It's a short week heading into Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paycor Stadium against the Colts, but Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher graciously wedged in a few moments to talk to Bengals.com senior writer Geoff Hobson.
Head coach Zac Taylor and his staff drew national raves for Monday night's plan to beat the Jags. Pitcher is one of those up-and-comers whose name buzzes around the league about his work with Joe Burrow and Jake Browning. Sunday marks a bit of a full circle moment for him.
GH: Jake Browning sets the record for best completion percentage by a quarterback in his first two starts and the guy he's replacing, Joe Burrow, has the best completion percentage of all-time. What is it?
DP: I think it's a combination of everything. I think first and foremost, Jake deserves the credit because there's one guy that catches the ball and one guy that makes a decision and one guy that has to actually make the throws. We always talk about that. It's our job as a coaching staff to craft a plan and then install it in such a way that he has a chance to go have success, but there's only one guy that can go do it. So he deserves the vast majority of the credit.
I believe in the way we do things. I believe in how the system is set up. I think it's for a guy that's smart and puts the work in and can see things. I don't know if there's one you'd rather be in than the one that we have.
GH: People may have forgotten, but you got into the NFL in player personnel at the Colts. Did scouting help your coaching career?
DP: Absolutely. The four years I spent there, I always tell people, I kind of took the scenic route to get to where I ultimately wanted to go. But if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change anything because I think what I learned in that time, how to see the game differently. I'd always seen football through one perspective and that was playing the quarterback position and coaching from that perspective. That experience forced me to see it from 20 other perspectives that I never would have been asked to do.
Just from roster building, player evaluation, everything that goes into the organization, and building a team, so I will always count those years as invaluable to my development.
GH: Who has been the most influential guy in your coaching career?
DP: That's a hard question because I feel like I've taken pieces of a lot of different people. Froom when I got into league watching (Colts head coach) Chuck Pagano, how he handled the players. Watching Coach (Bruce) Arians in the year that he took over when Coach Pagano got sick. Rob Chudzinski, Pep Hamilton were guys I spent a lot of time around and then I got here and it was Marvin (Lewis), who I have immense respect for …
GH: What did you like or take from Marvin?
DP: Just who he was as a person. How he treated people, how genuine he was, and how he just was consistent. I believe the same things about our current head coach. Other people here, Kenny Zampese, Bill Lazor, Alex Van Pelt. Paul Alexander. I feel I've taken slivers of all of them and that's what you do in life. Find things that work for you. There are things that all those guys did that don't work for me. And you build it all and that becomes who you are.
GH: We've talked about this before, maybe ad nauseam. But you and Burrow both grew up in college towns. Cortland, N.Y. Athens, Ohio. Not to mention Zac. Norman, Okla. The quarterback. Jake kind of the same thing. Grew up in a smallish town, Folsom, Calif. So many similarities. Are you guys the same person?
DP: I can promise you they're infinitely more talented than I am. I do just think there's something to … really, when you play the quarterback position, and football is such a big part of who you are growing up, your whole life is training for this moment. It's how you lead people. It's how you teach. It's how you absorb information. It's how you retain it and process.
So it's no accident guys get to this level having a lot of the common traits in the background. That lets you become who you are and you don't get to this level if you don't have, number one, the ability, then number two, all the other intangibles. Jake has all those things. Obviously, Joe has them in spades.
GH: Is the common denominator with you three guys details? All of you seem consumed by detail.
DP: Yeah, but that's part of a bigger thing, which is just a commitment to your craft. Having it mean so much to you, you are willing to forego other things in your life. You're constantly faced with choices and how are you going to spend your time and what you do means so much to you. And you care so much about it. It's very easy to prioritize that and let that happen and other things that may be distractions, just push them aside. If you have to do that, if you want to be great at what you do, and both those guys are able to do that.
GH: Why did you take yourself out of the running for the offensive coordinator job in Tampa Bay last offseason?
DP: I did interview. I essentially decided that the best place for me was to still be in Cincinnati this year. I talked about it at the time. I had a great experience down there. And that is a step that I'm eager to make and when the timing is right I hope to get an opportunity to do that. And I'll be excited when that comes. But it was a decision all about what I believe we have here, how important I felt my role in it was and how valued I feel here by Zac and Cali (offensive coordinator Brian Callahan), the players, and everything. It was just the right thing to do.
GH: What is your proudest moment from Monday night?
DP: I think just seeing Jake stay so level when that brief stretch in the third quarter there, where a lot of things didn't go our way, and just to be in his second start and just have the confidence and the level headedness not to send him in the tank even though none of it really had anything to do with how he was playing. But it's easy to just unravel at that moment. And there was not a hint of that. I was very proud of that.
GH: The focus of Joe and Jake seem to be the same. People say they have the same demeanor out there. All ball. Gym rats.
DP: I think you have to be and that's the kind of guy we gravitate to. That's why he's here.
GH: Proudest moment of your playing career as a quarterback?
DP: I'm going to cop out. My whole last year playing. It was just an absolute confirmation for me that I love the game and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I had some success because of how much work I put in and it was all fun.
GH: How many Cortaca ** Jugs did you win quarterbacking Cortland State against Ithaca?**
DP: Two. Two and oh as a starter. Hey, Cortland is in the (Division III) Final Four. Let's go.