Jackson, the Bengals former offensive coordinator, was emotional after Cleveland lost to the New York Giants 27-13.
“Being 0-12 is probably … the hardest thing ever,” Jackson said Sunday.
Jackson and Lewis are very close and have maintained regular contact in the form of texts or phone calls since Jackson left Cincinnati to take the Browns job, except during weeks they play each other. Lewis made sure to give Jackson a call after hearing about the press conference.
“I was told about it and just reached out and encouraged him,” Lewis said.
The two likely won’t be talking much next week when the Bengals travel to Cleveland to face the Browns for the second time. Cincinnati’s last win this season came against the Browns in October.
“I know they’ve got the week off this week, so we’ll get a ball of knives next week,” Lewis said. “Lucky us. That’s the way it goes.”
His best advice to a coach struggling like Jackson: It will get better.
“I think obviously, some days you question whether you’re going to get through the next day because things seem to mount and pile on you,” Lewis said. “I think a lot of times when people ask about what to expect, expect that the next day is going to be a little better. That’s all I can tell you. And then the next year after that, and the next year after that, some of those things that seem so insurmountable that first season, you realize you’re going to get through, things are going to work out and you’re going to find a way and it’s going to work well for you. I think that’s important in a tough season we all go through.”
Lewis is going through struggles of his own this year with the Bengals potentially heading toward one of their worst records in his 14-season tenure (he went 4-11-1 in 2008 and 4-12 in 2010).
“I think coaches work harder, turn over more stones, they become better coaches, better people when … you’re a touch off,” he said.
“When you’re winning, you’re doing the same thing, you’re just not questioned by the masses here. It doesn’t change your outlook on things. I think the players have a hard time wondering why you’re climbing up their butt when you’re winning. Now they won’t have to question that right now. That’s part of it. It’s what we are in professional sports.”