Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is clearly in demand.
The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns met with Jackson on Sunday and the overall belief is that he's a lock for the 49ers head coaching vacancy -- according to Mike Silver with the NFL Media, no offers have been made but both interviews went well. The New York Giants are expected to request an interview on Monday. The Miami Dolphins originally scheduled an interview with Jackson, but cancelled after deciding on former Broncos and Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Regardless, it would seem like a massive upset if Jackson returns to Cincinnati in 2016 (NOTE: We've said the same thing during several offseasons about Mike Zimmer before Minnesota scooped him up).
If Cincinnati decides on an in-house promotion for their next offensive coordinator, there are a few options:
RB coach Kyle Caskey. Caskey, who replaced Jackson when the latter was promoted as the team's offensive coordinator, concluded his sixth season with the Bengals this season. Having worked directly under Jay Gruden, and then Jackson, who kept many of Gruden's concepts and schemes, Caskey presents stability due to the limited need for change. During the entirety of his Cincinnati career, Caskey has trained/groomed under Gruden and Jackson, helping to keep Andy Dalton's development on course.
During his first season as the team's running backs coach, the offense finished sixth in the league with an average of 134.2 yards rushing per game; the team's best rushing performance dating back to 2000. Despite scoring 18 rushing touchdowns this season, the rushing offense took a slight step backwards, finishing 13th in the league with an average of 112.8 yards rushing per game.
WR coach James Urban. Much like Caskey, Urban, who joined the team in 2011, has experience working under the system implemented by Gruden and enhanced by Jackson. Urban has a relationship with the major offensive players, the scheme, concepts and terminology. Not much would need to change. Urban has coached five-time pro bowler A.J. Green, setting franchise and league records, during each of his five seasons.
Prior to joining the Bengals, Urban spent seven seasons under Andy Reid in Philadelphia as an assistant head coach, quarterbacks coach and was set to become an assistant offensive coordinator when he changed course and joined the Bengals on Feb. 21, 2011.
QB coach Ken Zampese. From the firing of Bob Bratkowski and Gruden's departure, Zampese's name usually surfaces as an internal candidate from external observers (fans and media), but has never been seriously considered as an offensive coordinator. Zampese, one of Marvin Lewis' original hires from '03, has coached Jon Kitna, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and backup quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and AJ McCarron.
Two things are working against Zampese as a possible hire: 1) He hasn't been seriously considered for the offensive coordinator position during any of the team's vacancies and 2) Is rarely mentioned by other teams looking for an offensive coordinator.
No One Within. There's also real possibility Cincinnati expands their offensive coordinator search outside of the organization, especially if they feel that Caskey and Urban aren't ready. There is historical precedence. They yanked Gruden from the Arena Football League in 2011.