The Hue Effect: Cleveland Browns get better, Bengals get worse

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns and head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals hug after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns and head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals hug after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images) /

The former Cleveland Browns coach has made an immediate impact upon the Bengals in his new role of special assistant head coach, but not in a good way

Cleveland Browns former head coach Hue Jackson’s has made an immediate impact upon Cincinnati Bengals in his new role of special assistant head coach, but not the type of impact that the Bengals were hoping for.

The Browns took their cross-state rivals behind the woodshed and beat them badly, 35-20, in a game that was not nearly as close as the score suggests. This followed an ugly loss on November 18 to the Baltimore Ravens, even though it was the first start for talented but inexperienced rookie Lamar Jackson. In that game, Baltimore ran all over the Bengals, giving up 403 yards of offense including 267 yards on the ground.

Nevertheless, the buzz among Cincinnati fans and the media is that Hue Jackson might be in line to replace Marvin Lewis if Marvin retires or moves to the front office. Former Browns general manager Joe Banner, referring specifically to a tweet from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports on the possible Hue/Marvin switch, offered the following reply:

One might question why the Bengals took him back. Hue originally jumped to the Browns from the Bengals in 2016. Normally, to leave an organization on good terms, the coach should accept a position from a team outside the division if not the conference.

For example, in the case of the Patriots, Josh McDaniels jumped from New England to Denver but was allowed back. Similarly, Romeo Crennel jumped to become the head coach of the Browns, but Belichick took him back also.

However, Eric Mangini jumped from New England to the hated New York Jets, and by all accounts, Bill Belichick is still mad. Belichick himself jumped ship from the Jets to become Head Coach of the Patriots. Those bridges were effectively burned. But okay, you get the point. It’s considered unethical to go to work for a Division Rival unless you were fired by your previous team or if some sort of bad blood exists.

Related Story. Cleveland Browns Week 12 Instant Reactions. light

Thus it is understandable Jackson wanted revenge on the Browns after getting fired by them. The really odd thing is that the Bengals took him back after he abandoned them. Lewis did not fire Jackson, Hue left on his own and went to division rival Cleveland. Why would they want to take back a guy who essentially betrayed them?

The obvious conjecture is that Lewis hopes to obtain greater insight into the Browns playbook via the vengeful Jackson, thereby gaining an advantage in two games down the stretch. That is tacky behavior but does not violate any league rules.

The Browns players were not impressed by coach Jackson’s antics. Fans got a good laugh when Damarious Randall, nonchalantly flipped Hue the ball after making an interception on Andy Dalton.

Baker Mayfield snubbed his former Coach after the game. Hue was anxious to give hugs, but Mayfield wouldn’t have it. At the post-game press conference, he explained,

"“I didn’t feel like talking. I don’t know, He left Cleveland and goes down to Cincinnati. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room asking for us to play for him, and then goes to a different team we play twice a year. Everyone can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel. It’s just like any rivalry game. That’s how it is now. That’s how I’m going to treat it every time we play them, and I think that’s how our team should treat it too.” — Mayfield in his press conference"

ESPN’s Skip Bayless tweeted during the game:

"“I love what Baker Mayfield is doing to Hue Jackson. 245 yards passing at the half. Up 28-7. Baker is getting even after Hue treated him with little to no respect. Baker had no use for Hue.” — Bayless on Twitter"

For their part, the Bengals players seem to be reeling from shock. In Jackson’s first two games, they have lost twice, while giving up 59 points and scoring only 41. For the year, their points differential is now -71, or more than twice as high as the Browns at -30. For the season they have now given up a gaudy 347 points, which is the absolute worst in the NFL at this point. The Bengals are clearly trending downward, and the Browns are trending upward. The two teams will play again December 23rd in Cleveland.

What about the Bengals players? How do they feel about bringing aboard a 3-36-1 coach, and having him attempt to show up his former players? The negative karma is obvious. Bengals management is in effect telling the players that the team must stoop low in order to win against the Browns.

In effect, they are willing to hire a coach with a historically losing record. The rumor that Jackson will become the new head coach as early as next year, is frightening to players who want to win. Would Hue’s losing ways will carry over to the Bengals?

This has to be an awful move for the morale of the organization, and it will very likely spur an exodus of players out of Cincinnati, just as was the case in Cleveland the past two years plus. Talented players want to go elsewhere and will take less money to avoid coach Jackson.

Former Browns great Earnest Byner is skeptical about Hue’s role helping the Bengals defense, judging by his Tweet:

This move by the Bengals has delighted Cleveland fans who have great faith in the ability of the ex-coach to bring additional losses to their rival.

It is probably one of the worst moves that the Bengals have made in recent memory. Unless they unexpectedly go on a winning streak, it may well lead to the demise of both Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson in Cincinnati.

Next. Mayfield doesn’t hold back on Hue Jackson. dark

Meanwhile, the old cliché, that firing the coach doesn’t really help, is incorrect. The Browns really are better off without their former coach and the Bengals really did damage their organization by making this unusual hire.