FILE: Gene Huey, running backs coach of the Indianapolis Colts talks to players during play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Colts won 24-20. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
I hope people understand that the anger I've expressed in my recent posts about Gene Huey's firing is indeed genuine. Huey was an absolute joy to talk with at the Super Bowl last year; a fountain of football knowledge. I even asked him, 'Why aren't you a coordinator? Your resume is amazing!' and his answer was (paraphrased), 'I'm not one of those guys. I'm not a guru. I'm a football coach.'
And when I've spoke to people like Marshall Faulk, Joseph Addai, Mike Hart, and many others, all of them gushed over Huey. When I spoke to retired players and assistants in Miami, along with media and other accredited press, the sentiment was Huey was one of the best position coaches in the NFL.
Considering that, these past two years, the Colts offensive line has gotten worse and worse, while the running back position has been a circus of musical chairs due to injury (Joseph Addai missed eight games in 2010, Mike Hart missed nine games), Huey managed to squeeze over four yards a carry out of four of the five backs that started for the Colts this year.
But the team has struggled in the running game in recent years. The Colts ranked 29th at 92.7 rushing yards per game this season and failed to convert third-and-1 four times during a 17-16 home playoff loss to the New York Jets.
At least some of the problem has been attributed to the offensive line. Team president Bill Polian cited its substandard play after a loss to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV and he spoke of the need to upgrade the line on several occasions this season.
Then there were the running backs injuries: Addai missed eight games, Donald Brown three and Mike Hart nine.The firing had the look of scapegoating.
And what angers me about this whole thing is that rather than address the REAL problem here (the offensive line and the poor personnel decisions to fix it), what we have is, apparently, Jim Caldwell tossing all the blame at Huey.
I'd like to point out that this kind of 'scapegoating' would never have happened under Tony Dungy. If anything, Dungy would hold on to bad assistants for too long. In Caldwell's case, it seems he's willing to stop a nose bleed by chopping off his nose.
To say or suggest Huey was the reason for the poor rushing numbers the last two years is absurd. I'm personally not going to take anyone seriously who says or suggests that. If anyone should have been fired, it should have been Pete Metzelaars. If 'accountability' was the motive behind the firing, then Bill Polian (or maybe his son Chris) should have gotten the boot. They were the ones who thought cutting Ryan Lilja and drafting Tony Ugoh and Mike Pollak were all good ideas.
When it's all said and done, I simply do not like the slimy ooze that now flows in buckets from the West 56th Street complex. 'Accountability' is an empty phrase there now. No one wants to truly fix anything. They just want to point fingers and deflect blame; no real leadership.
I can tell you this, I guarantee you that Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, Mike Hart, and the rest of the backs are NOT happy about Huey getting jettisoned like this. Like Huey, they all likely thought he'd return in 2011. While these men are professionals and will do their job, resentment towards Caldwell could be bubbling after their beloved position coach was scapegoated for Polian and Caldwell's own failures.
Fortunately, the guy many of us wanted to become Indy's head coach in 2011 (Leslie Frazier), has already offered Huey the job of running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings. I hope Huey takes the job. He's a good man and a heckuva coach. The Vikings will benefit from his knowledge, and the Colts will likely regress with his absence.