Dan Pitcher, the Bengals' new first-time quarterbacks coach whose first assignment appears to be entrusted with the team's next franchise quarterback, has been in enough rooms during his nine NFL seasons to know exactly what it means.
"I don't think coaching that position in any building is real low-profile," Pitcher said Thursday. "Regardless of how the players in that room shake out, I know I've got a challenge ahead of me. The nice thing about it is I've got guys who have coached in that room in multiple buildings across this league and they've got a ton of experience."
Pitcher may have just turned 33, but he's heading into his fifth season with the Bengals after showing both head coaches, Marvin Lewis and Zac Taylor, that he was a coach on the come assisting quarterbacks and wide receivers for two seasons each. Taylor saw enough in his first few months on the job last year that he put Pitcher, the assistant to quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, in charge of game management.
Their faith in Pitcher is part of the reason for what looks to be a rare move. According to reports, Van Pelt is soon to become the offensive coordinator in Cleveland and while the Bengals frown on helping teams in the AFC North, they apparently didn't want to block the highly-regarded Van Pelt from running his own offense. Plus, they have his right-hand man.
"Being so close to Alex, I took away a lot," Pitcher said. "Just the way he goes about interacting with his players and how he endears himself to those guys just by being who he is. Authentic. It's been a good lesson for me."
Between Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, they have combined to coach quarterbacks for nine seasons and five teams. Pitcher also worked a year with the receivers under coach James Urban, now the Ravens quarterbacks coach.
"I am excited to promote Dan to quarterbacks coach," Taylor said in a press release. "Dan is a rising star who has demonstrated that he has a bright future as he continues to take on more responsibility. Dan's background as a successful college quarterback, along with his experience coaching wide receivers and helping Alex in the quarterback room will allow him to bring great value to that position."
Pitcher, an upstate New York native from Cortland who stayed home to quarterback Division III Cortland State, ended his three-year career as a starter named a ﬁnalist for the Gagliardi Trophy presented annually to Division III's best player.
He gets it that winning the Cortaca Jug in the rivalry with Ithaca (which Pitcher won twice) isn't on the same level as Joe Burrow winning the national title. But he also knows the position and has seen the pro game from all angles that include his four years in the Colts personnel department.
"I've seen it through their eyes and understand the issues that come up in the heat of battle," Pitcher said. "I understand what comes with the preparation process at that position, to be the most prepared guy in the room and having everyone else looking to you to set that standard. I've lived that even though it was at a much lower level, it does translate."