Sports Today: Bengals need to unlock what made Hue Jackson-Andy Dalton duo a success

The Cincinnati Bengals play the Cleveland Browns this week. 

That not only (almost) guarantees at least one of Ohio’s NFL teams will have a win to begin October, it also opens the door to all sorts of interesting subplots thanks to the man who coaches the Browns. 

Hue Jackson was honest yesterday on a conference call with Cincinnati reporters when he was asked if he thought both of these teams would be winless heading into this game. 

“I sure as helllll didn’t,” he said. 

Jackson sidestepped a question about his replacement as the Bengals offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese, being fired two weeks ago, but he did offer praise for a pair of Cincinnati players who are lightning rods for different reasons. 

The first was Andy Dalton. 

Jackson said the Bengals quarterback will bounce back because he has a history of success and he knows how to play in their offense. 

What I found more interesting was Dalton’s response when asked about the impact Jackson had on him. 

“He gave me a lot of confidence playing the game,” Dalton said. "He trusted me with a lot of stuff and allowed me to do a lot of things. He expects a lot out of his players and he’s obviously a great coach here, a great coordinator, and it allowed him to get that job (in Cleveland).” 

This is pretty fascinating if you’re under the impression (as I am) that Dalton seems to be suffering from a crisis of confidence early in this season. 

Part of that may be simply because he can’t trust his protection, but we saw Aaron Rodgers overcome even worse pass blocking on Sunday and lead his team to a win in a close game. 

The same things were evident during a run of close-game losses midway through last season, too. 

Maybe that’s just not in Dalton’s DNA, but it might not be a coincidence he hasn’t been the same without Jackson, who certainly exudes confidence himself. 

At any rate, the challenge then remains for Jackson’s successors to craft a plan that makes the quarterback feel comfortable because nobody can short-circuit a good game plan quicker than the guy with the ball in his hands most of the time… 

Jackson also did not hold back when asked about Vontaze Burfict, the Twitter’s least-favorite football player. 

The Browns coach not only said the Bengals are adding a really fine football player to a defense that has already played pretty well, he appreciates the way Burfict plays the game. 

RELATED: Burfict prepares for return from suspension

“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.” 

I thought that statement might get some attention on Twitter, but I haven’t seen it take off yet... 

Meanwhile, the scandal rocking college basketball continued to unfold yesterday as Rick Pitino was forced out at Louisville. 

So was the director of athletics, but those are just the first two of many heads that will surely roll as this goes on. 

Locally, four-star Dayton verbal commit Dwayne Cohill tweeted to brag about the Flyers’ not being involved in the scandal, following the lead of University President Eric F. Spina

Wright State coach Scott Nagy said it was a sad time for college basketball but expressed hope this means things will get cleaned up in the sport.

Ohio State held its men’s basketball media day as multiple people who cover the team suggested the Thad Matta era might have ended differently if he were willing to do some of the things now getting other schools in hot water. 

Ironically, new Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann missed media day because he was out of town recruiting, but sophomore Micah Potter was among those talking about the hottest topic in the sport. 

“Coach Matta, I’m sure he struggled with stuff like that because he did everything the right way,” Potter said (via “I think he would have never done anything differently. I know Coach Holtmann would never do anything differently, and that’s a big part of why I chose to come here, why I liked Coach Matta and why I like Coach Holtmann so much. They do things the right way.”  

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