You don’t often see a head coach invest a first-overall pick in a player only for beef to form between the two of them months afterwards.
When the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin after Week 10, they decided to bring back Hue Jackson for his third stint with Cincinnati just a few days later. The former Browns’ head coach was fresh off the unemployment line after winning just four games in two-and-a-half seasons with the franchise that is 5-2 since his termination. This meant that Jackson would get two more chances to play against his former team in 2018.
It also meant that Baker Mayfield could air out his fresh beef two more times in 2018.
The I-71 rivalry started off with a Browns win and an awkward interaction between Jackson and Mayfield.
After their Week 12 matchup, Jackson went to give Mayfield a hug. Mayfield clearly tried to avoid Jackson, but Jackson did not relent and eventually drew a handshake out of his former quarterback.
Hue goes for the hug, Baker shuts him down. pic.twitter.com/ssNmePPksM— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 25, 2018
Mayfield gave a strange response, saying Jackson “was in our locker room for asking us to play for him and goes to another team we play twice a year.”
Never mind the fact that Jackson was let go involuntarily and only chose the Bengals over unemployment, Mayfield clearly did not care for his former head coach and successfully rallied his team around a common adversary.
He made his feelings even more clear during their Week 16 matchup, which would end in another victory for the Browns.
Despite leading for most of the game, the Browns saw their point differential quickly diminishing during the closing minutes of the game. The Browns sealed it with a 66-yard pass to David Njoku right before the two-minute warning against a defense with no timeouts remaining.
On the long walk to the other side of the field, Mayfield made a brief detour to the Bengals sideline, where he had a staring contest with Jackson.
@LanceMcAlister @Kat_Terrell @pauldehnerjr pic.twitter.com/i3yCfLr2Es— Todd Daniel (@TJDaniel70) December 23, 2018
There was also this interesting tweet from Bengals reporter Chick Ludwig after the game:
Listening to Tim McGee on @700wlw. "I know for a fact Hue (Jackson) is the reason Baker Mayfield is in Cleveland. He fought hard to draft him. Baker Mayfield was not management's No. 1 choice. They wanted (Sajuon)... https://t.co/46rciwgpR1— Chick Ludwig (@ChickLudwig) December 23, 2018
Regardless, Mayfield and the Browns have thrived in the absence of Hue Jackson, and Mayfield is having fun with him now. All eyes will be on these two every time they are on opposite sidelines, how ever longer Jackson is still in the league.