The Indianapolis Colts wasted no time naming a new interim head coach, just hours after firing former head coach Frank Reich.
Bubba Ventrone? No.
Gus Bradley? No.
John Fox? No.
Even Reggie Wayne? No.
Insert former franchise center great, and new Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday, who played from 1999-2011 for the Horseshoe and became a 4x NFL All-Pro, 6x NFL Pro Bowler, and Super Bowl Champion in Indianapolis—and was later inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2015.
No NFL coaching experience?
It doesn’t matter.
Saturday’s highest level of coaching was high school football, coaching Hebron Christian Academy in Georgia, from 2017-20.
Sure, Saturday was a highly regarded locker room leader, top teammate, and chief motivator of those consistently perennial AFC juggernaut Colts teams—along with Peyton Manning and the rest of that star-studded gang.
This isn’t Jeff Saturday pulling a “Kevin Mawae”, as a former NFL All-Pro center himself, who’s Indy’s current assistant offensive line coach and working his way up the coaching ranks. It’s not even Reggie Wayne as the Colts wide receivers coach—as a beloved assistant and always a fan favorite, aiding young receivers like Alec Pierce’s development.
Saturday jumped those rungs on the coaching ladder and is now inexplicably the interim head coach of the Colts.
Yes, Saturday has a longstanding history with team owner Jim Irsay and the Colts franchise, but hiring the ex-ESPN analyst is truly stunning.
We’re talking floored.
This isn’t Saturday even joining the Colts coaching staff as its new offensive line coach or an offensive line consultant to help fix a struggling offensive line’s play. He’s now the guy on the Colts sidelines calling the final shots.
Spend an entire training camp and an offseason with the Colts, getting to know any of the other coaches, players, playbook, or schemes?
To me, this looks nothing more like a glorified PR stunt and Hail Mary by the Colts as a way to get Saturday a jumpstart on NFL coaching gigs for the future and saving face—if not encouraging positivity, among the franchise’s fans by bringing in a former beloved player.
By making this move, Indianapolis is finally waving the white flag on the season and hoping to get a top NFL Draft pick to find their next franchise quarterback, after recent consecutive seasons of failed quarterback options.
So Saturday serving as interim head coach may not even matter any more than being an energetic and motivating sideline mascot of sorts.
Move over, Blue.
That being said, given the lack of his professional coaching experience, little to no recent active involvement with the team, and the fact that he is one of Irsay’s ‘guys’ personally, and the term ‘amateur’ keeps coming to mind for a professional football franchise that should be so far removed from something like this.
Yes, it may not ultimately matter in the win-loss column overall (i.e., the Colts are essentially punting the rest of this season regardless), but it’s still not a great look for the franchise as far as public perception goes and how well run the organization is right now (especially after what just happened with longtime Atlanta Falcons veteran and former NFL MVP Matt Ryan being unceremoniously benched, so quickly).
Most pro teams value stability and continuity, not making whimsical moves with little sustenance to logically back them because they like or trust the guy personally.
Public perception can be a valuable recruiting tool down the road, or on the other hand, can hinder a lot of meaningful efforts in the future.
Maybe this shocking move will later have me ‘eat my words’, but I expect this Colts ‘Hail Mary’ to fall well short of the goal line given the surrounding circumstances.