Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 9, 2024

Callahan’s hires look promising

New Titans coach Brian Callahan has amassed an impressive list of assistant coaches, including his father, Bill Callahan, as offensive line coach. - Photo by George Walker IV | AP

As new Titans head coach Brian Callahan puts together his first staff, the early opinions have been extremely positive.

Callahan has gone outside the organization to people that he and Ran Carthon have history with to fill some of the first vacancies as he puts his inaugural staff together.

In one case, that history is mostly personal. The hire with the biggest splash to date is getting his father Bill Callahan released from his contract in Cleveland to become the Titans offensive line coach.

The elder Callahan is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in football and will be tasked with helping to revamp a Titans unit that has struggled for the past two years and especially in 2023 when Tennessee surrendered an embarrassing 64 sacks.

Almost certainly Callahan will get better play from whatever holdovers there might be. His presence and coaching techniques can only help young players like Peter Skoronski, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Dillon Radunz and Jaelyn Duncan.

But there also will need to be a massive upgrade in personnel. To borrow an analogy from another sport, even if you could hire the late great Ted Williams to be your hitting coach, he’s not going to make a batting champion out of Joey Gallo.

Coaches have to have something to work with, and that will be an area of focus for the draft and free agency, where they Titans hope they can find better players for the elder Callahan to work with.

Elsewhere, it appears Brian Callahan’s hires are getting notice and positive reviews from around the league. Outside of hiring his father, one of the other hires Titans fans seem to be excited about is defensive coordinator Dennard Williams. He was with the Rams at the same time Ran Carthon was learning the front office ropes there.

A veteran position coach whose time in the league goes back to former Titans coach Jeff Fisher and current Titans radio analyst Dave McGinnis, when both were with the Rams, Wilson has since coached the Baltimore Ravens secondary and the Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl last year.

Those are certainly two good defenses with solid personnel. His hire should indicate the Titans will take an aggressive approach to defense under Callahan.

Wilson, like Callahan, will be a first-time play caller. Having inexperience on both sides of the ball might be a concern, but each should be able to grow into the play-calling role if their philosophies are sound.

Wilson will have a couple of familiar faces on his side of the ball, as the Titans are reportedly bringing back Frank Bush for a third stint with the franchise to coach linebackers. Bush was last here on Mike Munchak’s staff about a decade ago.

Also returning is former Titans safety Steve Jackson, who played on the Super Bowl team in 1999 and also spent time here as a low-level assistant. He will coach the secondary for Wilson.

On the offensive side of the ball, Nick Holz has been tabbed to be the new offensive coordinator. He won’t call the plays, but he will be for Brian Callahan what Callahan was to Zac Taylor in Cincinnati. Holz has strong ties to the Callahan family, attending the same high school with Brian and getting his coaching start under Bill at the University of Nebraska.

Tyke Tolbert comes from the Chicago Bears to coach the Titans receivers. He has ties to Brian Callahan from their days in Denver.

There will be plenty of other spots that still have to be filled before Callahan completes his first staff. And ultimately how good they will be will be determined in large part why the players who are brought in for them to coach.

But at least in the interim, the moves have been enough to get the fan base excited again in the aftermath of the coaching change and wondering what path the franchise is headed.

These first few hires seem to have the Titans pointed in the right direction.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com