INDIANAPOLIS- Jeff Saturday’s two months as the Indianapolis Colts have been moving further from their expectations are not a reason to lose heart or change his career plans.
Where?When?I’ll be there.
That title evaporated the second the Colts –
Colts over the final eight games – completed their maddening descent with Sunday’s 32-31 loss to the Houston Texans.
Officially, he’s back to being a team consultant.
More to the point, Saturday wants the job title that was in the dark recesses of his mind when owner Jim Irsay went a thousand miles outside the box and named him his interim head coach Nov. 7, the day he fired Frank Reich.
No interview has been set up with Irsay, but it undoubtedly will come.
Jeff Saturday’s response will be threefold.
I’ll be there.The 1-7 finish that completed the 4-12-1 spiral; the first seven-game losing streak to end a season since 1953, the franchise’s first season in the NFL; the indelible moments – at New England, at Dallas, at Minnesota, at the New York Giants, the closing loss at home to Houston; we won’t bore you with the ugly details – didn’t convince Saturday he was better off returning to ESPN.“It has not changed my mind,” he said Monday afternoon.
It’s clear Saturday already has pivoted from taking over a struggling 3-5-1 outfit in early November to entertaining thoughts of inheriting one that’s heading into a critical offseason and clutching the 4
overall pick in the April draft.
Just listen to him.
“If I get this job,” he said, “there is going to be significant change. He said that his way of doing things is different from the traditional way. My way is my way.
” As the head coach of an organization, it would be my responsibility to think about how you want to lead it. I was thrust into the way things were done in the past for many years when I arrived. . . it will look different.”
He was just getting started.“Listen, I have a very clear vision how I can turn this football team around,” Saturday said. “I have a plan of attack, that I understand this is what I believe has to happen for us to turn a corner.”There were few details because they are the topic of conversation when Saturday sits across the table from Irsay. There were some. He will hire offensive and defense coordinators, and let them do their jobs.
Saturday isn’t like many analysts or outside observers.
They have won four of their 19 previous games and had the worst division record since 2002 when the AFC South was created. Saturday laughed, saying that they are not as far away as you think. “I have seen some articles here recently so I can guarantee you that there were a lot more shots fired.
I don’t believe we’re as far as you guys think. I think the line in football between winning and losing is very narrow.”
Evidence to the contrary: the Colts finished with a league-worst minus-138 point differential. The Colts had a minus-87 rating during Saturday’s eight-game “audition”. This would make it the fifth-worst differential in the league for the entire season.
More proof: the Colts had a league record of 34 turnovers and allowed 60 sacks, which is second in the league. The first priority would be to build a strong coaching staff.
Saturday believes that he has learned from the past two month and that he and Chris Ballard can turn the tide. Building a strong coaching team would be the first priority.
Some players were impressed with Saturday’s handling a difficult situation – Marcus Brady having been fired, quarterback Marcus Brady being taken over midseason and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady being fired. “I don’t believe you can have Jeff with your current staff. Frank was the only man on the current staff. That’s a constant reminder of who used to be here.”
Kelly was impressed by Saturday’s authenticity.
“There’s things he doesn’t know and he’s the first to admit that,” he said. “As a player you love to hear that. NFL players are able to smell BS more than anyone else. It’s easy to see it on someone’s face.
“You have to be respectful of that. I think everybody did.”
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner spent extra time with Saturday during Monday’s exit interviews.
“I told him I think he has all the qualities of being a great head coach,” he said. He is a great leader and a leader of men. Just the culture and the accountability he brought to the team over the last eight weeks of the season was tremendous.”
Linebacker Shaquille Leonard agreed. He was asked if he wanted Saturday to return.
“Yes,” he replied without hesitation. Jeff did a remarkable job of holding men accountable when he came in. His leadership style is amazing. I love the way that he brought this team together.
“People got to understand, man, he was brought in week (10) if I’m not mistaken. These coaches were not something he knew.
His attitude and his commitment to the guys is admirable. It doesn’t matter what your status is. He is on you, and that’s the kind of leadership you need to be a coach. It doesn’t matter who the coach is. That is what I value in a coach. I love when coaches are on guys and pushing them to be their best, man, and that’s what we need.”
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