The Indianapolis Colts' decision to make Jeff Saturday their interim head coach after firing Frank Reich was one of the most shocking ones in recent NFL history, but the former player may keep the job in 2023 even though the AFC South team has struggled under his watch.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Colts owner Jim Irsay "remains a big fan of Saturday" despite the team's 1-5 record since he took over. "Saturday absolutely will be a candidate for the full-time job, and if he can put together the right staff, especially on offense, he shouldn't be counted out."
Saturday may have to compete with a marquee name when it comes to the coaching search.
Zak Keefer of The Athletic reported multiple league sources are "convinced" Irsay would like to hire Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played for the Colts during his NFL career as a quarterback.
While Harbaugh has won the Big Ten and made the College Football Playoff two years in a row, he also has experience as an NFL coach with the San Francisco 49ers. He went 44-19-1 in four seasons from 2011 through 2014 and reached one Super Bowl, although he lost to his brother John's Baltimore Ravens.
Rapoport and Pelissero pointed out that even though Irsay "has an affinity for Harbaugh," the team's structure where the head coach reports to the general manager and the general manager then reports to the owner may not "appeal to coaching candidates who want more control."
Given his track record and name recognition, Harbaugh may be one of those coaches who prefer more control.
That could give Saturday the inside track despite his lack of coaching experience at the college or NFL level prior to assuming the interim role. He is a franchise icon who played center for the Colts for 13 seasons from 1999 through 2011 before finishing his career with one season on the Green Bay Packers.
He was a Super Bowl champion, six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection and may now be tasked with helping the franchise bounce back from a disappointing campaign as the full-time head coach depending on how the search unfolds.