CLEVELAND -- If there is someone who knows Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson better than anybody in the National Football League, it is Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
The two coaches spent seven years coaching alongside each other, and now, will face off when the Browns travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals in an AFC North Division battle at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday.
“I miss him, but we spent 10 years coaching together, so you love him like a brother that I never had,” Lewis said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “I have spent a lot of time with him, and he obviously is a coach, when we coached together, that has always done such a great job.
“He brings out the best and challenges everybody to be the best, and he challenged you as a coach to be better and the other coaches around him to be better, which is what you want from your coaching staff. He is the epitome of that.”
According to Lewis, the two coaches have remained in communication since Jackson’s departure from Cincinnati for Cleveland in early January.
“I don’t think we got to catch up last week other than wish him good luck, but we have either texted or spoke on the phone generally each week since the season started and a little bit during camp just kind of catching up on things,” Lewis said. “Even before we got ready to play, I would watch the games of the Browns just to keep up with what is going on.”
A secondary assistant and special-teams coach with the Bengals in 2012, Jackson went on to mentor the running backs in 2013. Then, Jackson took over as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator and held the job for two years before joining the Browns.
That was Jackson’s second tour of duty with the Bengals, as he served as Lewis’ wide receivers’ coach from 2004 to 2006.
It was during those seven years that Lewis gained a true appreciation for what Jackson can do as a leader of men. And because of that experience, Lewis hopes Jackson sticks to what he knows best in rebuilding a Browns franchise with just one playoff appearance and two winning seasons since their return to the NFL in 1999.
“I just continue to re-encourage him to stick to his plan,” Lewis said.