Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



There's been a surprising amount of fallout over the firing of Steelers running backs coach James Saxon.

It's pointed out that the Steelers' RBs did well under Saxon's tutelage, and they did.

That was especially true this past season. Le'Veon Bell was replaced more than adequately, with the Steelers showing increases in:

*Yards per carry (up from 3.8 in 2017 to 4.2 in 2018).

*100-yard games (up from four to six).

*Runs of 20 yards or longer (up from six to 10).

*Rushing touchdowns (up from 12 to 16).

But the Steelers want to fix their culture, so perhaps that played a role in Saxon's dismissal. Coach Mike Tomlin and Saxon are known to be close. Perhaps ownership is trying to shrink Tomlin's comfort zone. (That started with firing Tomlin crony Joey Porter).

Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network says Steelers players are upset by Saxon's firing.

By "Steelers players," Kinkhabwala means Darrius Heyward-Bey. He's Kinkhabwala's secret squirrel in the Steelers' locker room.

But if Steelers players get angry because anybody gets fired, they should look in the mirror. Changes wouldn't be happening if they hadn't faded from 7-2-1 to out of the playoffs.

If a reorganization of the staff and roster makes Steelers players do some reflecting, it's worth doing for that reason alone.

The protesting of Saxon's firing among some fans (and some media) is actually funny. Most fans didn't know who the Steelers' running backs coach was until yesterday. Kinkhabwala didn't write one word about Saxon before yesterday.

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