Broncos’ coaching search moves along with Kevin O’Connell, Brian Calla…
Broncos general manager George Paton and team executives checked another time zone off their traveling box Thursday, heading to Los Angeles to interview Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell after conducting a virtual meeting with Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
Since Jan. 13, Paton and Co. have flown from Denver to Detroit to Green Bay to Denver to Dallas to Providence, R.I., to Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
Callahan and O’Connell were the eighth and ninth candidates interviewed by the Broncos. Next up is Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Friday.
Like Green Bay assistants Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy, who were interviewed last week, Callahan and O’Connell are non-play calling coordinators.
Callahan, 37, was up first, two days before Cincinnati plays its first AFC Divisional playoff game in 31 years when it visits top-seeded Tennessee.
A Broncos assistant from 2010-15, Callahan moved on to coach quarterbacks in Detroit (2016-17) and Oakland (2018) before coach Zac Taylor hired him as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in ’19.
The Bengals have improved from two to 10 wins over three years and from 29th to 13th in scoring this year.
Callahan told reporters this week it has been “really easy,” to keep his attention toward the Titans game.
“My focus is 100% on this game and to our players; there is no other focus for me,” he said. “Anything I do outside of that framework, it’s on my own time late at night (or) early in the morning. These (interviews) are things you slowly prepare for over time and you get a chance to collect your thoughts.
“All of these things are personal accolades and it’s because the team has had success and you get individual assistance from the collective success and that’s certainly where I’m at right now. It’s an honor to be involved in a course of action like (the Broncos’).”
Callahan is the son of Bill Callahan, before the head coach of the Raiders (reaching the Super Bowl after the 2002 season) and Nebraska and currently the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line coach.
Before joining the Broncos in 2010, Brian Callahan worked as a graduate assistant at UCLA and two years as a California high school coach. In five years, he had three titles with the Broncos: Coaching assistant (2010), offensive quality control coach (2011-12) and offensive assistant (2013-15). After the February 2016 Super Bowl win, he departed for Detroit to work with offensive coordinator and former Broncos assistant Jim Bob Cooter.
With the Raiders, Callahan coached quarterback Derek Carr, who passed for 4,049 yards, the first of a streak of four consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.
This year for the Bengals, quarterback Joe Burrow finished with 4,611 yards (sixth in the league), 34 touchdowns (eighth) and a 108.3 passer rating (second).
O’Connell, 36, played 40 games at quarterback for San Diego State and was a third-round draft pick by New England (No. 94 overall); in the first round, the Patriots chosen Jerod Mayo, who interviewed with the Broncos on Wednesday.
O’Connell later spent time with Detroit (when current Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was a rookie for the Lions), Miami and the Jets and Chargers. He appeared in two regular season games.
O’Connell started his coaching career in Cleveland (2015), followed by San Francisco (one year) and Washington (three years, including the offensive coordinator in ’19). He joined the Rams last year.
The Rams traded for Stafford, who won his first career playoff game Monday over Arizona. The Rams play at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“(O’Connell’s) ability to stay cool — he’s the guy I’m talking to the majority of the time on game day and throughout the week and on the practice field,” Stafford told reporters Wednesday. “He’s done an unbelievable job helping me get into this offense. I wouldn’t be here playing in the Divisional Round if it wasn’t for a guy like that spending a bunch of time with me and helping me out.”
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