It’s not easy for a son to make his own way in the shadow of a father who led an NFL team to a Super Bowl appearance.
But for Brian Callahan to carve out a football coaching career of his own, he needed to create his unique path thanks to building strong working relationships and thinking outside-the-box as a teacher.
Callahan’s coaching road to Cincinnati included working for the likes of Gary Kubiak, Jon Gruden and John Fox. Callahan also tutored quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr, and worked for nine years in NFL offenses.
It’s that experience and success that head coach Zac Taylor is excited to have Callahan on staff as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
Here are five facts about Callahan and what he will bring to the Bengals as an offensive coordinator.
1. Football Lifer - Callahan had never coached with Taylor before but the two developed a strong relationship through his father Bill Callahan, who coached Taylor at Nebraska. As the son of a college and NFL coach, Brian grew up with football on an everyday basis. Going to his father’s practices meant sitting in on meetings with Gruden or playing catch with greats like Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.
Much like Taylor, Callahan is as football lifer. He is entering his 10th season as an NFL coach. The 34-year-old was previously the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions before joining the Raiders. He also worked as a coaching assistant, offensive quality control coach, offensive assistant and a quarterbacks coach with the Denver Broncos from 2010-15.
2. A New Style of Coordinator –With Taylor planning to call plays, Callahan will serve in a supporting role on game days. It is a trend that continues to gain momentum in today’s NFL.
Callahan will make most of his contributions to the team's play-calling operation before game day. The offensive staff will work with Taylor to create the bulk of play-calling work in the week of preparation leading into a game.
3. Tremendous Quarterback Success - Callahan has worked with some talented quarterbacks, including Manning at Denver, Stafford in Detroit and recently with Carr in Oakland.
Stafford took off in the two years he worked with Callahan throwing 53 touchdowns to just 20 interceptions in that span. With Oakland last season, Carr recorded career highs of 4,049 yards passing, a 68.9 percent competition percentage and 7.3 yards per attempt.
4. Adapt and Attack – For years the NFL was known as a copycat league, especially on offense, with most running similar, risk-averse offenses. Yet a new fresh young crop of offensive innovators have permeated throughout the league. Teams are increasingly willing to challenge the traditional and attempt, or utilize from college, new plays.
Callahan is known as one of those offensive innovators. He mentioned developing a flexible mindset and being open to ideas in the offensive scheme.
“A lot of times you are going to find as guys branch away from wherever they started, they put their own spin on it,” Callahan said. “And, they get around other coaches that have been other places and there's new ideas and injection of what they've done before, and you go, 'OK, I like that. Let's incorporate that in what we do,' and it starts to change as you get further along in your career and it starts to become yours.”
5. SoCal Success - After graduating from UCLA in 2006, Callahan served as a graduate assistant for football operations in 2006 and 2007. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, earned a spot on the Director's Honor Roll (3.00 or better grade-point average) several times and also served as co-chair of the Bruin Athletic Council.
Prior to UCLA, Callahan played club ice hockey at UCLA for one season and high school football at De La Salle in Concord, California. He was part of the team’s 151-game winning streak where he was the backup quarterback to former Michigan and Idaho State signal caller Matt Gutierrez.