Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday details Jim Irsay’s pursuit, ready for ‘challenge’: ‘I know I can lead men’

Jeff Saturday’s newfound duties as Colts interim head coach kicked off Wednesday following his first meeting with the team.

“I thought it went well,” Saturday told reporters. “Great to see guys and meet people. Tried to let them know what I’m about; what my expectations are, what they can expect from me. I thought that went really well. Look, I’ve got to earn their trust — there’s no doubt about that — I’m not trying to diminish how important that is. That’s going to take time. That’s not going to happen in one meeting.”

Saturday had yet to conduct his first real practice as Colts coach but, as if Monday night’s long and winding press conference¬†announcing his hiring wasn’t enough, he spent much of Wednesday’s media availability explaining how he landed the gig.

According to Saturday, Colts owner Jim Irsay initially called him while Frank Reich’s team was in the midst of Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots. However, Saturday was adamant that the interim coaching role was not discussed at that time.

“He was just upset,” said Saturday, who has been a paid consultant by the Colts. “He was asking me what was going on. This was not about Frank.”

Saturday said Irsay offered him the opportunity of coaching during the late hours of that Sunday night, calling the whole development a “whirlwind.”

Reich, of course, was fired by Irsay the following Monday after the team’s third straight loss. Much to the surprise of everyone, including Saturday himself, the former Colts center was announced and introduced as Reich’s interim replacement later that evening.

Controversy immediately surrounded the hiring of Saturday for multiple reasons. Saturday’s experience coaching is limited to three seasons in high school (2017-2019), and he’s believed to be the first former player with no college or pro coaching experience to be named a head coach since Pro Football Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin became the Minnesota Vikings’ first head coach in 1961. Saturday had been an in-studio NFL analyst for ESPN since 2013.

Saturday’s lack of coaching experience wasn’t a hang-up for the Colts, apparently, but with the league doing its best to fix its shortage of minority coaching hires, questions of how this could happen soon followed. NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported upon Saturday’s hiring that the NFL’s Rooney Rule does not apply to an interim head coach during the season, but the Colts will have to adhere with the hiring standard after the 2022 season.

“I’ll address, I’m know the question I’m sure is going to be asked. The Rooney Rule,” said Saturday. “I’ll be honest with you, it’s an important rule. I do not diminish it one second. I believe and understand fully why it is as important as it is. I don’t minimize, this is important. My role here is for eight games. When this is over, they’ll do an exhaustive search and pick whoever their best candidate is to be the head coach of the Colts. If I’m considered, I’d be honored. I have no idea where this thing is going to go. Not even a little bit.

“But I can assure you that’s going to be handled. From the organization’s perspective. From my perspective as a man. Here’s the deal: I’m completely comfortable in who I am as a man. I know I can lead men. I know I know the game of football, and I’m passionate about it. I have no fear about are you as qualified as somebody else. Bro, I spent 14 years in a locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I’ve 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 GM? How they work? I’ve won (one Super Bowl), been to two. Here’s the deal. 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 am no good.’ I could be really good at it. I got no idea. But I dang sure won’t back down. I can tell you that.

“If life ain’t an adventure, it ain’t for me. I’m ready to go do this. I take a challenge head-on. Listen, everybody can say whatever they want, and I appreciate that. But from my perspective, when I was asked, they said, ‘We’re following every rule, at the end of the season you aren’t promised anything.’ Perfect. Let’s go with that. I have no fear. If I’m no good and Mr. Irsay looks at me and says, ‘We appreciate ya. Thanks for stepping in. Man, job well done,’ I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Saturday confirmed on Wednesday that Parks Frazier will indeed call offensive plays for the Colts going forward, as reported by NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero. Frazier, who had been the Colts pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach, will be calling plays for the first time in his young career.

“We’re all going to be involved in helping Parks call the right plays,” he said.

Indianapolis is taking extravagant measures in an effort to save its 2022 season. The Colts’ roster had been improved upon following a disappointing 2021, but the quarterback they traded for in the offseason, Matt Ryan, has since been benched and their young offensive coordinator was fired in the lead-up to Reich’s dismissal. Forging the talent they do have into a viable team going forward will be left up to a novice coach with his name gracing the Colts Ring of Honor.

Asked simply on Wednesday why he’d take on such a task, Saturday’s passionate reply was likely what Irsay had in my mind to save the Colts.

“Because I care. I told the guys this morning; I care about the players, I care about their families, I’ve sat in their seat, man. This (losing) sucks,” said Saturday. “…These are my people. My adult life was forged here. My wife and I raised our kids here, these people matter to me, this organization matters tome, the people in the community matter to me. Everybody thinks is like flippant — this is not. I care, whatever I can do. When he said, ‘Hey, can you help me?’ Absolutely I’ll help.”

The Colts (3-5-1) are on the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6) this Sunday.

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