Titans Hire Bengals Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan As Their Head Coach

Jan 25, 2024, 5:08 PM


Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan looks on as Joe Burrow #9 prepares to run a drill during training camp workouts at the practice field outside Paul Brown Stadium on August 27, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have hired Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan as their head coach, tasked with trying to turn them back into winners and groom Will Levis into their franchise quarterback.

The Titans announced Wednesday their hiring of the first of 10 candidates that they interviewed.

They moved quickly Monday when the NFL window opened for second in-person interviews of current coaches after the divisional playoff round, making him the first coach hired from outside a team’s organization this month.

“Brian has a track record of success and a range of experience that has prepared him for this opportunity,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “His football knowledge and his enthusiasm for the game really stand out, and beyond that, we think his ability to lead will make him the ideal fit for our franchise.”

He will be introduced at a news conference Thursday.

The Titans interviewed Callahan, 39, on Monday and quickly worked to finalize a contract before he could leave town for interviews with other teams. He replaces Mike Vrabel, fired on Jan. 9 after six seasons with losses in 18 of his final 24 games.

Callahan will be the franchise’s sixth different coach since leaving Texas for Tennessee in 1997. He also is the third coach hired since the NFL regular season ended Jan. 7.

New England promoted Jerod Mayo to replace Bill Belichick, and the Raiders elevated their interim coach, Antonio Pierce. Carolina, the Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta, Seattle and Washington are still looking for coaches.

Strunk also made some organizational changes, promoting general manager Ran Carthon, hired last January, to executive vice president. Assistant GM Chad Brinker now will be president of football operations.

Carthon will have control of issues ranging from the roster, personnel decisions for the draft and free agency, oversight of Callahan and his coaching staff, scouting and sports medicine. Brinker will oversee departments that manage the salary cap, analytics, communications and team operations including security.

He also will continue to help with college and NFL scouting.

“This is not my father’s NFL,” said Strunk, whose late father founded the Titans. “As our league continues to evolve in areas like analytics, sports science and technology, football organizations have become more complex and multifaceted.”

Strunk said that’s why she split duties between Carthon and Brinker, who spent 13 seasons in Green Bay before being hired by Tennessee in February 2023. Brinker will keep football operations innovating as Carthon focuses on the team.

She credited Carthon with impressing her with how he builds a roster, fulfilling his reputation as a talent evaluator and culture builder that led her to make him the franchise’s first Black GM. She said Carthon makes the Titans a destination for the NFL’s top talent, so expanding his role only made sense.

“Our organization will now benefit more completely from Ran’s unique ability to build and lead a championship-caliber football team,” Strunk said.

That will allow Callahan, with his 14 years of NFL experience, to focus on coaching as a first-time head coach.

Strunk noted Callahan was with Denver when the Broncos won the Super Bowl for the 2015 season with Peyton Manning and was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator when the Bengals reached the Super Bowl for the 2021 season — stunning the Titans then as the AFC’s No. 1 seed to get there.

Callahan is credited with aiding in the development of quarterback Joe Burrow. He will get the chance now to work with Levis, the quarterback Tennessee took at No. 33 overall last April. Levis went 3-6 as a rookie after taking over in October.

The Titans also have the seventh overall draft pick this April and have the third-most salary cap space in the NFL.

The son of former Raiders coach Bill Callahan has been a popular target in head coaching searches. He interviewed with several teams last year before opting to stay in Cincinnati. Callahan also interviewed recently with the Chargers for their coaching vacancy.

This season, Callahan helped former practice squad quarterback Jake Browning go 4-3 as a starter after a season-ending injury to Burrow, keeping the Bengals in the playoff mix until the end. Callahan will get to face his old boss Zac Taylor when Cincinnati visits Tennessee this season.

Callahan played quarterback at UCLA and began his NFL career as a coaching assistant for the Broncos in 2010 before being promoted to offensive quality control coach in 2011, and then offensive assistant in 2013.

He was quarterbacks coach for the Lions in 2016-17, working with Matthew Stafford and then with Derek Carr while working for the Raiders in 2018 before joining the Bengals.

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Titans Hire Bengals Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan As Their Head Coach