+ If you were surprised that the Cincinnati Bengals hired Hue Jackson on Friday to become an assistant coach with the defensive backs and special teams, you're hardly alone. Jackson has limited (if any) experience as a defensive coach, much less as a defensive backs coach. The last time he was an assistant with special teams was 1991 with the defunct London Monarchs in the World League of American Football, which would eventually become NFL Europe (which is also now gone).
We get that Jackson is a personality and friend that Marvin Lewis likes to have on staff and we get that the job he signed up for was the only one available to him, despite the fact that Jackson is an offensive-minded coach.
But that's when it occurred to us.
Current Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden did much of the impossible. As a rookie offensive coordinator -- depending how you view his time in Tampa Bay with his older brother -- Gruden was tasked not only with integrating an entirely new offensive philosophy and system during the NFL lockout, but he was asked to do it with a rookie quarterback. Though the offense did struggle at times, both Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green were often in rookie of the year discussions.
Results as an offensive coordinator generated interest for vacant head coaching positions when the Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs this year. If he hadn't declined the opportunity, the Jacksonville Jaguars wouldn't have hired Mike Malarkey and the Bengals would be searching for a new offensive coordinator. Cincinnati eventually signed Gruden to a three-year extension, much like the deal they offered defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in 2010.
Interest in Gruden will likely resurface after this year, obviously depending on how the offense produces in 2012. Who is to say that vacant head coaching positions in 2012 won't include Gruden in discussions? With two years in the books and teams looking for personalities that can incorporate a young quarterback into an offense like he did with Dalton, Gruden may be comfortable enough to take a head coaching gig by this time next year.
Once that happens the Bengals have likely made their move for an eventual replacement at offensive coordinator. And his name is Hue Jackson.