If anyone needs further proof the NFL coaching circuit is an old boys club, look no further than Hue Jackson. His resume is proof that while the NFL may be a meritocracy, opportunities are more about who you know than how you perform. Even after statistically the worst head coaching tenure in NFL history, Jackson may be in line for a coordinator job, perhaps even a head coaching job. And apparently, the Vikings are interested.
I mean, Hue Jackson. The name itself carries a lot of baggage. Aside from the abysmal head coaching record and the tendency to cast blame to others at times, Jackson also seems to be disliked by players he coached. Look no further than his star rookie Baker Mayfield, whose personal vendetta against Jackson has grabbed headlines for weeks. That does not exactly give Jackson credibility as a candidate for such an important hire.
All that said, Jackson’s resume as a coordinator is considerably better than his 3-36-1 record in two-and-a-half years at the Browns’ helm. His Bengals units of 2014-2015 were in the top half of the league in scoring and yardage. The 2010 Raiders were top-10 in both categories. His time as play-caller in Cleveland was abysmal, but Jackson’s history as a schemer was enough to get him head coaching gigs two separate times, though both tenures flamed out spectacularly.
More than that, Jackson has some significant endorsements. Former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, the most tenured head coach in the league until this week, called Jackson “more than qualified” to take over for him as head coach in Cincinnati. Mike Zimmer reportedly is on board with Jackson as Vikings’ offensive coordinator, per Ben Goessling. Zimmer and Jackson were both on staff in Cincinnati and briefly in Atlanta, prior to Zimmer coming to Minnesota.
Due to an indirect connection, Jackson could theoretically also have a positive impact on Kirk Cousins. Jackson was running backs coach under Jay Gruden when Gruden was OC in Cincinnati. Gruden then went on to coach Cousins as his starting quarterback for three full seasons in Washington, winning the division in 2015. It is a bit of a stretch, but in theory, Jackson and Gruden would have similar offensive ideals. The hope would be that his would also mesh more with how Zimmer would want the Vikings offense to look.
It remains little more than rumors and speculation at this point. And when it comes down to it, the choice will be Rick Spielman’s. Should Jackson to Minnesota come to fruition, the initial reaction will almost certainly be negative. That said, the fit makes a bit more sense than hesitant fans may be willing to admit.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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