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Thread: AFC North Q&A: Will Hue Jackson be coaching the Browns or Bengals in 2018?

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    AFC North Q&A: Will Hue Jackson be coaching the Browns or Bengals in 2018?

    AFC North Q&A: Will Hue Jackson be coaching the Browns or Bengals in 2018?

    If the Browns show reasonable improvement in 2017, coach Hue Jackson won't be going anywhere. AP Photo/David J. Phillip7:00 AM ET

    • Pat McManamonESPN Staff Writer

    The Cleveland Browns seem committed to head coach Hue Jackson -- but if Marvin Lewis resigns in Cincinnati, speculation about his successor will turn to Jackson, the Bengals' former offensive coordinator. Will Jackson be coaching the Browns or Bengals in 2018? Our AFC North reporters weigh in.

    Jeremy Fowler, ESPN's Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: That's a fascinating scenario, and one that Jackson would be foolish not to consider, but I predict he'll coach the Browns in 2018. Jackson can look at the ever-expanding list of Browns head coaches and compare it with Cincinnati, which has supported Lewis through 14 years, zero playoff wins and four losing seasons. The Bengals exhibit patience, a quality that is attractive to any coaching candidate. But the wild card is Jackson's seemingly positive momentum in Cleveland. Though he must win eventually, he has the right makeup for the Browns job and could earn a longer leash as a result. If Cleveland shows reasonable improvement in 2017, Jackson will stay close to Lake Erie.

    Jamison Hensley, ESPN's Baltimore Ravens reporter: Browns. I believe Lewis will be coaching the Bengals in 2018, so this point is moot. Even if the Bengals' position opened up, Jackson will stay with the Browns. Jackson was fired by the Oakland Raiders in 2011 after going 8-8. It took five years before another organization put its faith in Jackson to be its head coach. The Browns won't show the same lack of patience that the Raiders had with him. No one would blame Jackson if he wanted to go. It's not as if the Browns have been the portrait of loyalty. Cleveland has had six head coaches since 2008. But these Browns are being built for the future and Jackson will want to see it through after the trials of a one-win season.

    Katherine Terrell, ESPN's Cincinnati Bengals reporter: Marvin Lewis might or might not be in Cincinnati in 2018. There has been a lot of speculation about his future as he enters the final season of his contract. Whatever happens to Lewis, it appears the Bengals' window for getting Hue Jackson has passed. The Bengals had discussed a potential succession plan for Jackson to take over for Lewis in 2018 following his retirement, but that never came to fruition and Jackson accepted the head coaching position in Cleveland. Yes, the Browns haven't had much patience with their coaches lately. In fact, two seasons seems to be the going rate for a coach's tenure in Cleveland. But they also appear to be trying to make some changes and have essentially undergone a total rebuild. Of course, he's not totally safe. Jackson is going to have to finish better than 1-15 this time. But the likelihood of Jackson being free to accept a job with the Bengals and Lewis retiring or not having his contract renewed in the same season seems unlikely.

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    AFC North Q&A: Will this be Marvin Lewis' final season with Bengals?

    Jul 7, 2017

    • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

    With his contract up at the end of the year, Marvin Lewis is entering the season as the lame-duck coach of the Bengals, an organization that's considered one of the most loyal in the NFL. Will that loyalty come to an end for Lewis after the 2017 season? Our AFC North reporters weigh in.

    Jeremy Fowler, ESPN's Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Assuming he finishes the season with an above-.500 record, Lewis will be back in the head seat in 2018. Why walk away from a job that pays nearly $5 million per year and comes with unprecedented job security for a coach with zero playoff wins? If the Bengals aren't going to fire Lewis, then odds are he won't retire unless forced. This feels like a marriage on autopilot, where both parties (Lewis and owner Mike Brown) aren't completely satisfied but are content enough to make it work. The Bengals would have to be blown away by the prospective coaching pool entering January. Still, Lewis' impressive run of five straight playoff appearances from 2011 to '15 isn't far off.

    Jamison Hensley, ESPN's Baltimore Ravens reporter:
    No, although you can't say that with great confidence. Lewis' contract runs out at the end of the season, which is a precarious position for any coach. If Brown wanted to get rid of Lewis, he could have done it the previous two offseasons. Brown had a legitimate reason to let Lewis go after the Bengals' playoff meltdown against the Steelers two years ago. He could've fired Lewis last year after a disappointing 6-9-1 season. Maybe Brown remembers what it was like before Lewis. The Bengals produced nine double-digit-loss seasons and no playoff appearances from 1991 to 2002. With Lewis, Cincinnati has won 118 games and reached the postseason seven times. No, there haven't been any playoff wins. But after all they've been through, it's hard to believe Brown will part ways with Lewis at this point.

    Pat McManamon, ESPN's Cleveland Browns reporter:
    There's a fair amount of chatter and assumption that this will be it. Lewis has been working for the Bengals since 2003, which in the NFL is a couple of lifetimes. Over the years, Lewis has become a bit of a lovable curmudgeon as he becomes less leery of expressing strong feelings. The thing is that Lewis doesn't need to retire. He'll be 59 in September and other coaches have stayed into their 60s. The Bengals emphasized offense in the draft with John Ross and Joe Mixon, so if there is a resurgence and bounce-back from last year's 6-9-1 season with some promise for 2018, it would not be at all surprising to see Lewis back for more.

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    AFC North Q&A: Who is on hottest seat in division?

    Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hasn't won a playoff game in his 14 years in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Ron Schwane7:00 AM ET
    • staff

    Our AFC North writers examine which player, coach or front-office executive is on the hottest seat in the division.

    Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Has to be Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. His number of playoff wins (zero) hovers over Paul Brown Stadium like a southwest Ohio cloud. He's entering a contract year without the promise of a new deal, and though his consistency is admirable -- five straight playoff berths from 2011-15 should not go overlooked -- overcoming a spotty offensive line will prove challenging in 2017. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh needs to re-establish himself after one winning season in four tries, but his Super Bowl pedigree creates goodwill. Don't look now, but Browns owner Jimmy Haslam seems poised to wait out the Hue Jackson-Sashi Brown regime. In 2017, Lewis has the most to gain or lose in the AFC North.

    Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter: Lewis. Some can argue that the NFL's second-longest-tenured coach has been on the hot seat for the past couple of years. But Lewis' current situation is the very definition of it. He's in the final year of his contract. He's coming off a 6-9-1 season. And he hasn't won a playoff game in his 14 years in Cincinnati. Still, no one should forget about what the Bengals were like in the 12 seasons before Lewis' arrival. Cincinnati totaled nine double-digit-loss seasons and produced a 55-137 record (.286). With Lewis, the Bengals have reached the playoffs seven times and have a 118-103-3 mark (.533).

    Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns reporter: Hue Jackson, and not because he lacks job security but because Jackson might not be able to take another miserable season if the Browns struggle again. The toll of a 1-15 season and starting 0-14 weighed heavily on the Browns coach. The strain was more evident every week. At one point, Jackson almost broke into tears when he talked about being winless as "the worst thing ever." When the season ended, Jackson guaranteed the Browns would not go 1-15 again, and if they did people would find him swimming in Lake Erie. The Browns have made strides to be better, though they still have uncertainty at quarterback. They won't win 10 games, but they may win six. For them, that's progress. If, though, they have another one- or even a two- or three-win season, it will be tough on the team's coach. The likelihood of him getting fired is small, but Haslam's track record of firing coaches after one or two seasons can't be ignored if 2017 approaches the '16 misery. Jackson doesn't need to make the playoffs in 2017, but it sure would help him psychologically and mentally to win six games.

    Katherine Terrell, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: Lewis. Jackson certainly can't feel comfortable after winning only one game last season, but the Browns have pledged their commitment to him. Lewis is entering his 15th season, this time without a contract extension in the works. The Bengals' 0-7 record in the playoffs under him certainly looms large, and there will be a lot of pressure this season for him to finally get the team that elusive playoff victory. If the Bengals take another step back, it's not out of the question that Lewis and the team part ways.


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