Browns not worried about any intel Hue Jackson might share with Bengals

Players react to former head coach joining division rival weeks after firing

Daryl Ruiter
November 21, 2018 - 4:13 pm
Cincinnati Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson reacts to a call in the first quarter of an NFL football game,Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Kareem Elgazzar-Cincinnati Enquirer/USA Today images

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns don’t seem the least bit concerned that former head coach Hue Jackson will be on the Bengals sideline Sunday in Cincinnati.

“It's nice to have him here,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said via conference call Wednesday.

Lewis didn’t want to talk about adding Jackson so quickly after the Browns fired him, or the impact Jackson could have on Sunday’s game.

“Hue is not playing any snaps,” Lewis said. “We're playing the Browns.”

This is true. And those Browns don’t seem too worried about whatever knowledge Jackson has taken with him to Cincinnati.

“The game is on 11-on-11 up on the field and I don't feel like them having him over there is going to give them no type of edge,” safety Damarious Randall said.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield had just one word when he was asked if Jackson gives them an edge.

“No,” Mayfield responded.

Why not?

“Just….no,” Mayfield said.

That doesn’t mean that the top pick in the draft might not be looking forward to the reunion on the Ohio river. They’ll meet again Dec. 23 in Cleveland.

“I’m excited,” Mayfield said. “Anytime you get to play somebody you’re familiar with, that’s always fun. Whether it’s former teammates, coaches, people in college recruiting-wise or that you met through campus, stuff like that. It’s always fun.”

After being fired along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Oct. 29 following a 33-18 loss at Pittsburgh, Jackson joined Lewis’ staff just two weeks later on Nov. 12.

"It will feel a little awkward, but I'm very happy for coach Jackson," cornerback T.J. Carrie said. 

Receiver Rashard Higgins remains appreciative of Jackson because of the way the former head coach handled him being cut Sept 3, 2017 and the advice he received. Higgins was brought back to the practice squad two days later before he was elevated back to the active 53 10 days after that.

“It made me realize this is a business at the end of the day,” Higgins said.

“He taught me a lot. We text, but I do keep in touch with him.”

Higgins has spoken with Jackson since his firing and is looking forward to Sunday.

“There’s a lot of feelings involved but at the end of the day we gotta go out and play our Game,” Higgins said.

Mayfield admitted a little surprise that Jackson, who went 3-36-1 in two and a half seasons in Cleveland, took a job in season.

“It’s a quick turnaround,” Mayfield said. “For him to go down south, it’s a little different.”

Jackson vs. the Browns adds just a little more spice to the Battle of Ohio. 

“I am sure that it will.” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “It is funny, we really do not talk about it that much in the locker room. Not too many people are bringing it up, but it is a great story for ESPN and everybody who wants to talk about it. He coached there before, he came here and coached and now he is coaching back over there. He has some moments on both sidelines. It was a pretty quick turnaround for him to be back over there, but I think it is just a small part of it. For us players, we have to play against each other. Players have to play out there.”

Jackson’s replacement, interim head coach Gregg Williams, isn’t too worried about Jackson giving Cincinnati an upper hand on him or his team this week. Williams has no plans to change play-calls or audibles in time for Sunday’s game.

“There is nothing private in our world anymore,” Williams said. “Every single clip of film is out there for everybody to watch. It is about execution. We have to go and execute. Even in practices, our guys know what the guys on the other side of the ball are going to be doing, but they get out-executed at times.”

Bitonio has seen quite a lot since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Browns, but the last few weeks following Jackson’s firing and subsequent new job have been different, to say the least.

“I’m sure he knows some stuff, you know, I’m sure we know some stuff,” Bitonio said. “Players go to other teams, practice squad guys come from teams. There’s so much information passing through the hallways of NFL buildings anyway that if they want to worry about trying to know our play calls or something like that, there’s something they’re not focusing on for the week of preparation.

“We’re going to run what we run, how we call it, and try and do the best job possible.”

While Jackson might have knowledge of certain player tendencies, they’re not exactly state secrets. To borrow from Jackson’s coaching cliché book, all you have to do is just watch the tape.

“I think the film also tells that,” Bitonio said. “He might have a better understanding but if you watch a guy play for 10 games and he has 800 snaps on film or 600 or whatever it is, they’re going to know the strengths or weaknesses are. He might know a little bit more personally, but I think it’s out there.

“They’re going to know if this guy can’t handle the bull-rush or this guy struggles going one way or the other. I think they’re going to know.”