One of the last decisions Marvin Lewis ever made as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals was hiring friend and former colleague Hue Jackson as his “special assistant”. In the weeks that Jackson was with the team, we never really got a clear explanation of Jackson’s role.
Perhaps it was similar to what Lewis’ new job is at Arizona State.
“[giggles] It’s like the help out coach,” Lewis joked on Adam Schefter’s latest podcast. “Where’s Marvin at today? Well he’s just helping out, you know we’ll try to find where he is.”
Lewis was recently hired as a special advisor on head coach Herm Edwards’ staff. It’s not surprising that he found his way back into coaching at some capacity so soon, and his new job should utilize his experience well.
“Nah Herman has asked me to really take time and evaluate everything they’re doing and really consult with him... how I did things what I liked, what I didn’t like,” Lewis explained more seriously. “...And then as we get to the season I’m gonna spend time evaluating the personnel... our opponents, present a report to the coaches... and help mentor the coaches.”
2019 will be Edwards’ second season at ASU, and Lewis had been in contact with him for as long as he’s been there about a potential position. It just so happened that Lewis was available a year later.
“Literally it began almost a year ago... Herman and I just talking. ...he was like ‘hey as long as I’m there and whenever you get done [with] what you’re doing and you want a place to come and do something you know, the door’s gonna be open.” Lewis said. “Then, after the season he reached out right away.”
A little over a month after he was fired, Lewis was sent to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona for his first game as an AAF analyst with NFL Network. The Arizona Hotshots defeated the Salt Lake Stallions 38-22 and the AAF, as well as Lewis’ position, last just seven more weeks. But it appeared his next job was already in the making at that very same venue.
The Bengals drafted just two Sun Devils in Lewis’ 16 years, but it was Vontaze Burfict that everyone knows. Burfict got the early word of Lewis working for his alma mater.
“He was excited. He’s known about this for about a month. ...he and his fiancé, they both went to school here... so I was glad to hear that. They were excited about it.”
The relationship between Lewis and Burfict was a special one, and now both are out of Cincinnati, with Lewis out of the league entirely. He isn’t complaining about it, though.
“It really hasn’t been.” Lewis answered when asked if it was strange to be out of the NFL. “... I haven’t missed it, I’ve been enjoying everything that I’ve had an opportunity to do. I’ve enjoyed working for the AAF until they pulled the carpet from underneath there — but it was fun. It was fun talking to coaches, it was fun being around the players. ...I was getting a chance to meet other people and do new things and people were very very helpful to me. ...This has been exciting, you know I just had to go through those other things and decide what made sense for the future.”
The future for Lewis likely doesn’t involve watching his former team, however.
“Well, I don’t think I’ll be watching the Bengals. Other than the fact that the players that are near and dear to my heart there — that’s it, you know, the players that I brought there but other than that, that’s my only interest in the Bengals and what they’re doing, is if the players are successful.”
A player’s coach through and through. When it comes to his expectations for Cincinnati, they’re about as unclear as his clock management.
“I really have no idea. I don’t. I expect Andy [Dalton] to have a great season because he’s a fine fine player and hopefully A.J. [Green]’s back and healthy and John Ross continues to grow and Tyler Boyd continues to grow, Joe Mixon, etc. So all those guys on offense can really do their thing.”
Lewis also said that he has not been in contact with his replacement Zac Taylor and isn’t thinking about jumping back into the NFL anytime soon. Who could blame him? His home in Arizona is closer to Sun Devil Stadium than his home in Cincinnati was to Paul Brown Stadium. His daughter and her family live there as well. The Arizona sunshine and dry heat probably doesn’t hurt, either.
This is a new chapter for Lewis and the Bengals, and it seems like both sides are getting off on the right foot.
“...it’s been fun. You know, I’ve been here now for three days because I really don’t start ‘til August but I’m just trying to get the lay of the land here and get started on some things.”