Marvin Lewis wanted Hue Jackson to take over as Bengals' coach

BEREA, Ohio -- Marvin Lewis wanted his previous offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals to eventually take over as head coach, Lewis said Wednesday.

"We had clearly spoke of an opportunity for Hue to stay here if he so liked" Lewis said on a conference call with the Cleveland media. "If that's what he chose to do, then eventually he would become the head coach."

Jackson instead chose to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

NFL.com first reported the succession story, saying Jackson and Lewis had presented the idea to Bengals owner Mike Brown. The plan had Jackson taking over as Bengals coach in 2018.

Jackson, according to NFL.com, felt the situation would have been awkward.

"That's Marvin's football team. Been there a long time," Jackson said Wednesday. "I think it's hard to ever replace a best friend that way and be there waiting behind. I didn't think it was the right thing for me to do. I didn't think it would be right their team.

"Obviously, I will always be in debt to the Bengals, but I think I'm where I'm supposed to be right now."

Lewis, however, said the plan would have worked.

"He and I are very close," Lewis said. "All he wants is to win football games. We both have the same goal, and that's what's important. It would not have been an issue."

Lewis' affection for Jackson is readily apparent.

"You love him like a brother that I never had," Lewis said. "I spent a lot of time with him. ... [When] we coached together, every time, [he] has always done such a great job. I think he brings out the best and challenges everybody to be the best."

The pair twice coached together in Cincinnati, from 2004 to 2005 and 2012 to 2015. Lewis hired Jackson soon after he was relieved of his job as Raiders coach.

"This weekend won't be about Marvin and Hue Jackson," Jackson said. "It will be about our football teams more so than anything."