Brian Callahan Scores at Titans' Introduction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Brian Callahan worked with Zac Taylor from the start of his Bengals regime in 2019.

That first version of the team started 0-11 and finished 2-14. The following year with a rookie Joe Burrow was a still bad 4-11-1. The third year they went to the Super Bowl.

Brian Callahan speaks during a press conference after being hired as the Tennessee Titans new head coach at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.
Brian Callahan/ © Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Titans certainly hope they bounce back from their roster issue more quickly than that, but Callahan said at his introductory press conference that he learned a great deal from enduring the down times.

“We knew, at some point, as we kept building our roster that we were going to be a really good football team,” Callahan said. “Our players believed it, our coaches believed it. Those are good lessons to be through some of those lean years. I mean 0-11 is not a fun place to be. But we learned a lot from it and really the foundation of what our team became two years later was a lot of guys who went through that process.

“You learn a lot about people when things are tough. We learned a lot about the guys on that football team. And there were a lot of them that were incredibly high character, loved playing football, and they helped us get out of those times as well. You learn the most when things aren’t going as well. Those are intense learning experiences for me.”

We’ll take a look sometime soon at the team Taylor inherited in 2019 compared to the one Callahan is inheriting in 2024. I’d expect the Titans' new coach to be in a lot better shape.

In a navy blue suit with a Titans pin on the right lapel, a white shirt and a two-tone blue tie, Callahan was smooth, level and enthusiastic in about 40 minutes at the podium in the team’s event space near the fancy third-floor patio that overlooks the practice fields.

He spoke of his quick comfort with the Titans interview committee.

"Everything felt right, the relationships felt right, the energy felt right,” he said. As he toured the building and met more people, he said, “It felt like a family.”

He quoted Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp: “When you agree on a common idea and work towards it together, you can create something very special.”

Kuharsky megaphone“That’s what I believe in, that’s what we will do here,” Callahan said. “…I want a place where people love coming to work, they enjoy everybody they are around. And that creates an environment that’s sustainable and you can have sustained excellence and have a chance to win a lot of football games.”

“…What we’re trying to do here is establish a culture of high standards and clear communication both on and off the field: Meetings, walk-throughs, practices, how we work in the building, how our scouts work, how our players work, how everybody in this building works. Everyone’s going to be held to a high standard. We want to be held to a high standard. I’ve never met a player in football who doesn’t want to be held to the highest possible standard.”

He had a good and thoughtful answer for everything he was asked, though he was in line with Mike Vrabel’s thinking that pass protection is a holistic offensive issue, "everybody’s problem."

I sure hope in time Callahan or Ran Carthon will state the glaringly obvious: The Titans need far better linemen – particularly one at left tackle -- in the mix of that holistic approach to protection.

Here are his initial thoughts on offensive philosophy:

Completing balls at a high percentage will require Callahan to craft game plans to really highlight Will Levis' best throws. He did not come out of Kentucky with accuracy rated as a strength. And Levis completed his rookie year with just a .584 completion percentage. That is certainly an area for growth. Callahan and Levis have already talked and met.

And defensive philosophy:

Flexible and adaptable defenses require flexible and adaptable players, and the Titans will certainly need to add a lot more of those to fulfill his vision.

Overall, completely sensible, basic broad places for him to start, if not highly detailed. He will build on them with us as he gets to know what he's got to work with.

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