‘The Leader in the Clubhouse Was Right Here’ – Dan Pitcher’s Most Interesting Thoughts on Staying With Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals introduced Dan Pitcher as their new offensive coordinator, and he had a lot of interesting things to say about why he stayed.

CINCINNATI — After two weeks of job interviews and uncertainty, Dan Pitcher was back in a familiar spot but in a new chair Thursday morning, sitting at the front of the Paycor Stadium news conference to be introduced as the new offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite talking to other teams about becoming their offensive coordinator and calling the plays, Pitcher said he always felt a tug to return to Cincinnati, where his NFL coaching career started and has remained since 2016.

Dan Pitcher Holds First News Conference as Bengals OC

Pitcher and head coach Zac Taylor, who was seated next to him, spent 20 minutes answering questions. Here are some of the most interesting things they said.

Joe Burrow’s Big Impact

Seemingly, everything involving the Bengals starts with Burrow, and while Pitcher cited a number of reasons for wanting to stay in Cincinnati, he made it clear how much of a role the QB played in his decision.

“It’s huge,” Pitcher said. “There are a lot of people in this profession that I respect who have great perspective who have reached out to me and almost to a person their advice is, ‘When you have an elite quarterback, you hang on as long as you can.’ And we have that here.”

“Not only is he an elite player, but I’ve gotten to know him so well as a person,” Pitcher continued. “He’s a special person. He’s different. They don’t make many like him, and to get to continue working with him day in and day out, knowing that we have a guy that can win us a World Championship, it’s hard to put a price on that.”

MORE: State of the Cincinnati Bengals — How Does Jake Browning’s Success Change the Plan for Joe Burrow?

The Bengals promoted Pitcher from assistant quarterbacks coach and clock management specialist in 2019 to quarterbacks coach in 2020 when Alex Van Pelt left to become the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

Eight weeks into Pitcher’s job as quarterbacks coach, the Bengals drafted Burrow.

“I love Joe,” Pitcher said. “We’ve been tied at the hip from the moment he came into this building. I was hired into that role two months before that. I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal situation, and I love the fact I get to keep working with him.”

The Stress That Comes With Opportunity

Coaches are nomadic by nature, always looking for promotions and other ways to further their careers.

It’s exciting and rewarding when chances for bigger jobs and money arise, but that also comes with some internal conflict, especially for someone like Pitcher, whom former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hired away from the Indianapolis Colts’ personnel department in 2016.

The New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders, and New England Patriots all showed interest, but Pitcher said through the whole process — which began before former offensive coordinator Brian Callahan created the vacancy by becoming head coach of the Tennessee Titans — he was hoping it would end exactly how it did.

“There was a lot going on,” Pitcher said. “A lot of communication and people reaching out and potential interest. And that’s good. It feels good to be recognized as someone who’s capable of a role like this. That’s what you work toward. That’s why I’ve done the things that I’ve done. I’ve never been shy about that — that my goal is to get to this point.”

“And so you sort through all those things, and in the back of my mind, I’m hoping I’m sitting in front of you right now answering this question,” he added. “And I’m just really glad that I am.”

Pitcher said there is undeniable appeal to going somewhere with a chance to build something from the ground up. But there’s also inherent risk.

“That challenge can be appealing as a competitor, but you gotta be careful,” he said.

“That’s a double-edged sword. There’s all sorts of pitfalls that come with that. Not that I wouldn’t have been willing to take those on and attack something like that with everything I had, but as you sit back and do the cost-benefit analysis of all these potential options, I’ll just keep coming back to it. The leader in the clubhouse was right here. Just really thankful that it worked out this way.”

MORE: Historic Run of Continuity Ends as Tennessee Titans Hire Cincinnati Bengals OC Brian Callahan

And what about Taylor? Were the last few weeks stressful for him?

“At moments. I appreciate the Titans for their timeliness,” he said. “That made things ideal for us because there were timeline issues, and it worked out the way it needed to work out, thankfully.”

People Before Scheme

You hear coaches say it all the time — “It’s not the Xs and Os; it’s the Jimmys and the Joes.” Pitcher drove that point home on multiple occasions.

The first instance came when Pitcher was asked which of his previous responsibilities — offensive assistant working with wide receivers, clock management specialist, quarterbacks coach, spearheading the third-down plan each week — prepared him most for his role as offensive coordinator.

Pitcher touched on all of them before drilling into his main point.

“I would say one of the biggest parts of this job has nothing to do with any of that, which is managing people and leading and providing a vision throughout the week, communicating,” he said.

“Just being in this building and working with the guys we have has prepared me for that. I have such great relationships with these coaches and these players. My role will be a little bit different in that now, but to me, that’s first and foremost. All these other things are very important that we’re talking about, but this is a leadership position, and it’s going to be my job to lead these guys.”

Pitcher circled back to the topic a little bit later when asked how working with Callahan helped prepare him to be offensive coordinator.

He again started with the football portion before getting into the personal side of the job.

“Brian has been huge in my development,” Pitcher said. “Brian just has a wealth of knowledge, really, from an entire life in football, being around great coaches and great quarterbacks and great players and great offenses. I’ve just taken so much from him philosophically, particularly in the areas of protection and the dropback pass game and what that all looks like and how that ties together.”

“The biggest thing I have probably taken from Brian is just how he treated people in the building in that role,” Pitcher continued. “I think when you value people, you get the best out of them. When they feel valued, they give you their best. That’s how I have felt as a position coach on this staff. It’s now my job to continue that and make sure all the position coaches feel that way.”

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