CINCINNATI -- Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson heard the speculation that he could be back with the Cincinnati Bengals after he was fired by Cleveland on Oct. 29, and he hoped there was something to it.
The talk became reality when Jackson was hired by Marvin Lewis as special assistant to the head coach Tuesday.
Jackson said he'd rather be around football than using his suddenly free schedule as a vacation.
"I was hoping that there would be something because, again as I said, I would want to be someplace that I respect everybody in the building and people who know me, know me personally," he said Wednesday. "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.'"
Jackson was once considered a potential successor to Lewis as coach of the Bengals, but he chose to take the Browns' coaching job instead. His tenure there ended in disaster after a 3-36-1 record. Still, he said he has no regrets.
"I think the experience in Cleveland was good. You know, regardless of what the record was, I mean, it was an opportunity and an experience and you can't get those back," Jackson said. "I think I'm a better coach for it, you know, having gone through it. But at the same time, you know, nobody wants to have that kind of record, you know. But I'm looking to being here, helping this organization win and getting this organization back to where it needs to be."
Lewis gave Jackson a call earlier this week after firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, clearly needing another pair of eyes now that Lewis will be calling the defense as well. Jackson jumped at the chance to come back to Cincinnati for a third time. Lewis made it clear that Jackson won't be involved with the offense, despite his former role as the Bengals' offensive coordinator.
That's still Bill Lazor's job, and while it might be uncomfortable to have the former and current offensive coordinator on staff together, Jackson implied that Lazor handled it just fine.
"Oh, yeah. He came over to my office and said hello," Jackson said. "I thought that was awesome of him. As I said to him, 'Anything I can do to assist, let me know.' But Bill's doing a good job. He'll get these guys going."
Lewis said Jackson will "assist with the players on the field defensively with the implementation and development of the game plan." He'll also work with analytics and be another coach on the sideline on game days.
"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," Lewis said.
Jackson said he's open to doing whatever the other coaches want. If that means helping out with the offense, he'd be happy to jump in if asked.
"Whatever this organization needs me to do. Whatever Marvin thinks I need to do to help him, to help him be the best version of himself. To help whether it's offensively, defensively or special teams, I'll do whatever they need me to do," he said. "Anything's included. If Bill wants to bounce an idea off me, then no doubt."
Jackson's only defensive background stems from the season the Bengals (5-4) brought him back as a secondary assistant to find him a role on the staff, so it's unusual that the defense would be his task instead of the offense. But he said he can approach it from a different lens than the defensive coaches.
"Obviously being on offense you know what you were trying to do to attack the defense," Jackson said. "I can kind of give some pointers here and there to the defensive coaches about what offensive teams are looking for. That can help from time to time, but sometimes it can be overkill, too. I'm sure our coaches will take the most that they can what will help and what won't help them they'll leave out."
He added: "I think it's a very talented team. Very talented team. Again, these things happen during the season where you get off track a little bit. But I think Marvin's doing a heck of a job with the staff first and foremost and with the team of getting everybody committed and let's block out the noise and play some good football."