Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson spoke with members of the media who cover the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday.
Here are five takeaways:
1. He isn’t among people worried about Andy Dalton.
The former Bengals assistant expects his former pupil to continue putting two bad games to open the season behind him.
“You guys know my fondness for Andy,” said Jackson, who was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati in 2015, Dalton’s best season in the NFL.
“He knows how to play. He knows how to play in that system. I think he’ll get back to being Andy. I just don’t want him to do it this week.”
2. He might be worried about Vontaze Burfict.
The controversial Bengals linebacker returns from a three-game suspension this week.
“Their defense has played extremely well,” Jackson said. “Vontaze is the ultimate player for the defense. He’s kind of the straw that stirs the drink.”
Burfict has been suspended multiple times for illegal hits, but Jackson had nothing but praise for him.
“I have a fondness for Vontaze because of the way he plays the game. He’s a true professional. He loves football. He plays the way anybody would want any linebacker to play, and obviously they’re getting back a really find football player and adding that to a really find defense.”
3. He’s impressed with the Bengals defense overall.
Jackson praised the job Paul Guenther has done since replacing Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator in 2014.
“Obviously he took over for one of the best,” Jackson said. “Paulie has kept it going and put his stamp on it. The defense plays with great tenacity, with unquestioned pass rush.”
The Browns coach noted the Bengals have been getting strong contributions from some young players on that side of the ball.
“They’ve done a great job retooling the talent there.”
4. Joe Mixon has impressed him, too.
The Bengals rookie running back leads the team with 107 yards rushing on 35 carries. He has also caught seven passes for 59 yards.
“When I watch him on tape he’s an explosive young player that’s got fresh legs that’s tough and can cut on a dime,” Jackson said. “He’s a big guy. He’s an explosive football player.”
5. Jackson called his win-less team a work in progress.
“I think our guys are working hard. We’re trying to be the best we can be every time we go out and play. We’re just looking to improve and get better and obviously we’re looking for an opportunity to win a game.”
The Bengals lead the overall series 48-39, but they are just 19-24 against the Browns in Cleveland.