Damarious Randall gives football to Hue Jackson after interception as Browns build big lead on Bengals

After enduring two-and-a-half seasons of Hue Jackson, the Browns have unofficially passed the torch to the Bengals.

On Sunday morning, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Bengals are considering promoting special assistant Hue Jackson, who got fired by the Browns last month, to replace Marvin Lewis as head coach. The timing of La Canfora's report was perfect. A few hours later, the Browns and Bengals faced each other in Cincinnati. Sure enough, the Browns -- free from Jackson's reign -- proceeded to race out to a 28-7 lead at halftime with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield continuing to look like a superstar quarterback in Freddie Kitchens' offense. 

In the process of the blowout, the Browns passed the torch to the Bengals with an unofficial ceremony. After picking off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's wildly overthrown pass in the second quarter, Browns safety Damarious Randall looked up, spotted Jackson standing there on the sideline, and handed him the football. Jackson accepted the football and patted Randall on the head as if he was still his player.

You couldn't have scripted a more perfect moment than this, one that so perfectly encapsulates the situation:

With the Browns, Jackson went 3-36-1. The Bengals appear to be heading toward an 0-2 record with Jackson as a member of their staff. The Bengals were already beginning to stumble prior to Jackson's arrival, so it's not like Jackson is the cause of their demise. But what's particularly damning is how effective Mayfield has been since Jackson departed Cleveland. 

Under Jackson's command for six games, Mayfield completed 58.3 percent of his passes, averaged 245.2 passing yards per game, threw eight picks and six touchdowns, accumulated a 78.9 passer rating, and was sacked 20 times. In his first two games with Kitchens -- the Browns' new offensive coordinator -- Mayfield completed 74.2 percent of his passes, averaged 256.5 passing yards per game, threw five touchdowns and one pick, posted a 118.5 passer rating, and was sacked twice. Halfway through his third game (against the Bengals) with a new staff, he's 17 of 22 for 245 yards, three touchdowns, no picks, and a 152.5 passer rating. 

Suddenly, the Browns no longer look like the worst team in the AFC North. 

And to think, as they watch a live demonstration of how much better the Browns are without him, the Bengals' decision-makers are considering handing their team over to Jackson. As La Canfora reported:

Lewis and Jackson are very close and Jackson is very well thought of within the Bengals organization from his prior stints there. He is a favorite of Bengals owner Mike Brown, who tends to do things his own way, especially when it comes to coaching hiring and firings, and it would not be a surprise at all if this transition were to take place in 2019.

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Brown almost always hires from within the Bengals family of former coaches and players, and Jackson has already coached numerous position groups on both sides of the ball and served as a play caller for quarterback Andy Dalton. He knows the veteran players already, by and large, and Brown is comfortable with him. He has coached extensively within the AFC North (with stints at Cleveland and Baltimore in various capacities), and Brown generally is not prone to exhaustive and extensive coaching searches, preferring those he is already familiar with. 

Again, Jackson isn't the reason why the Bengals are bad enough to be losing to the Browns by 21 points at halftime. He's a special assistant. There's only so much he can do to help and hurt the team. 

But his dismissal remains a big reason why the Browns are suddenly good enough to go on the road and beat up on a team by multiple scores. And that alone should be enough of a reason for the Bengals to pass on elevating Jackson to head coach. 

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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