Colts Legend Jeff Saturday Named Interim HC After Frank Reich's Firing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 7, 2022

Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday speaks to fans after he was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor during halftime of an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

The Indianapolis Colts named former center Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach Monday.

This comes after the team fired head coach Frank Reich, who had led the Colts to a 3-5-1 record this season.

Saturday spent 13 seasons with the Colts, making 197 appearances, and finished his career with the Green Bay Packers. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro.

Indianapolis' decision to make Saturday the head coach, even on an interim basis, is a shock. He has no experience as an NFL head coach, having turned down the opportunity in 2019 to become the Colts' offensive line coach:

Field Yates @FieldYates

As best as I can tell, Jeff Saturday becomes the first person in NFL history to be named a head coach without any coaching experience at either the NFL or college level. <br><br>He now takes over in Indy.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero noted the Rooney Rule doesn't come into play whenever a team is hiring an interim head coach. Still, the optics aren't good when Saturday bypasses the line to this degree.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From NFL Now: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Colts</a> hire Jeff Saturday as their interim coach, a move that no doubt highly qualified candidates who are minorities have noted. <a href="https://t.co/BU0RgY35LX">pic.twitter.com/BU0RgY35LX</a>

The Athletic's Zak Keefer also highlighted a few internal candidates who would've been better suited to succeed Reich:

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

The Colts bypass two former NFL head coaches already on staff — Gus Bradley, John Fox — and a rising head-coaching candidate in Bubba Ventrone, to name former center Jeff Saturday the interim coach.<br><br>That is a real sentence.

The Colts have now benched Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger, a move that made an ailing offense even worse. Indianapolis mustered just 121 total yards and averaged 2.0 yards per play in Sunday's 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

Now the franchise has jettisoned Reich, someone with two playoff trips in his first four years, for a replacement about to embark on his first coaching gig.

It sure looks like Indianapolis is waving the white flag and focusing on draft position.

In the case of Saturday, the plan might go beyond bringing back a fan favorite to build goodwill for a time, though, per Keefer:

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

From what I've heard, wouldn't be stunned if this is more of an audition for Jeff Saturday than your typical interim role.<br><br>As in: Colts want to see if he could be the full-time answer at head coach. Why else go outside the building with other qualified candidates?

For 13 years, the Colts had one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history in Peyton Manning. Then they tanked their way into another generational talent at QB, Andrew Luck. Their combined presence was a stabilizing force for the organization, and Luck's sudden retirement in 2019 has allowed Indianapolis' internal dysfunction to slowly rise to the fore.

That was initially symbolized by the team's revolving door at quarterback. Monday's coaching change will raise further concerns about the Colts' long-term direction.