Jan 24

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Out of the Ether: A Running Backs Coach

James Saxon

A lot of names have been brandied about for potential running backs coaches for the Vikings during the last two weeks. None of those names were James Saxon… but nevertheless, that’s who is joining the Vikings this week. It seems that Gene Huey, who was fired from the Colts last week, decided to retire instead of accepting the Vikings’ offer to replace Eric Bieniemy. No comments have been made by either the Vikings or from Gene Huey himself. Yet.

So… Who is James Saxon? Saxon was a 1988 draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs, for whom he played 4 seasons. He then moved on to Miami for 3 and ended his career as a running back in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995.

Saxon has had various coaching jobs in the NFL for the last 11 years. He was an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001 – 2007 and spent the last 3 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, who let him go after the 2010 season ended. Under his tutelage, 8 players have been named to the Pro Bowl over the last 10 years.

Now Saxon will be working with our own Pro Bowler, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart in his sophomore season. Like Bieniemy, Saxon is a graduate of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship. There isn’t a lot of information about Saxon’s coaching philosophy. I’m sure we all saw the video of Eric Bieniemy working with Adrian Peterson and his patience, allowing blocks to develop between the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Will Saxon have a similar approach? That remains to be seen. But the pressure will be on given Leslie Frazier’s desire to produce a run-first offense. Saxon will need to work closely with OC Bill Musgrave and Offensive Line coach Jeff Davidson in order to produce a high-powered running offense for 2011.

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