While the success of the field hasn’t always been a parallel, the Cincinnati Bengals have been widely considered one of the most loyal franchises in the National Football League. After all, not many coaches would be content with a coach like Marvin Lewis not winning a single playoff game for almost twenty years. With that trait has come the tendency for the team to hire from within whenever they lose a coach and that will likely be how the team fills the quarterbacks coach position this offseason.
Bengals to Announce their Decision on the Quarterbacks Coach Position this Week
Just a few weeks ago, Cincinnati was forced to fill their offensive coordinator position as their former coach Brian Callahan took the head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Callahan had been the offensive coordinator on one of the best offenses in the NFL and pretty much everyone knew that he would be leaving the team eventually to advance his own career and no one holds that against him. As the loyal franchise that Cincinnati is, they filled his position from within and promoted their quarterbacks coach of 7 years Dan Pitcher to the unit lead.
The real question now is who Cincinnati will hire to fill Pitcher’s old position as quarterbacks coach. The number one option (particularly from the trend being followed in Pitcher’s promotion) is to promote another coach from within. That coach would almost certainly be assistant quarterbacks coach Brad Kragthorpe.
Before becoming a coach, Kragthorpe played quarterback at fan favorite Joe Burrow’s alma mater LSU from 2013 to 2015. After that, he served as an offensive assistant with Utah State from 2016 to 2017 and then back to his alma mater in 2018. He was then hired to the staff in Cincinnati by head coach Zac Taylor in 2019 and has served in various assistant positional coach roles including wide receiver and quarterbacks. He will be a favorite for the job particularly because he already has a level of familiarity with Burrow and the Cincinnati offense.
While the team is heavily expected to hire Kragthorpe to fill the role, the franchise is at least doing their due diligence by interviewing a candidate from outside of the organization. On Saturday, Cincinnati brought in Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight ends coach John Van Dam for an interview for the vacant position. Van Dam has an extremely similar resume to Kragthorpe as he played quarterback at Michigan State University from 2006 to 2008. Van Dam then served in various collegiate positions including an offensive assistant job at the University of Alabama in 2012 and 2013 and the offensive coordinator job at Lafayette (PA) college in 2018.
Van Dam was hired by the Buccaneers in 2019 as a quality control coach and served in that role until he was promoted to be the tight ends coach in 2022. Tampa Bay has utilized a series of effective tight ends and Van Dam is highly respected amongst his peers.
There is a strong possibility that Van Dam was only brought in for team to compare and contrast the strengths of Kragthorpe as well as completing their own due diligence with the position. Whoever wins the position will become the new mentor to a franchise quarterback and may quickly become an offensive coordinator themselves.
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