Kirby Wilson/James Saxon
This is where the carrousel gets a little fun house-y weird for me. Kirby Wilson was the running backs coach for the Steelers for the last seven seasons (right when Tomlin showed up). Wilson interviewed with the Baltimore Ravens for the open OC position. He went in for a second interview, but was passed on. Within days of that becoming public, Wilson was reported as being hired by the Minnesota Vikings as their new running backs coach. A lateral move that is not unprecedented within the league, but not very common either. Usually assistant coaches leave for promotions, not to just get out. What predicated the move?
The situation with Wilson is shrouded in a bit of dust because there are reports that Wilson didn’t even coach the running backs this past season. Was it taken away as punishment? Or was it taken away so he could perform other coaching duties that needed help? There are also unconfirmed reports that Wilson and Haley did not get along. Was Wilson angry because the team has made no move or mention of removing Todd Haley as OC? It’s obvious that Wilson felt he could coach in that position and was thought highly of by the Raven’s organization to have two rounds of interviews. Was he bitter? Then there’s the bit with former backup quarterback Charlie Batch chiming in on Twitter.
Obviously, Batch is insinuating that there’s something fishy going on over at the South Side. Many fans have dismissed Batch’s tweet as one coming from a bitter backup who has a chip on his shoulder. About what, I ask you? He’s only been there since 2002 and has personally witnessed the changes happening within the organization. How could he ever be on to something? He might be a bit daft to say something like this on Twitter, but he’s never been outspoken about the team in this way before. Might he be on to something?
The Steelers hired James Saxon on Tuesday to replace the spot left open by Wilson’s departure. Ironically, Saxon comes from the Vikings where he coached the likes of Adrian Peterson for three years. Saxon’s performance was never under question when he left Minnesota, and he only fell victim to the regime change in the Twin Cities when new head coach Mike Zimmer sat down at his desk. Saxon is in his 23rd year in the NFL as a coach or player, and he has coached running backs in the NFL since 2000. How Saxon will develop a young back like Le’Veon Bell is to be seen, but having Adrian Peterson as one of your references should help to instill confidence in Steeler Nation with his hiring.