Friday, January 31, 2014

Steelers New RB Coach

So far, the Steelers are doing very well in the off-season.  The AFC North was mess this year: Bengals win the division but crash and burn gloriously in the first game, as usual; the Steelers & Ravens are both 8-8, which for the 2013 AFC was actually pretty good, but not up to both team's standards, and the Browns were the Browns.

The offseason has continued the bad juju with coach changes. The Bengals lost their OC (new Redskins HC) and DC (new Vikings HC), the Ravens their OC (new Detroit HC), and and the Browns were the Browns.: they fired their head-coach in what looks like a panicked frenzy, their very talented Coordinators, both Offense and Defensive, walked.  And the Steelers?  So far, we've lost two position coaches, O-line and Running Backs.  The O-line has been a disaster for a long time and not only did we jettison a bad load, but we hired probably the most talented possible person out there, Mike Munchak, making our staff the only one with three former head-coaches, and two Hall-of-Famers.

The loss of our RB coach, Kirby Wilson, doesn't sadden me either.  The guy was ambitious, apparently, and the Steelers aren't a place to rise as RB coach.  We've had only 2 RB coaches from 1972-2013!  Anyway, the running game has been miserable, along with the O-line, for years, so good riddance.   The new fellow is James Saxon, and he may be exactly what we need. According to poster furthur56 at Behind the Steel Curtain:
So you're saying the guy that got to Kansas City the same year that Priest Holmes got there has only "okay" credentials. You know they guy who Baltimore didn’t want, had rushed for only 2000 yards over 4 seasons, and became a huge breakout star after he hooked up with Saxon. The guy who was there when Larry Johnson was drafted and after initial reports on him tended to include the “bust” label, also developed into a huge star. I’m sure James Saxon had nothing to do with that development. In the history of the NFL only 11 times has a running back scored 20 or more rushing touchdowns in a season, 3 out of those 11 times the plateau was reached by a running back coached by James Saxon. The guy has coached 4 different Running Backs and, you’ll love this Steeler fans, 2 different Fullbacks to Pro Bowl Seasons. That’s a little better than “okay” credentials in my book. He’s shown that he can take a Running Back off the trash heap (Holmes) and make him realize his potential. He’s shown what he can do with a young player (Johnson) who has talent, but lacking in fundamentals. He’s shown he can get the most out of older players (Tony Richardson, Ricky Williams) who are in the twilights of their careers. He’s shown what that he can manage a bona fide Superstar (Peterson) through the best season of his career. The only thing he hasn’t done is work for a team with a Quarterback as good as Ben. Every stop Saxon has been, the Running Game was pretty much the entire offense, defenses knew to prepare for it, and still, the running game produced. Those are his credentials. And while you are free to categorize them as merely “okay”, I wonder what a credentials a candidate would need in order to “thrilled by the hire”.

Like Dick Hoak, Saxon has always been a RB coach - Hoak for us 1972-2007 - and Saxon for 22 years over different teams. No (false) ambition to be an OC etc. He wants to do what he does, similar to Munchak who agreed to be an o-line coach after being a freakin' head coach. Shows that's where Munchaks' heart beats, and I think Saxon as well.

I'd even put some money on the possibility that when Saxon became available, the Steelers front office made a calculation and asked for a 'trade.'

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