Despite Widespread Criticism for the Move, Jeff Saturday is 1-0

The Frank Reich era ended in Indy just seven days ago. Following another loss that placed their record at 3-5-1. Indianapolis brought in Matt Ryan via a trade that many, including myself, said would turn this team around. It simply hasn’t panned out and led to the team moving on from Frank Reich who was hired following a Super Bowl Victory with the Eagles. In a move that shocked, and appalled the football world the Colts inexplicably hired Jeff Saturday as their interim Head Coach. 

Saturday Gets First Victory

In this game, the Colts had a last-second announcement switching back to Matt Ryan as the quarterback instead of Sam Ehlinger. The Colts’ offense had its struggles but still managed to draw first blood scoring on the fourth drive of the game, their second. After a trio of punts, the Colts scored a touchdown on a 13-play 6-minute, and 34-second drive. Jonathon Taylor had six carries and one reception and totaled 22 yards on the drive.

The Colts continued to lean on this game plan feeding Taylor early and often. He would collect 24 total touches for 163 yards and 1 touchdown. Matt Ryan shockingly had a great day after what has been a devastatingly bad start to his Colts career. He completed 21of 28 passes for 222 yards and 1 touchdown adding 4 carries. Yes, I said carries…for 38 yards and 1 touchdown. Something tells me Ryan remains the starter next week.

The game ball might have gone to Taylor, but the defense had a great performance. Derek Carr attempted 38 passes completing just 24. The defense batted 8 passes to the ground while producing 2 sacks. Zaire Franklin was all over the field collecting 10 total tackles. Kenny Moore and Rodney McLeod each had 7 tackles. There’s one thing to be said about the move to Saturday, this team played with a fire under them in this game.

Jeff Saturday’s Coaching Experience 

Anytime a coach is hired, everyone wants to discuss their experience. It turns out, Saturday’s only coaching experience has been as a Head Coach of a high school program. Spending the 2017-2020 seasons as the Head Coach for the Hebron Christian Academy. 

Some of my more analytical readers will be curious to know what his record was during this stint. Saturday collected a 20-16 record, but appeared in the playoffs every season, and won three playoff games. The thing is, Saturday turned down positions with the team in the past.

General manager Chris Ballard stated the Colts tried to hire Saturday as their offensive line coach in 2019, and again tried to bring him in before the 2022 season. It seems Irsay handpicked Saturday for the role and might have had him in mind as a “head coach in waiting” behind Reich before the 2022 season even began. 

History Is Being Made

Saturday becomes the first former player to join the Head Coaching ranks without previous experience at the college or pro level since Norm Van Brocklin in 1961. However for doubters out there Jim Irsay the owner defended the move by saying Saturday is auditioning for the job long term and could remain in the position after 2022. 

This entire situation is very odd, but the entire Colts organization has been in a state of disarray basically since the Andrew Luck’s retirement. First, they fire Chuck Pagano and try to hire Josh McDaniels. Then McDaniels backs out after even having collected a staff, for some unknown reason. The Colts pivoted hiring Frank Reich giving him 4 1/2 seasons to right the ship in Indy. 

He has cycled through quarterbacks year after year in hopes of finding his guy but it hasn’t happened. Whether it was Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, or even Sam Ehlinger the Colts simply never got up to speed under Reich. 

Future of the Colts Coach

Looking forward, it’s easy to see that Saturday is the long-term favorite for the job. Anytime the owner is backing you over more experienced options on the staff you clearly hold the advantage. The decision is odd but not because of Saturday.

This staff has former NFL head coaches Gus Bradley and John Fox, and a former CFL Head Coach Scott Milanovich who once played in the NFL, NFLEL, XFL, AFL, and CFL. There were also former players like Cato June, Reggie Wayne, or even former Jets great Kevin Mawae on the staff. 

Interesting Times in Indy

The thing that stands out to me is if you wanted a former Colts player that had head coaching experience even if it was at the high school level, Cato June was on staff. June had four seasons as a high school head coach to begin his coaching career. In 2016 he started coaching at the college level. After a stint with Bowling Green last season he joined the Colts in 2022. 

Very odd times in Indianapolis right now. But so far Jeff Saturday is 1-0 and showing that he might have been the right guy after all. The long-time center defeated noted offensive mind Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders 25-20. This somewhat shocking outcome pushed Josh McDaniels to a career record of 13-24 as a head coach. Now the focus turns to if McDaniels will survive a 2 win season with whispers of Sean Payton in the background. 

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