A tree grows in Paycor Stadium.
It goes by the name of Bengals head coach Zac Taylor after the first branch broke off Wednesday when the Titans confirmed their new head coach is Brian Callahan, Taylor's top lieutenant, close friend, and one of his first hires five years ago as his offensive coordinator.
"I'm very happy for Brian and Allyson," Taylor said of the couple who have also been his neighbors. "Brian has played an enormous role in the foundation that's been laid here and the success we've experienced. This opportunity to be a head coach is well deserved I know he will do a great job."
Taylor's coaching staff has had the most continuity in the NFL. Now it's the first time he has to find a new coordinator after five seasons Callahan, Lou Anarumo, and Darrin Simmons have headed offense, defense, and special teams, respectively. Callahan, 39, was involved in a multitude of aspects as Taylor's eyes and ears in the offensive room, particularly devising protections.
But it's also a move they prepared for even before they hired Callahan away from being Jon Gruden's quarterbacks coach with the Raiders just as 2019 Senior Bowl week started. By going with an offensive head coach and play-caller in Taylor, the Bengals were guaranteed of keeping the same system even if they lost coaches.
Although Callahan figured heavily in the drafting and development of quarterback Joe Burrow, the system and play-caller that has turned Burrow into the NFL's all-time completion percentage leader and has led the Bengals to three straight winning seasons is still in place.
The Titans may be looking at the Bengals model. After firing head coach Mike Vrabel at the end of this past season, Tennessee had been working on four offensive coordinators in six years. Plus, with the Titans seemingly ready to turn to sophomore quarterback Will Levis, Callahan has a track record of writing in 4,000-yard passing seasons. Matthew Stafford hit the mark twice when Callahan was quarterbacks coach in Detroit and Burrow has done it here in his two full seasons.
The Bengals also still have on staff two key coaches in the passing game, quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher and wide receivers coach Troy Walters, who are potential internal candidates to replace Callahan. The club also is conducting a thorough search of external candidates and is underway with the interview process.