The Chargers will have their hands full in the Queen City on Sunday.
Especially in matching wits with King Jackson on the Cincinnati Bengals sidelines.
Maybe knighting Jackson is a stretch. Then again, as the Raiders head coach in 2011, he led them to an 8-8 record.
That was their best mark since 2002 and they haven’t matched it since.
But it’s Jackson’s action against the Bolts which is notable.
As Oakland’s offensive coordinator he swept the Chargers in 2010. Add that to him splitting with San Diego the following year, and that’s a spiffy 3-1 mark against the Bolts.
Might Jackson’s offensive approach deliver an edge against this weekend’s San Diego tourists?
“It’s so different, personnel-wise and scheme-wise, it’s totally different,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said. “It’s been so long ago…but he does a great job there.”
Jackson has daunting pieces on his chess board: a field-stretching wide receiver in A. J. Green, two productive running backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard and an emerging tight end in Tyler Eifert.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is dandy, so as long as it’s the regular season.
“They have unbelievable skill players,” Pagano said. “They do a great job of running the football and they have a controlled passing attack that can really open up the field.”
It’s all done before the snap in which Jackson is seemingly moving players like a puppeteer pulling various strings. It’s a shift here, a different alignment there and wham — the ball is snapped.
“It’s how fast they are playing, the tempo they are playing at and all the different things they do formation-wise,” Pagano said.
“We have to make sure we are communicating at a high level. There are always trying to get you to slip up, here and there.”
Way over there on the far sideline is Jackson. His discerning view sees an improved Chargers product.
“They’ve gotten better,” he said. “They do a lot of disguising.
“Eric Weddle I’m sure is (Pagano’s) traffic controller back there. He does it all for them. And the guy is very smart. He can diagnose plays. And Pagano does a very nice job overall with guys getting the ball out.”
Getting off the field is goal No. 1 for Pagano’s charges.
“As a defense, it’s not about them it’s about us and getting lined up right,” he said. “They could come out and run the wishbone as far as well know.”
Jackson knows football. Jackson knows the Chargers.
“It’s going to be a hell of a challenge,” he said.
And one he’s met four times, only failing once.