This was originally published in The Athletic.
I know I’m painting with an Andrew Billings-sized brush here, but man, Bengals fans have a weird thing for Hue Jackson, don’t they?
I mean, yes, by all accounts Hue did fine work here, including two seasons as a successful offensive coordinator before leaving to
captain a rudderless ship coach the Browns in 2016.
But let’s be real, if we told the story of recent Bengals history, Jackson’s contributions to the club would warrant a footnote more than entire chapter. He was a valuable assistant, but when he bolted for Cleveland, I didn’t quite feel like this was the 20th Century version of Paul Brown passing on Bill Walsh, either. I didn’t totally get the infatuation with Jackson then, and after two and a half years of watching him become northeast Ohio’s version of Tiger Johnson, I’m a little puzzled by the infatuation Bengals and fans – and maybe, the people running the Bengals themselves – have with Hue now.
It’s an infatuation that kicked into hyper-drive yesterday when the Browns fired Hue, a mercy killing that was equal parts overdue and unjust. Overdue because the writing seemed on the wall when John Dorsey became Cleveland’s GM after last season’s 0-16 debacle, and unjust because Hue never really had a fair chance to be completely judged by wins and losses. Maybe no other coach would’ve had a winless season up there, but no human being alive would’ve managed a winning season either. His dismissal, though, has many speculating that he’ll come crawling back again to work for the Bengals.
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.