At first glance, Cincinnati's hiring of Hue Jackson is puzzling. Jackson has served as an offensive coach his entire career, but was hired by Cincinnati as an assistant coach of the defensive secondary and special teams. Bringing Jackson back to Cincinnati makes sense, especially after he so graciously handed us Oakland's first round draft pick, but why as a defensive assistant? Why bring in a coach for a position he has no experience with?
Jay Gruden has only been an NFL offensive coordinator for one season, but what a season it was. 2011 easily could have been a complete disaster. With only four wins the year prior and a prophesy for failure by Cincinnati's own Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati started the season with a new system and plenty of new faces, including a rookie quarterback, but the offense orchestrated by Gruden surprised everyone by winning 9 games and clinching a playoff berth. Gruden's success justifiably earned him head coaching consideration this off-season, and while he was not hired after 2011, it is highly probable he is hired after 2012.
Hence, the Hue Jackson hire.
Dan Pompeii reiterated the idea that Cincy Jungle's Josh Kirkendall proposed last week. Pompeii says the following:
Hue Jackson is supposed to be an assistant defensive backs and special teams coach with the Bengals, but what he really is, according to those who should know, is the team's offensive coordinator in waiting. Jackson is insurance in case Jay Gruden lands a head coaching job next year. Gruden was a head coaching commodity this year after only one year as a coordinator. The Colts in particular were very interested in hiring him. Gruden wanted to give it another year before making the jump.
This scenario is surely conceivable, and if true, the Hue Jackson hire is a great move by the Bengals. Locking down Jackson, who was a fan favorite in his previous stint with Cincinnati, guarantees the services of a terrific offensive mind if and when Gruden bolts for a head coaching job. Also, the offensive coordinator hire will now come from inside the organization, which will work to avoid the possible transition issues that come along with a new coach.
Fan favorite, great offensive mind, in house hire--if the theory holds true, the Bengals really out did themselves with this one.