New Details Emerge About Jim Irsay Hiring Jeff Saturday, And Colts Fans Should Be Concerned

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1) owner Jim Irsay reportedly went against advice from top executives within the organization in hiring team legend Jeff Saturday as interim head coach.

Per Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, it’s the latest power move in what has a been month full of them for Irsay. Sources tell both Rapoport and Pelissero that Irsay drove the benching of veteran quarterback Matt Ryan in favor of 2021 sixth-round selection Sam Ehlinger. The move at quarterback came two weeks before Irsay pulled the plug on the Frank Reich era, firing the head coach Monday after a 40-33-1 mark over four-plus seasons.

Colts president Pete Ward and general manager Chris Ballard had reservations with bringing in Saturday — who has zero professional or collegiate coaching experience — as the team’s interim head coach. Indianapolis has two former head coaches on its staff in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and senior defensive assistant John Fox. The latter took two teams to the Super Bowl during his time as a head coach.

Irsay, however, was hellbent on hiring Saturday, who appeared in five Pro Bowls as a member of the Colts. But this is a completely different venture, one in which Saturday is lacking in experience. Saturday briefly served as head football coach at Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Georgia, from 2017-20. He guided the team to a 20-16 record.

Saturday’s NFL coaching debut will come in a Week 10 road tilt Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6). Ehlinger will get the start for a third consecutive week, with his third different offensive coordinator. Pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier is set to serve as the offensive play caller. The 30-year-old has never called plays or been in a role higher than an assistant.

Colts Interim HC Jeff Saturday Ready to Embark on New Challenge

Saturday, 47, spoke to the media Wednesday after his first team meeting. He reiterated his love for the Colts and said he won’t back down from the challenge.

“Here’s the deal,” Saturday said. “Everybody talks about my [inexperience]. I’m completely comfortable in who I am as a man. I know I can lead men. I know the game of football and I’m passionate about it. … Bro, I spent 14 years in a locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I got five dudes in the Hall of Fame that played with [me]. You don’t think I’ve seen greatness? You don’t think I’ve seen how people prepare, how they coach, how they [manage], how they work?

“I mean, won a Super Bowl, been to two. Here’s the deal, man. None of us are promised a good job. I may be terrible at this and, after eight games, I’ll say, ‘God bless you. I’m no good.’ I may be really good at it. I’ve got no idea, but I dang sure ain’t going to back down.”