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.
"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."
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.