Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson going to work for friend Marvin Lewis

CINCINNATI — Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is returning to the Bengals coaching staff this week for a third stint in Cincinnati, having been named special assistant to the head coach.

“I have a great comfort level with Hue and his ability to assist me with the day-to-day responsibilities on defense, including analyzing our opponents and helping me on game days with the players and defensive coaches,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement.

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday after a 51-14 blowout loss to the Saints, and Lewis took over defensive play calling. As an offensive mind, Jackson can take up some slack on that side of the ball.

“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to join the Bengals this season,” Jackson said in a statement. “There is a lot of talent on this team, and I look forward to doing my part to help it finish strong this season.”

With the 5-4 Bengals playing for their playoff lives, it also doesn’t hurt that Cincinnati plays Cleveland twice still this season. They play in Cincinnati on Nov. 25 and in Cleveland on Dec. 23.

Browns cornerback Damarious Randall got a kick out of that fact.

When asked Monday how he would handle the additional defensive play-calling duties, Lewis smiled and said, “I’ve got a plan.”

Asked about Jackson joining the staff, Lewis laughed and said: “Watch and see.”

It’s no secret that Jackson and Lewis have a fondness for each other that dates back many years. Jackson has called Lewis his best friend, and Lewis has referred to him as the brother he never had.

Jackson was the Bengals’ wide receivers coach from 2004 to ’06, secondary assistant and special-teams coach in 2012, running backs coach in 2013 and offensive coordinator from 2014 to ’15.

The two men talk almost every week on the phone and often speak glowingly of each other, which is why it was speculated that Jackson could end up in Cincinnati again after he was fired in Cleveland on Oct. 29. But a Bengals source said early after the firing that bringing Jackson back wasn’t on the immediate radar, and Lewis declined to answer any questions in a news conference shortly after the move was announced.

“I’m not going to make a headline,” he said at the time.

Things appeared to have changed this week after Austin’s departure and Lewis took on additional duties. It wouldn’t be the first time Lewis brought him back.

Lewis found Jackson a place on the staff after Jackson was fired after just one season in Oakland in 2011, and Jackson came close to being head-coach-in-waiting in Cincinnati.

Both men proposed a succession plan to Bengals’ ownership that would have Jackson taking over after Lewis stepped down, but Jackson ultimately went to Cleveland instead and went 3-36-1 before he was fired.

The length and details of Jackson’s contract in Cincinnati have not been disclosed.

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