A 3-36-1 record as the Browns' coach apparently wasn't enough to kill Hue Jackson's job opportunities. It turns out, it might not just be the Bengals who are interested in Jackson for the 2019 season. The Vikings might want him too.
According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Jackson could reunite with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota as the Vikings face the possibility of losing interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Say what you will about Hugh Jackson but the man has options. He's a candidate for HC with the Bengals and could stay there as OC. Wiith Kevin Stefanski out of contract w/ Vikings and pursuing HC and OC options, I'm told Jackson reuniting with Mike Zimmer in Minnesota is possible— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 2, 2019
Zimmer and Jackson were, of course, on the same staff in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis. Before becoming the Vikings coach in 2014, Zimmer served as the Bengals' defensive coordinator from 2008-13. Before Jackson went to the Browns, he worked on the Bengals' coaching staff from 2012-15. It's where Jackson did some of his best work. Under Jackson in 2015, the Bengals' offense ranked seventh in scoring and Andy Dalton experienced the best season of his otherwise pedestrian career.
Then again, given how poorly Jackson's time in Cleveland went, it's safe to assume most Vikings fans won't exactly start a petition for the team to hire him. Again: He went 3-36-1 in two-and-a-half seasons. After he got fired,before After he got fired, the Browns finished the season with a 5-3 record.
But Jackson seemingly has a fan in Zimmer. Last year, Jackson revealed how close the two coaches have remained since their days together in Cincinnati.
"There's a group of men that I kind of lean on, and Mike being one of them," he said, per ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "There is a lot of sometimes 4 in the morning calls or midnight calls that we kind of go through things and it keeps me from jumping off the ledge. He's been spectacular that way of having me truly understand that sometimes there's patience in any process of where you're trying to go as long as you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, that it's something that sometimes you have to go through. He's been there for me and I really appreciate that."
If there's one knock against Zimmer as a coach, it's his inability to get the offense going. Last season -- when Case Keenum went absolutely bonkers out of nowhere -- was the only time the Vikings have ranked in the top 10 in scoring. This past season, Zimmer didn't mesh with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, The Vikings still missed the playoffs, falling woefully short of beating the Bears in Week 17 to clinch a wild-card spot.
The Vikings' offensive coordinator job -- if they end up needing to replace Stefanski, who is reportedly interviewing with the Browns, but could still rejoin the Vikings -- would still be an enticing one. For one, for all of their clear issues on the offensive line, the opportunity to work with two receivers as talented as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and a young running back like Dalvin Cook doesn't come along often. And for all of the criticism Kirk Cousins has taken -- much of it deserved -- he's still a quarterback who threw for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. The Vikings have some concerns, from their offensive line to Zimmer's preference for a run-heavy approach to Cousins' inability to win big games, but they're not some bottom-dwelling team lacking offensive firepower. They're talented.
If the Vikings really do want Jackson, they'll have competition. As La Canfora reported, the Bengals are seriously considering keeping Jackson around as their new head coach or offensive coordinator.
Welcome to 2019, a time when teams might actually start fighting over who gets to hire Hue Jackson.