Bengals' OC Brian Callahan Quotes 4.23.20
COURTESY OF CINCINNATI BENGALS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Is Joe Burrow the most accurate college quarterback you have ever studied?
"Yes, he sure is. I think both statistically, and just watching him, he is the most accurate I've graded in the NFL so far. The only guy that was probably close in terms of (being) a total package was Andrew Luck when he came out. He (Burrow) is exceptionally accurate. It's by far one of his greatest strengths."
What's the biggest intangible he has beyond his physical attributes? What stands out to you there?
"I think he's wired the right way when it comes to how he approaches the game. His ability to diagnose and see things on the field comes from his intense study and preparation. He's one of those guys that's rare in that regard. He's so well prepared, he works so hard. And those things, they come with a lot of hard work, but they (also) come easy to him, if that makes sense."
When you met with him and he was doing board work, how quickly was he able to process all of that information?
"He, to me, came across like a guy that had been playing NFL football for 10 years. His ability to understand — he's a coach's kid — (seems like) he's been around it his whole life. Everything just comes naturally (to him) when we're talking about understanding. The things that he could recall, the way that he talked about football, and in the meetings that we've had, the most impressive thing was his ability to understand how it all fits together — what the defense is doing, what the offense is doing, what the protection scheme is. His knowledge was far superior (to) most kids coming out of college."
Can you talk about the responsibility — but also the excitement — you feel in mentoring a kid with this kind of potential?
"I'm extremely excited. It's a unique responsibility to have. I've been fortunate (in that) I've been around two other guys that have been taken No. 1, (but) obviously not as rookies. I was with Peyton Manning for four years and Matthew Stafford for two, both later in their careers, so there's a little bit of difference there, but I understand how those guys think and are wired. The development portion and responsibility that's on all of us (coaches) to bring him along quickly, it's immense and it's fun. That's what we want. I'm looking forward to that challenge, and I know he is too."
What plays does Burrow like best?
"I think he likes good plays best (laughs). They ran a really good system at LSU. They were well-coached. I worked with their offensive line coach in Denver, James Cregg, so I had some familiarity with some of the things they did up front. They were really well coached. They ran an NFL (level) passing game and those guys executed it, both Joe and all of his supporting cast. What you see on his tape versus what we have in our playbook is not going to be all that different. Ultimately, our job is to find ways to highlight our players' strengths; whatever those things are, (and) we're going to find a way to do it. So, you know, if there's some things that Joe likes that he did at LSU that we didn't do as much of (before), we're certainly open to making those additions and using some of the things that he did well. In turn, I think there's things that we do that will help him. It's a marriage, in that sense of trying to find all the ways to put our guys in the best position (to succeed). We also had different types of players than they had at LSU, so the way we feature those guys is going to depend on their strengths as well. It all kind of fits together, and we'll get it all sorted out once we get back to work here at some point."
Terminology is always a big thing as concepts can be similar but can be akin to learning a new language. With the current situation because of the pandemic, you can do things virtually ... but it doesn't compare to actual on field work, right?
"Yeah, I think it's a concern, because we just don't know what to what to expect. Nobody's been through this before. I was part of the lockout year, but this is something entirely different than that, so it's going be a challenge, and one we're going to look forward to attacking. I think that any time you get thrown off your normal rhythm, it's a challenge, and this is certainly well-beyond off anything of a normal rhythm. We're going to have to be creative, we're going to have to find ways to get things done. The unique thing is that everybody is in the same boat. No one's at a supreme disadvantage; we're all working through the same things. It's certainly going to be a challenge, but (I'm) looking forward to it, to be honest."
Did you watch Burrow's college football playoff performances against Oklahoma
and Clemson, and if so, what was going through your mind at the time?
"I did. I didn't watch all of them (live) because (for) one of them, we were getting ready for meetings on a Saturday night — probably the semifinal game. We were just peaking at it as we were getting ready, (so) I didn't get to watch all of it. I did watch the national championship as much as I could, and you saw him in the biggest moments on the biggest stage just play his best and raise his teammates' (play) around him. Anytime you get to watch teams play for championships, it's fun to watch those guys rise to the top like that. He clearly rose (to the occasion). To anybody that was watching, they saw a guy that was in total command of everything that was happening around him. That's impressive when those moments show up, and you could see it from watching the TV copy of the game. You could see his competitiveness, his charisma, his pride — all those things. (And) the toughness — all those things showed up, and I remember thinking (about) those things as I watched that game, just as a fan of football."
Some teams like the New Orleans Saints have an advantage with having a veteran quarterback, right?
"Yeah, I think that every team is different when it comes to that. They're obviously a veteran-heavy team. They've all been together for a very long time, especially their offensive system. Those guys know what they're doing. Drew Brees knows what he's doing. All those receivers, they really are productive; if they need to install their halfback choice to Alvin Kamara three times before training camp starts, I don't really think it's going to give them much of an advantage, so I understand where maybe they're coming from. Some teams are not in that same boat. We're only going on year two and we're going to need all the time we can get. We're going to do everything within the rules to use that time, and we'd be foolish not to for us at this point."
A lot of pundits have talked about who Burrow reminds them of. Who does he remind you of, and what is it about him that makes you feel that way, regarding players you've coached or seen before?
"He does remind me mentally of the guys that I've been around — I only reference them because I've been around them — and that's Peyton (Manning) and Matthew Stafford, (who) were two other very, very intelligent players. They know how to play the position. I see a lot of their makeup in Joe. Not to say I'm comparing him to either one of those two, but just as a guy who's going to come in and be a starting quarterback as a rookie, and the expectations are high. How those guys went about the business — I see a lot of similar things in Joe from the time that we spent with him.
"As far as comparing him to anybody (else) currently — and I've heard all the comparisons that are out there — it's hard to compare a guy sometimes because I don't want to put it on him fairly or unfairly, so I'm going to refrain from (doing that). But he has the makeup and the traits of a lot of the good quarterbacks that I've been around, for sure."
You said at the NFL Combine that you would be shocked if the three top quarterbacks made it out the top 10 and they went within the top six picks. How close are Burrow, the Miami Dolphins' choice in Tua Tagovailoa and the Los Angeles Chargers choice in Justin Herbert, or was there a big gap between them?
"No, those other two quarterbacks were extremely productive in their college systems and in their own rights. I thought highly of these three top quarterbacks, really from the time we started the evaluations. They were guys that I thought would play in this league for a long time, and I think that will hold up to be true. They're all different. They all possess traits that people like, but I think, at the end of the day, they're all going to be good NFL quarterbacks."
What can you say about what the selection of Burrow says or means to the status of current starting quarterback Andy Dalton?
"I'll leave most of the decision-making up to the people that make those decisions, (Head Coach) Zac (Taylor) and (Director of Player Personnel) Duke (Tobin) and (owner Mike) Brown. But just as a side note, I do have a ton of respect for Andy — for how he handled the situation last year. I still think he's a good NFL quarterback and the situation was unfortunate, and Andy took a lot of the blame as all quarterbacks tend to do. Fairly or unfairly, that's just how it goes in this league for quarterbacks, and he knows that. But his class in how he carries himself and what he means to this team and this organization — I don't think — will ever be able to be understated."
What are your thoughts on the talk that Burrow may not have the best arm strength for a NFL quarterback?
"There is a threshold. There's a baseline you have to meet to play (as an) NFL quarterback, and that's one that Joe certainly has exceeded. To answer the question when you evaluate a quarterback, there is a baseline. There are throws you have to show you can make. (With respect) to Joe, I don't worry about how much arm strength (he has). As long as you have enough to meet that threshold, the stuff that becomes more important in the NFL is the decision-making, the timing and the accuracy. Those are always the three things that we'll lean on when it comes to looking at successful quarterbacks because, if you can anticipate and you can throw on time, a lot of the arm strength debate can go out the window. I've never had a reservation about his arm strength at all."
Who are some of the more impressive wide receivers you've seen that could be available with your first pick tomorrow?
"Well, there's a lot of them. I don't want to take up all your time listing all the receivers, but there are some good players, and they all have some different places that fit (them). There are good inside players, there are good outside players, there are good ball carriers — guys that get the ball in their hands and play well, so we're sitting in a pretty good spot in that regard. This class is deep and it's talented, so if that's where we roll at (pick No.) 33, and there's a guy that we think is the best player there, they may be available for us."
Do you think the guys who could be in that position could come in and be immediate impact players?
"Yeah, I think the philosophy (is) if you're picking at 33, you're picking a starter. There are few (instances) where you take a guy there that you don't anticipate having an immediate impact. We're anticipating whoever that is on either side of the ball that they will come in and have an impact."
Could you put an estimate on the number of people you talked to vet Joe Burrow, and was there a particular story about him that stood out to you?
"I talked to a handful of people, and I know Zac reached out to some of the head coaches and stuff like that, (as) it's a little easier for him to do. I got a text from the new media personality that he's become, Dan Orlovsky, at one point early in the process. I asked him if, in his travels, he had come across him (Burrow) at all, just as a person — I had coached Dan for a year in Detroit, so I have a relationship with him — and he (Orlovsky) just more or less passed along the same things that everybody else has come to know about him. (He said) his whole package — his demeanor and how he approaches the game — he said, 'He's a stud.' Those are some of the things you hear from a lot of people, but from a guy who's played that position for a long time in the NFL and got a chance to talk to him and that I have a relationship with, I just thought that carried some weight for me ... a former NFL quarterback talking about a guy I was doing some research on."