As expected, Hue Jackson was named special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis as well as the team's running backs coach.
This is a better role for Jackson than he had last season, when he was the secondary coach and the assistant special-teams coach. Jackson, the former Raiders head coach, has made his mark on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL, coaching quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs.
The last time Jackson coached running backs was 2001 and 2002, when he was with the Redskins. He takes over the running backs position formerly held by Jim Anderson, who last week announced his retirement after 29 years.
“People in football know what kind of offensive mind Hue brings to a staff,” Lewis said, “so he’s going to be great with our running backs. And I’m going to take better advantage of his expertise in all aspects of football and coaching, which is very wide. He will help me be more effective in a number of ways.”
Jackson's challenge is getting the Bengals' ground game to live up to its potential. Last season, the Bengals finished 18th in running the ball in BenJarvus Green-Ellis' first season as the featured back. That was a slight improvement from 2011, when Cincinnati was 19th in running the ball. In addition to giving Jackson a new role, the Bengals also need to add more speed to the backfield in the upcoming draft.
Jackson has a history of developing strong running games. In Oakland, the Raiders had the NFL's No. 2 rushing attack in 2010 when Jackson was the offensive coordinator and finished No. 7 in rushing offense in 2011 when Jackson was the head coach.
“This is all about us getting better as an offensive team,” Lewis said. “It was a tremendous development for our staff that we were able to get Hue last year, and now I’m excited to expand his role.”