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Bengals New QBs Coach Brad Kragthorpe: A Coach's Son At Home On The Move

Quarterback Coach Brad Kragthorpe in the locker room after the Bengals beat the Titans on Janaury 24, 2022.
Quarterback Coach Brad Kragthorpe in the locker room after the Bengals beat the Titans on Janaury 24, 2022.

If there was ever a guy born to coach Joe Burrow, new Bengals quarterbacks coach Brad Kragthorpe just might be the guy.

Kragthorpe, a third-generation coach, may not be a Bayou legend like Burrow. But he played for one in Les Miles and he coached under one in Ed Orgeron.

Not only that, during his first year in that LSU quarterbacks room, Kragthorpe was coached by his father, two-time head coach Steve Kragthorpe. Then Brad became a coach himself at his alma mater and worked with Burrow as the Ohio State transfer settled into Baton Rouge.

And, not only that, the two times Brad Kragthorpe threw the ball for the Tigers in his career as a holder and backup quarterback, both plays ended in touchdowns.

"One was technically not a pass. More like a lateral," says Kragthorpe of the 16-yard stunner to kicker Trent Domingue that beat Florida in 2015. "That was the great thing about playing for Les Miles. At any time there could be a fake field goal."

Kragthorpe is used to getting it exact for Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. A member of Taylor's original 2019 staff, Kragthorpe has been on the ground floor of the system as first an offensive assistant, then assistant wide receivers coach, and then assistant quarterbacks coach before replacing Dan Pitcher, Taylor's new offensive coordinator.

"His responsibilities have grown every year. We always put a little more on his plate as the years have gone by and we're glad we did," Taylor says. "If you gave him an assignment, he'll knock it out of the park, and you get information that is right-on and helpful."

Like Burrow, Kragthorpe is a coach's son. As he heads into his sixth season in Cincinnati, Kragthorpe notes it is the longest he's lived anywhere in his 31 years.

"I know how rare it is to do that," Brad Kragthorpe says.

Kindergarten and the early grades were College Station, where his first memories are going into the office on Sundays to watch tape with his dad, the Texas A&M offensive coordinator. Junior High was Tulsa, where his dad was the head coach at the university. High school was Louisville, where his dad was the head coach at U of L and where Brad quarterbacked Trinity High School to Kentucky's championship game. When Steve got let go after that junior year, Brad finished high school back in Tulsa.

But before that season, he spent the summer visiting College Station and his dad, back on the Texas A&M staff that had a graduate assistant named Zac Taylor, whom Kragthorpe got to know.  

(Now is a good time for this footnote. Kragthorpe's grandfather Dave gave Bengals all-time winning head coach Marvin Lewis his first coaching job when he was the head man at Idaho State.)

"Being a coach's son was something that inspired me. Probably more than anything else," Kragthorpe says. "l loved the lifestyle. I loved being around the programs he was coaching in.

"It wasn't hard. Being involved in sports meant you always had a built-in friend group. Whenever we moved, I'd hop into whatever sport was going on that season and roll from there. Basketball. Baseball. Whatever they had."

That accounts for Kragthorpe's ability to get along with players from all over. When he was breaking in as an offensive analyst at LSU in 2018, he spent much of his time with the quarterbacks and Burrow, the new starter from up north the year before he won the Heisman Trophy. In the 2021 draft Kragthorpe was reunited with another skill player he worked with at LSU. That freshman wide receiver.

Ja'Marr Chase.

"I think what I took away playing for my dad there was how to treat and respect your players," Kragthorpe says. "It means so much and it goes beyond the football."

The only person on the Bengals who has known Burrow longer than Kragthorpe is Ohio State buddy Sam Hubbard.

"I feel like we're close.  I feel like we know each other very well. I know his likes and dislikes," Kragthorpe says. "With the amount of time we've spent together, we have a very good relationship that continues to grow."

So is the coaching staff. Taylor created the position of pass game coordinator and hired Vikings offensive line coach Justin Rascati. Taylor wouldn't delve into his specific duties, but he counts it as part of an offseason process where "we're very hard on ourselves. We're looking to get better at everything."

"A lot of teams have (a pass game coordinator). It's another brain in the building. We're not looking to add just to add. I've always been very clear about that. You interview the right person, and you can tell they'll have an impact. They'll have a fresh perspective on some things we've done for a while or may shift to. We've got a great vision for what he can do."

Rascati has been installed in the office next to Kragthorpe, perhaps an indication of how closely they'll be working together. But then, room assignments may not be an indicator of anything this offseason. Taylor is in the process of shuffling around the offices.

"Change it up," Taylor says. "I'm not going to make too much of it. Just change it up."

Kragthorpe, the guy who has always been on the move, fits right in.

"He's paid his dues," Taylor says.