Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is not happy with the narrative that the team is tanking the 2022 season after hiring Jeff Saturday as interim head coach despite his inexperience.
The Athletic's Bob Kravitz reported Tuesday that Irsay called him and Fox 59's Mike Chappell to fire back at those who believe the Colts have called it quits midway through the season.
"That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard, that we're tanking," Irsay said. "That's bulls--t. We're in this thing; 9-7-1 get us in, no question about it. … We're not tanking the season."
The Colts shocked the NFL world when they fired head coach Frank Reich on Monday and replaced him with Saturday, who has never coached beyond the high school level. The former center had been acting as a consultant to Indianapolis this season after playing 13 years with the Colts (14 overall) and making five Pro Bowls (six total). He has been an analyst for ESPN since 2013.
Saturday inherited a team without an offensive play-caller after offensive coordinator Marcus Brady's firing last week. The Colts also have questions at quarterback as veteran Matt Ryan has been benched in favor of second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
Many believed starting Ehlinger was a sign Indianapolis was looking toward the future, but Irsay maintained the team still hopes to be competitive this year.
"Whoever says these things, that we're not playing Matt because [of an effort to tank], that's all bulls--t," Irsay said. "That’s not true. … We're going to do what it takes to win. I don't know who people think we are, they don't know us. We don't tank in Indianapolis."
To make matters more complicated, Irsay said Ehlinger is no longer locked in as the starter for the remainder of the year. He said the team could turn back to Ryan or goes with veteran backup Nick Foles:
"There was never a notion that you wouldn't go to Nick or Matt later in the season when (Ryan's) shoulder is healthy. They're all available to help us win, bottom line. … It's always been about whoever can help us win going forward. We're going with Sam, and if there's a notion for Jeff to make a change … that's Jeff's prerogative, and it was always Frank's prerogative. It's wrong to say I mandated it (the move to Ehlinger) and it's wrong to say they can't go to the other guy."
Saturday will make his head coaching debut when the Colts (3-5-1) visit the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6) on Sunday.