Hue Jackson attacked his first press conference as Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator the same way he intends to go after opposing defenses – with a straight-forward, no-nonsense approach.
Jackson said his offense will be physical and committed to running the ball.
“In order to win and be a very good offensive football team, you have to be able to run the ball, and that’s going to be a starting point for us,” Jackson said. “You have to have something that you can lean on. My offense – I shouldn’t say ‘mine’ because it’s going to be our offense – starts with being physical.
“I just think that’s the way you play the game,” Jackson added. “Obviously the forward pass is important. We will throw it. We have too many talented players not to throw it. Please, don’t ever think we won’t. That’s not what I’m saying. But I think in order to establish who you are as an offensive football team, you have to be able to put your hand down and block the guy in front of you. You have to be able to attempt to run over the other team. If you can’t do that in this league, you have no chance of winning.”
The 48-year-old Jackson takes over for Jay Gruden, whom the Washington Redskins hired as their new head coach Thursday. That is something Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he envisioned when he brought Jackson on board as an assistant defensive backs coach in 2012 after Jackson had been fired following just one season as the head coach in Oakland.
“When we had the opportunity to add Hue to the staff here, we didn’t really have the fit that some people probably thought,” Lewis said. “It was the vision if this would happen, that we would have Hue here and have an opportunity … to continue the continuity of what we were doing and move forward quickly with that. I’m excited for that.”
Jackson has been an NFL coach for 13 seasons, including stints as offensive coordinator in Washington (2003), Atlanta (2007) and Oakland (2010). He also was with the Bengals as wide receivers coach from 2004-06.
His only experience on the defensive side of the ball was in 2012, and he said it changed the way he looked at the game and will make him a better coordinator.
“Honestly, it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Jackson said. “I think that experience was invaluable. I don’t think as a coach you ever get that chance to go on the other side and be there for a whole season, coaching defense and really understanding what defenses are trying to do to offenses. I knew how to attack them being on offense, but I didn’t know everything that went in to putting a defensive plan together, how they really saw an offense, how they went about trying to attack an offensive football team. Obviously it’s going to make me a better coach.”
Jackson also said he stands solidly behind quarterback Andy Dalton and believes he is the guy who can get the offense where it needs to be, both in the regular season and the postseason.
“This young man has it,” Jackson said. “What we have to do is make sure that we’re helping him to get it done at the level that we all want. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get him playing at a high level. Whether that’s giving him less, whether that’s giving him more, or whatever it takes. That’s what my charge is as I look to the future with him.”
Asked if he thinks the Bengals need to take a quarterback high in the draft to push Dalton, Jackson quickly fired back, “I’m going to be the guy that pushes Andy. And I think Andy will push himself. I think Andy is made of the right stuff, and now we can see if we can get him where we want him to be.”
The Bengals also announced that Kyle Caskey will replace Jackson as running backs coach.
Caskey, 35, has been on the staff for four seasons, including the last two as as assistant offensive line and offensive quality control coach.
“I’ve worked my way up for this,” said Caskey. “Marvin has been really open with me about if the opportunity came, are you going to be ready? He knew I was going to be ready. I knew I was going to be ready. I think everybody else, coach Jackson knows I’m ready.”