Cincinnati Bengals: Hue Jackson Leaves, Marvin Lewis Stays, Vontaze Burfict Suspended

Since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs, a lot has been happening in the Cincinnati Bengals camp. Many were saying that head coach Marvin Lewis might be gone after his fifth consecutive Playoff loss. Several different teams were eyeing offensive coordinator Hue Jackson as a potential head coach of their own. And of course, opinions were still out on the hit Vontaze Burfict delivered to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and the remarks Adam "Pacman" Jones made about it during and after the game.

In what was part of the massive meltdown that was the Cincinnati Bengals at the end of their latest NFL Playoff game, Vontaze Burfict was called for a personal foul -- resulting in a 15-yard penalty -- during the Steelers' final drive of the game. Coupled with another 15-yard penalty for Adam Jones giving a Pittsburgh coach a piece of his mind, the Steelers found themselves in field goal position with just seconds to play.

The rest is history.

In an age where the NFL is trying to convince the world that safety comes first, it comes as no surprise that Burfict was suspended for the crushing blow that will keep Antonio Brown from participating in Pittsburgh's next Playoff game. As reported by Cincinnati, Vontaze Burfict was fined after this specific play due to "repeated violations of safety-related playing rules." For the multiple offenses, Vontaze was given a three-game suspension next season and fines totalling $70,000.

Burfict plans on appealing the NFL's decision. Regarding the punishment, Marvin Lewis noted that he understands why the league would come to that decision.

"When receiving the football, those guys are being protected. I understand. I'm part of why they're being protected."
Speaking of Lewis, many assumed that his loss to the Steelers would be his last game as the head coach of Cincinnati. Whether it was Lewis leaving after watching his players drop the ball (literally) or Lewis being released early, the rumors have been shut down. As reported, Marvin Lewis fully intends to be back in Cincinnati next year. In fact, he's already been thinking about what next season's focus will have to look like.
"We have to control us. I think that's the message. It's been the message and unfortunately, we had to reinforce it again at an inopportune moment for all of us. Because it stings and it hurts, I think that's the thing. It's unfortunate. It brought the season to a screeching halt, way too fast."
However, one key component of the Bengals success is headed to the AFC Central Division's perennial underdogs, the Cleveland Browns. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson -- having been interviewed by many teams -- accepted the position of Cleveland's new head coach. Rather than running Cincinnati's offense next year, he'll be trying to shut it down. As ESPN reports, the Browns announced signing Jackson on Wednesday.
According to sources, Jackson told Cleveland's management during his interview that he thought the Browns should "move on" from Johnny Manziel -- and he was told that would not be a problem. Cleveland is hoping that Jackson can really shake things up, as they haven't had a winning season since 2007, haven't been in the Playoffs since the 2002 season, and haven't won a Playoff game since 1994.

While trying to find a replacement for Hue Jackson during the off-season, Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals will also have to deal with 15 players that are going to be free agents. One of those free agents includes Adam "Pacman" Jones, who has recently received a lot of criticism for his remarks about Antonio Brown faking an injury after the hit by Vontaze Burfict.

[Image via AP Photo/Frank Victores]