Head coach Marvin Lewis was as giddy as you’ll ever see him when he answered questions about Hue Jackson possibly joining the staff on Monday. Cut to Thursday, and it seems Jackson was hoping this was where he’d land after the Browns fired him from his role as head coach a few weeks ago.
“I was hoping that there would be something,” Jackson said via Bengals.com when he was asked about how ideal this situation was for him after leaving Cleveland. “As I said, I would want to be some place that I respect everybody in the building and people who know me, know me personally. This is a tremendous opportunity for me, and I’m just thankful that they said, ‘you come on home. This is an opportunity for you to come and help and let’s go.’”
It is honestly rare for a situation to fit together so perfectly. Obviously, Jackson knows the team well after spending several years as a positional coach and then offensive coordinator for the Bengals before leaving to take the head coaching job in Cleveland. Several players like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were coached by Jackson, and plenty more young guys could use some good ol’ Jackson cheer to help pump them up.
Jackson’s role as far as coaching is a little more broad, but it is clear he isn’t coming to Cincinnati to intimidate the other coaches.
“I respect the job that the other coaches are doing here. As I said If I can help them I’m here to help. If they don’t need the help I get that, too,” Jackson said.
He also added that he’ll do “anything” he can “to help and assist” the team.
It really feels like Lewis hasn’t designated Jackson to fix any specific area of the team, which makes sense. At this point Jackson is an extra set of hands — and eyes — that is there mostly to help Lewis keep things from falling through the cracks as he focuses on the defensive side of the ball. It can be helpful just to have an outside perspective come in and take a look at some things. Analytics and trends around the league will be other things Jackson works on to help the Bengals reach their goal this year, which Lewis said this week is winning the Super Bowl.
It is clear Lewis and Jackson don’t want any of the other coaches to feel like Jackson was brought in to take their job at some point, which is honestly important to ensure at this point in the season.
There isn’t too much Jackson would be able to do to change the offense in the middle of the season even if he wanted to. It is similar to when Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator last season. The playbook was in place. The most Lazor could do was try and call better plays and very slowly incorporate some new ideas; and he took over after Week 2. Week 11 isn’t the time for a monstrous change to the whole team.
It remains to be seen exactly what Jackson will be doing on game day, but odds are it will involve taking some of the typical head coaching duties like time management and challenges. Lewis will need that help while he focuses on his defensive coordinator duties.
“It’s good to have him here. He’s an asset, and he’s definitely going to help out, especially with what Marvin is going to be doing with the defense now,” Andy Dalton said this week. “He’s another place of communication with everything going on, on the sidelines. We’ll see how it goes, but I don’t see there being any kind of issue with it.”
Lewis added some additional clarity as to what Jackson will be doing, too.
“Hue right now is here to get immersed into what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. He’ll add (insight) for me from things he sees, and he’ll assist with the players on the field defensively with the implementation and development of the game plan,” Lewis said. “He’ll continue to look at things analytically, as he’s had more exposure to that than I have. It’ll be helpful because we have the data, and we need to continue to learn how to use it correctly. He’s been involved in that quite a bit, so that’s another added plus exposure to things.”
One thing is for sure, you can tell by the way Jackson spoke on Wednesday that he is more than happy to be back in Cincinnati.