Hooley: Trading coaches could help Browns, Bengals

Marvin Lewis is 2-0 against his former offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, in the Battle of Ohio

The Browns and Bengals have never made a trade with each other, and I have to admit there's absolutely no chance they would do what I'm about to suggest. 

But I make this proposal purely in the best interest of both franchises, because each has something the other desperately needs to be a far better football team than it currently is. 

And that something is...each other's head coach. 

That's right, I'm proposing that when Marvin Lewis and Hue Jackson meet at midfield Sunday before kickoff, both the Browns and Bengals would be better off if they'd trade coaching gear and return to the opposite sideline -- Hue on the Bengals side and Marvin on the Browns side. 

Now the perfect time for this to happen was at the end of the 2015 season, when the Bengals blew a home playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a Jeremy Hill fumble when the game should have been over and two stupid penalties that followed on Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones. 

Just imagine if, in the immediate aftermath of that game, if Bengals owner Mike Brown had fired Lewis and elevated Jackson from offensive coordinator to head coach. 

Hue was a popular guy with Bengals players, and he would have brought a much-needed jolt of energy to a franchise reeling from its fifth straight playoff loss. 

Think about it, all those fancy offensive weapons the Bengals have, Hue would have a field day with those. He could shift and motion to his heart's content, and he could get his veteran offense to line up in all sorts of goofy formations that the Bengals have the experience to handle, but the Browns stumble all over themselves trying to execute. 

Now if the Bengals had fired Marvin and hired Hue, that would have left the Browns at the altar, waiting outside Paul Brown Stadium to interview Jackson for their head coaching job after that loss to Pittsburgh. 

But if the Browns were smart -- yes, I know, the ship has sailed on that, but just stick with me -- if the Browns were smart, they would have scooped up Marvin and pirated him off to Cleveland. 

Marvin Lewis, as flat-line and, OK, boring as he is, would have been a much better hire for the Browns than the fast-talking, trending-toward-used-car-salesman, everything-is-sunshine-and-balloons Hue Jackson. 

Marvin Lewis wouldn't run a fake punt with 10 guys on the field and then swear two days later he had 11 guys out there. Marvin Lewis wouldn't order a flea-flicker from his own 1-yard line into triple coverage. And Marvin Lewis wouldn't have called two guys he just met with no experience for the front office jobs they have "the two smartest men in the NFL." 

The Bengals have the talent and experience to allow for a coach given to hyperbole, and that's Hue Jackson. 

The Browns aren't good enough to say or do anything bold. They need a solid, steady, build-it-one-step-at-a-time guy like Marvin Lewis. 

Now before you discard this idea, let me remind you that what I'm proposing actually sorta happened once before. 

Back in 1975, the Browns hired Forrest Gregg as their head coach. He took them from 3-11 in his first season to 9-5 the next, then got fired after a 6-8 season in 1977. 

Three years later, the Bengals hired Gregg as their head coach and he took them to the Super Bowl in his second year. 

So, that's my case for a head coaching swap to being some starch back to this Browns-Bengals rivalry. 

I know it won't happen, but it would definitely make both teams better.


Bruce Hooley

Bruce Hooley

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