According to Pewter Report, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now hired Earnest Byner as their new running backs coach. This is one hiring I can certainly get behind, as the former NFL star has produced consistently throughout his career as a coach. Under his guidance both Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew won the league's rushing title, and both running backs had their best years with Byner as their coach.
Perhaps most importantly, Byner has helped his running backs perform as pass-catchers and blockers. He coached Clinton Portis for four seasons, and Portis was one of the best blockers and third-down backs in the league during that time. Similarly, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew both added tremendous value to their teams as receiving backs on passing downs. The Bucs struggled to find a productive third-down back after Cadillac Williams left in free agency and Earnest Graham went down with an injury early in the season. Kregg Lumpkin could not produce as a third-down back, while Legarrette Blount wasn't getting on the field on those downs.
It's interesting that the seemingly best coaching hires have taken place on the offensive side of the ball, with offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, offensive line coach Bob Bostad and now running backs coach Earnest Byner all seem to have had much more success than coaches like defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.