According to reports, the Pittsburg Steelers have interviewed former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson for the same position. Jackson, the former Marvin Lewis disciple, has been out of the league since 2018 after his second head coaching failure with the Cleveland Browns.
Don’t let that fact fool you, however. Head coaching material or not, Jackson is a bright offensive mind. Look no further than the work he did with the Bengals as proof. He orchestrated one of Cincinnati’s best offensive seasons back in 2015.
At the helm of the offense, he had Andy Dalton and co. averaging a respectable 26.2 points per game, tied for the sixth-highest in the league that year. Their production was enough to lead them to a 12-4 record and divisional title.
Further speaking to Jackson’s ability is the production he got out of the players at his disposal. In the same 2015 campaign, he had Dalton in MVP consideration at one point, ensured A.J. Green pieced together one of the best seasons of his career, and got Tyler Eifert a whopping 13 touchdown catches along with a Pro Bowl nod.
If the passing game isn’t enough to prove Jackson’s ability as an offensive coordinator, the run game he produced should be. Jeremy Hill, a guy that would soon be out of the league, looked like a superstar, rushing for double-digit touchdowns that year.
In other words, Jackson has proven, at least once, that he’s able to get the absolute most out of his players. Obviously, that’s a less than ideal attribute for a bitter divisional foe to acquire.
Steelers could over-perform with Hue Jackson on board
If the Bengals are going to claw their way out of the AFC North cellar, they’re certainly going to have their work cut out for them. The Baltimore Ravens look as strong as ever and the Cleveland Browns appear to just be getting started with their ascension.
That leaves the Steelers as the most likely team for the Bengals to surpass next season. Pittsburg has an expensive and aging quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, a slew of contributors set to hit free agency, and a massive salary cap problem.
As things stand, the Steelers are heading for an offensive down year that Zac Taylor, Joe Burrow, and the rest of the team could certainly take advantage of to gain a foothold within the division. With Jackson’s ability to get the most out of players and creative red zone play-calling though, Pittsburg could out-perform expectations.
After all, the Steelers do possess receivers like Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. The duo has already shown flashes, but as previously mentioned, Jackson is as good of a bet as anybody to get them to play even better than they’ve already proven capable of.
That would be devastating for a Bengals franchise that is in the middle of a re-build in the most difficult division in the NFL.