Frank Reich Out, Jeff Saturday in as Indianapolis Colts Interim Head Coach
Wow. Just wow.
Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with the news coming out of Indianapolis Colts headquarters today. So, let's just start with the last two weeks for the team which has been crazy, wild, perplexing, and flabergasting all rolled into one, like they took a little bit of each, threw them in a blender, hit the pureé button, and walked away with the lid off. First, they bench veteran quarterback Matt Ryan who they traded for in the offseason in favor of second-year QB Sam Ehlinger who looked great in preseason action but hadn't thrown a pass in a regular season NFL game ever. Then earlier today (Monday, November 7th, 2022), they announce the firing of head coach Frank Reich. A few hours later they announce his replacement for the remainder of the season will be former player, Jeff Saturday. Insert mind-blown emoji here.
Jeff Saturday Named Interim Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts
The decision to bench Matt Ryan was a little shocking, but not surprising considering how poorly Ryan and the rest of the offense had played up to that point. You might as well see what you have in Ehlinger and see if that sparks something with the team.
The decision to fire Reich was only surprising in the fact that just over a week ago, NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reported that owner Jim Irsay said Reich's job was safe. But when the team has looked as lifeless as it has the past two games since those comments, and currently sits with a 3-5-1 record (which frankly, they're lucky it's not worse), I can see how Irsay's mind changed quickly. As a fan, I like Reich, and for his first few years I thought the team had a coach in place who would be there for years to come, but between the way last season ended and the first half of this season has started, it was in the team's best interest to move forward without him.
What is surprising, shocking, jaw-dropping, or whatever you want to call it, is that this man is now the head coach (for the time being, anyway).
Don't get me wrong, like most Colts fans, I like Jeff Saturday a lot. He was one of the cornerstones of the 10+ years the team was a consistent Super Bowl contender, and from what I've read and heard, knows the game well, and is an all-around good dude. But, Irsay's decision to make him interim head coach is mind-boggling considering the team has two people on its coaching staff with previous head coaching experience; current Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and Senior Defensive Assistant John Fox. Both of whom have coached at the college level and in the NFL for decades.
As Charlie Clifford, sports anchor for WISH-TV in Indianapolis noted on Twitter after the news dropped, Jeff Saturday cannot say the same.
The hiring seems to have come out of nowhere. Since retiring nearly 10 years ago, Saturday has worked as an analyst for ESPN, making appearances on their various programs, and "has consulted for the Colts over the last few years," according to the team's website. They also note that he visited the team's training camp this year. Well, I visited the team's training camp a few times when it was held at Rose Hulman University. Does that mean I can be the Offensive Coordinator? They currently need one of those too.
The news of Saturday's hiring has not only shocked the outside football world, it apparently shocked people within the organization too as noted by Zak Keefer who covers the team for The Athletic.
So, What Now?
Who knows? Maybe Irsay is hoping with Saturday and Reggie Wayne on the coaching staff (the latter of which was hired as the Wide Receivers coach in the offseason), he can lure Peyton Manning into taking over the General Manager role currently held by Chris Ballard. Maybe he can get Edgerrin James to take over as running backs coach and Dwight Freeny or Robert Mathis to coach the defensive line. What's Bob Sanders up to these days? Let's get him in there to coach the defensive backs. Maybe Irsay's grand plan is to bring in all the star players from the Super Bowl 41 season as coaches to see if it recreates the magic of that year.
Despite their record, the Colts aren't technically out of the playoff hunt yet. But, the likelihood they'll make it in is microscopically small which is being generous. Irsay knows this, but he's a competitive guy who loves the game of football, loves his team, and wants nothing more than to bring more championship trophies to Indianapolis. My guess is he doesn't view putting Saturday in this position as giving up on the season. He likely still has hope the current players can turn things around, so why not bring in one of the guys who was an integral part of the franchise's most successful days to try and make it happen?
Today's decision will, and already has, found Irsay being labeled by people on social media as crazy and off his meds, but what if this decision winds up falling into the "It's So Crazy, It Just Might Work" category? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
The team has scheduled a press conference for tonight (Monday) at 7:30 PM Eastern / 6:30 PM Central to formally introduce Saturday as the new coach which may give us some answers as to how they came to this decision.
[Sources: NFL / Charlie Clifford via Twitter / Zak Keefer via Twitter / Colts.com]
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