The Bengals could not follow up their run of back-to-back AFC championship game appearances with another playoff berth, seeing Joe Burrow‘s injury disrupt their progress. But Cincinnati staffers are still being considered for promotions.
With Brian Callahan receiving extensive HC interest, Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher is also in the mix for at least one OC role. The Saints sent Pitcher an interview request for their play-calling post, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets.
Pitcher interviewed for the Buccaneers’ OC job last year and drew interest from the Ravens. With Jake Browning submitting some quality work during the Bengals’ post-Burrow stretch, it stands to reason teams will be interested in seeing what Callahan and Pitcher have to offer on this year’s coaching carousel.
Fifteen years have passed since the Saints have searched for an offensive coordinator. Pete Carmichael held the job from 2009-23, serving as one of the longest-tenured assistants in modern NFL history. While teams have kept an offensive HC as their play-caller for longer (though, even that is rare), it is nearly unheard of for a coordinator to stay in one position that long. The Saints used Carmichael as their play-caller for the past two years, with defense-oriented Dennis Allen succeeding Sean Payton. But they fired the veteran staffer Tuesday.
The Saints could run into multiple issues with Pitcher. Not only will New Orleans attempt to hire an OC with its head coach set to enter the 2024 season on a hot seat, but Callahan’s prospects on the HC carousel would stand to affect Pitcher. The Bengals have employed Pitcher since 2016, and the team extended him last year. He is viewed as a natural in-house Callahan replacement, should he land a top job this offseason.
Pitcher, 37, worked as a Colts scout for four years under Ryan Grigson but has been a Bengals coach since their Marvin Lewis years. Zac Taylor kept Pitcher upon taking over and elevated him to assistant QBs coach in 2019; since 2020, Pitcher has been Burrow’s position coach. The Bengals have managed to keep their core staffers on offense together since Burrow’s arrival, but teams’ interest could disrupt that status this year.
Rams assistant Zac Robinson is also on the Saints’ radar. New Orleans sent Sean McVay‘s quarterbacks coach an interview request as well, according to NewOrleans.football’s Nick Underhill. The McVay tree is already one of the NFL’s most fruitful, and it is probably not a coincidence the Saints are requesting meetings with Pitcher — who has learned under a McVay pupil for five years — and one of his current lieutenants.
Robinson, 37, has been on McVay’s Rams staff for the past five years. Four of those, including the team’s Super Bowl-winning year, have come coaching QBs. Losing OC Kevin O’Connell in 2022, McVay elevated Robinson to QBs coach; he had been L.A.’s assistant QBs coach in 2021. The Rams went outside the organization to replace Liam Coen as OC, hiring Mike LaFleur, but Robinson remained onboard as QBs coach.
In addition to the McVay tree’s early supply of HCs, teams are looking into his current and former assistants as coordinators. The Bears are interviewing Shane Waldron and Thomas Brown. This is believed to be Robinson’s third OC interview request; he met with the Ravens and Chargers last year.