Earlier this week Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson tried to downplay his return to Oakland to face the Raiders, the team that fired him after he went 8-8 in his first season as head coach in 2011.
But Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis made it clear at his Wednesday press conference that Sunday’s season opener means quite a bit to Jackson, who was born and raised in Los Angeles.
“It’ll be a special moment, there’s no doubt,” Lewis said. “I remember going back to Baltimore, and I left on different terms. I would expect that. That’s the way it is. Just like when I went from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. It’s different when you walk back in the stadium on the other side.
“Hell, this game means a lot,” Lewis continued. “It means a lot to him.”
And Jackson, Lewis added, has meant a lot to him since returning to Cincinnati, where he was the wide receivers coach from 2004-06, as a defensive backs and special teams assistant a few months after his firing in Oakland.
“I hope it was beneficial to him,” Lewis said. “I know it was certainly beneficial to us, and to me because he came back here with a whole different perspective of things. He came back with the perspective of a head coach. He really did come back with a big picture (perspective). I know he was very, very beneficial to me.
“I can go in and ask him a question or look at something critically and he doesn’t take offense to it,” Lewis continued. “He knows what I’m doing it. It doesn’t impede him from moving forward. Or he can come in say why can’t we have more of this or less of that or whatever it may be. I know he’s looking at it from the big picture and not just one-sided. That’s good. That’s a good perspective to have. When you gain that kind of experience, I’d be foolish not to listen to it.”