowik, Kellen Moore, Jim Harbaugh, and Mike Vrabel.

On the list of candidates for the Chargers, Callahan is tied for ninth at 25/1, with Harbaugh being the heavy favorite at 1/2.

And in Carolina, Callahan’s odds are 25/1 as well, but he’s 14th on that list.

If Callahan gets a head coaching job somewhere, Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher would slide into the offensive coordinator role. But Pitcher already has one known interview lined up with the New Orleans Saints for their vacant offensive coordinator position after the team parted ways with Pete Carmichael, who had been in New Orleans for 15 seasons.

Pitcher had two interviews with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their offensive coordinator position last offseason.

If Callahan and Pitcher both leave, expect wide receivers coach Troy Walters to take over as offensive coordinator. Prior to joining the Bengals in 2020, Walters was the offensive coordinator at Nebraska for two seasons and at Central Florida for two seasons.

MORE: State of the Cincinnati Bengals

At UCF, he took over an offense that ranked 127th in yards and 125th in scoring and within two years had the Knights ranked fifth in yards and first in points, as they went 13-0 in 2017. Walters was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is presented annually to the country’s top college football assistant coach.

In 2022, Walters was invited to be a part of the NFL’s first coaching and front office accelerator program, which was designed to promote more diversity among the coaching and personnel ranks.

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