MOBILE, Ala. – With Rex Ryan now the head coach in Buffalo, Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has gone from head coaching candidate to second year in command of an offense he expects to be a lot better than 15th in the NFL.
"I expect us to be one of the better offenses in football. I do," Jackson said Tuesday as he watched the North practice at the Reese's Senior Bowl. "That's my expectation and there's no reason we shouldn't."
Jackson likes where the running game is headed after a No. 6 finish in the league. But after watching quarterback Andy Dalton throw almost as many interceptions (17) as touchdowns (19), Jackson sent the word forth.
"The next step is we obviously have to throw the ball better," Jackson said. "More consistently. Eliminate the turnovers. The running game is close to where we want it to be, but we have to throw the ball more efficiently. We need more chunk plays in the pass game and when we do that the running game becomes even better."
Jackson wants more consistency from Dalton "regardless of who we play." He calls it "paramount," from the quarterback and Jackson wants him to stay away from that choppy series or two that can stretch into three and four quarters.
But he also say it's not all Dalton and points to about half of the interceptions. Jackson said film study revealed nine of the 17 picks were the cause of "decision making," and the other eight weren't because of the quarterback. He cited pressure or tipped balls and concluded, "We have to cut them in half."
But Jackson is bubbling. He's a Dalton guy and he thinks his passing game gets better just by pure rehab. He admitted how tough it was when No. 2 wide receiver Marvin Jones and No. 2 tight end Tyler Eifert played virtually no snaps this season and four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green was held to no catches in six games including the playoffs because he was either out with an injury or was injured during the game.
"You can't be a really good offense if you don't have A.J. Green all the time," Jackson said. "You can't be a really good offense without Marvin Jones. When you don't have Tyler Eifert you can't be a really good offense. I think you can be good but I don't think you can be great and my charge is to make us great."
He thinks greatness is around corner.
"I wish we were practicing," said Jackson as he watched practice.
DALTON SURPRISED: Jackson worked the Pro Bowl as Joe Flacco's quarterbacks coach a few years ago,so Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's selection to his second Pro Bowl had him pleased on a number of fronts.
"I know he's playing football and he's throwing to our guy. That's good,' said Jackson of the reunion of Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green in Sunday's game (8 p.m.-ESPN) in Glendale, Ariz.
Dalton got the nod when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers bowed out, matching Carson Palmer's two Pro Bowl selections in 2005 and 2006.
After emerging from Tuesday's Senior Bowl weigh-in, Jackson recalled his experience with Flacco while he was in Baltimore.
"It's a great chance to spend a week with the best of the best and rub elbows," Jackson said. "Ask questions. Observe. That's what they do. Anytime you go into a situation like that, there's a lot of exchanging of ideas. He needs to grow from the experience and it's a great opportunity for him."
Dalton, who threw a career-low 19 TD passes but made it to his fourth straight postseason, admitted he didn't expect the call Tuesday morning.
"I was excited," he texted. "It's cool to be going to my second Pro Bowl."
JOSEPH IN TALKS:The Bengals won't be losing one of their valued assistant coaches.
Cornerbacks coach Vance Joseph reportedly won't be the Broncos' next defensive coordinator because the Bengals won't give him permission to leave, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports.com
Joseph, 42, an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks after working with new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak in Houston, got rave reviews in his first year with the Bengals.
He oversaw the development of youngsters Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard during a season the Bengals finished in the top ten in several passing defense categories, including third in defensive passer rating.
Many NFL teams have opted to prevent their top position coaches from leaving as coordinators if they are under contract and the Bengals kept secondary coach Kevin Coyle in 2011 when the Eagles offered him the defensive coordinator job. The Dolphins hired him in that capacity after that season. Just last week the Titans denied tight ends coach Mike Mularkey permission to interview for an offensive coordinator's job.
Joseph interviewed for Denver's head coaching job last week but the match was clearly with Kubiak. Joseph also played his college ball at the University of Colorado.