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Marvin Lewis on Hue Jackson: I miss the hell out of him

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This year's Cincinnati Bengals don't look much like last year's Cincinnati Bengals.

Last year's team rolled out to an 8-0 start behind a powerful, diverse ground game and a reliable air attack led by the hyper-efficient play of quarterback Andy Dalton.

One season later, though, Cincy hovers at 2-4 and clearly misses a handful of lost ingredients: wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu; still-injured tight end Tyler Eifert; and the frisky, creative play-calling of Hue Jackson, who left to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

"I miss the hell out of him," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday, per The Plain Dealer.

Marvin's Bengals will battle Hue's Browns on Sunday, temporarily silencing a still-lively line of communication between the pair.

"When my phone rings at 5 o'clock in the morning, I know it's only one person," Lewis said. "It's not Chad (Johnson) either, it's Chad's former coach, Hue. I watch their games every week, and text or call him. He's coaching his tail off, as we knew he would."

As for the Bengals, playing the Browns could be just what the doctor ordered. Giving up 29.3 points per game -- tied for third worst in the league -- Cleveland has struggled to halt anyone.

Sunday looms as a juicy matchup for a Bengals team that has slipped from seventh in points per game in 2015 to 30th this autumn. Similar slippage in the ground game, third-down efficiency and a swath other statistics bear the marks of a team that waved farewell to plenty of talent in the offseason.

And it's not just Jackson: Consider that Lewis also recently had Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer on staff. The Bengals coach has grown one of the league's more bountiful coaching trees.

It says a lot about Lewis and his ability to groom and grow assistants, but the cost this season has been steep for Bengals fans hoping for another fast start.

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