According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, while team owner Jim Irsay had clear conviction in hiring new interim head coach Jeff Saturday earlier this week, other members of the Indianapolis Colts’ top brass—including team president Pete Ward and general manager Chris Ballard, initially expressed their reservations:
“Colts president Pete Ward and general manager Chris Ballard, among others, spoke with Irsay and expressed their reservations, sources say,” write Rapoport and Pelissero. “The Colts have former head coaches John Fox and Gus Bradley on staff, as well as a rising star in special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone. But sources say Irsay was hellbent on hiring Saturday, who revealed that Irsay called him during a last Sunday’s loss to the Patriots to ask about Indianapolis’ problems on the offensive line.”
While Ballard had some high praise on Saturday regarding his leadership qualities during Monday’s introductory press conference, he also appeared visibly agitated throughout the call and alluded to ‘spirited’ discussions with Irsay prior to Saturday’s eventual hire:
“After the game yesterday (this past Sunday), Mr. Irsay and I visited, and it was spirited—like they can be,” Ballard said on Monday during the presser. “Because we’re both passionate about what we do, and then last night, when I arrived back in Indy, we talked about Jeff.”
None of this is hardly surprising.
Irsay made an out-of-the-box unprecedented hire by bringing on new interim head coach Jeff Saturday after less than 24 hours of firing former head coach Frank Reich.
Even though Saturday was a locker room leader of those great ‘Peyton Manning’ era Colts’ perennial AFC juggernauts and had a great playing career, as a 4x NFL All-Pro, 6x Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl Champion for Indianapolis—eventually making the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2015, he still has 0 head coaching experience beyond the high school level.
While he visited Colts training camp this past offseason, he also did not have a full offseason to acclimate himself to all of his players, coaching staff, the playbook, and schemes and inherits a once proud Indy offensive line that looks broken—meaning he’s already behind the 8-ball as far as turning this season’s results around.
Irsay could look like a genius by hiring Saturday when it’s all said and done, but it could also look like a desperation move made out of impulse, passion, and impatience—if things head further south for the franchise.