Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 22, 2018 at 1:34 am.

Former Browns coach Jackson on other sideline

As if trying to beat the Bengals isn’t enough of a challenge for the Cleveland Browns, now they are going to face their downstate rivals and their former head coach when they play the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Hue Jackson, fired as Browns head coach on Oct. 29 after going 3-36-1 since the start of the 2016 season, was rehired by the Bengals on Nov. 13 to join the staff of Marvin Lewis.

Jackson was the Bengals offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. He was successful enough to be hired by the Browns, but this time he is helping Lewis in a defensive capacity. That means he could tip off the Bengals into any weakness Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield might have.

Despite the losing record Jackson had as head coach of the Browns, the Browns players still respect him. But they do not believe they have to make drastic changes on either side of the ball just because two of their final six games are against the Bengals. After facing the Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium they will meet again on Dec, 23 in Cleveland.

“We’re not changing (anything), man, period,” safety Damarious Randall said. “We’re going out there and play football. We’re going out there to swarm, tackle and hit. That’s what we know how to do and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

“It’s a divisional game! We knew what they were doing before he went over there and they know exactly what we’re going to do. At the end of the day, we’re just going to go out and punch them in the mouth – straight up. That’s exactly what you have to do on the road rivalry games. If that’s what we do, it doesn’t matter what they have over there.”

Right guard Kevin Zeitler, a former Bengal, played for Jackson in Cincinnati and Cleveland. He called Jackson rejoining the Bengals staff, where Jackson was offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015, “surprising.” Zeitler did not dismiss the intrigue as easily as Randall did.

“Hue’s a smart guy,” Zeitler said. “He knew what we were doing here, so you’ve got to assume they know everything and we’ll find a way around it.”

Wide receiver Rashard Higgins also said this game will come down to what the Browns do more so than any inside knowledge Jackson has.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to us to execute our plays like I’ve been preaching for the last couple of weeks,” Higgins said. “It’s not what Hue Jackson knows, it’s about how we go out and do our thing. We’re not worried about it. We’re just going to go out and play.”

The Browns have bigger things to worry about than how much Jackson can help the Bengals. They have lost 25 straight road games and are eager to break that streak. Losing in Cincinnati would tie them with the Detroit Lions (2007-10) for the longest road losing streak in NFL history.

Now is the time to break the streak, because a week after facing the Bengals they play the Texans in Houston. Interim head coach Gregg Williams has told his players the consequences of being on the wrong end of a historical record.

“The most important game of the final six is this week, but we’re on the road and we talked about things that are important on going on the road and the focus we have on the road,” Williams said. “We have four of the last six on the road so all of that. As a staff, we’ve talked about it, but from the players’ perspective in the meetings, I pointed to this is the most important game because that’s what’s up next.”

The Browns last won in Cincinnati in 2014.

SERIES HISTORY: 90th regular-season meeting: Bengals lead series, 50-39. The Bengals have beaten the Browns seven straight times. There have been no nail-biters in the skid. The closest margin of defeat in the seven games was 13 points, 23-10, in Cleveland on Dec. 11, 2016.