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Colts’ Jim Irsay introduces Jeff as interim coach Saturday: Everything you need to know from the team’s press conference

Colts’ Jim Irsay introduces Jeff as interim coach Saturday: Everything you need to know from the team’s press conference

The Colts made an unprecedented change at the head of their staff on Monday, firing coach Frank Reich and replacing him with Jeff Sabot, who is loved in Indianapolis as a franchise great but enters without a college or NFL coaching experience. A few hours later, team owner Jim Irsay officially welcomed on Saturdayformer Pro Bowl center, to his interim post alongside general manager Chris Ballard, declaring the new hire “fully capable” of becoming the Colts’ permanent head coach.

Here’s a recap of all the major topics covered during the team’s nearly 45-minute press conference:

When did the Colts call on Saturday with a job offer? After a moment of hesitation, Irsay revealed that he “picked up the phone” on Sunday night, just hours after Indy’s loss to Patriotsand less than 24 hours before Saturday’s arrival it was announced.

How did Saturday react to the offer? “It escalated quickly,” admitted the new coach. “He asked me and my wife, Karen. We talked about it, we prayed about it… It was a 12-hour whirlwind.”

Does Saturday understand the skepticism about his qualifications? “I would be shocked, too,” he said. “I’ll be honest, I asked Mr. Irsay, ‘Tell me why I’m a candidate you would consider for any role.’ … (But) I felt very prepared.” Saturday added that he spent about five years preparing to start his coaching career, learning with the Colts staff and previously with 49ers GM John Lynch.

Have the Colts considered other interim coaching candidates? No, Irsay said. “Not offered to anyone else.”

Is Subota a legitimate candidate for permanent coach? “There’s no question of permanency at this point,” Irsay said, adding that the Colts are “following the Rooney Rule to the letter” and will conduct a full interview process with additional candidates, including minorities, after the season. Much of Irsay’s comments, however, suggested Saturday was a long-term prospect: “Obviously we think he’s one of those candidates. . . . This is for eight games, hopefully more.”

Why should fans trust Irsay’s judgment here? “It’s an intuitive decision,” claims the owner. “When I hired Tony Dungy, it was done very methodically [sic]. Back then I wanted a proven playoff winning coach. … Now, I’m glad (Saturday) has no NFL experience. I’m glad he didn’t learn the fear that exists in this league. … (Coaches) are afraid, they go to analytics, and it becomes difficult. He doesn’t have that fear. (I) has a lot of experience. He knows this game inside and out.”

But really, why should fans believe him? “I don’t know how to make a sausage,” Irsay said. “I don’t know what goes into a sausage. But I know how to build a football team. Because I’ve been around for 52 years … I understand that (Saturday) is fully capable of this, and more than capable … You want to bet against this guy ? Put the money down, people. I love to see that. … We’re not building rockets to go to Mars. We’re not nuclear scientists. It’s a very simple job we do here: we cultivate winning cultures, we cultivate toughness, we live by our integrity, and we expect nothing more than we expect from ourselves.”

Does Saturday foreshadow a real future as a head coach? He must know. The former center made it clear he had to earn the respect of the Colts locker room during his eight-game stint replacing Reich, but expressed confidence in his potential. “I’m auditioning not just for this one,” he said, “but for 31 more.” He also feels personally “called” to the occasion, he said.

Have the Colts ever rushed a Saturday before? Yes, “several times,” according to Ballard, first in 2019 as the offensive line coach and then again in 2022. Saturday added that she has been “consulting here for several years” with Reich and Ballard.

What are the quarterback’s immediate plans for Saturday? Sam Ehlinger will remain the starter for Week 10 vs Raiderswith Matt Ryan remains on the bench.

Where is Ballard in all this? There is “no doubt” the GM will return in 2023, according to Irsay, and will be part of the offseason search for a permanent head coach. “You guys can try to downplay (Ballard) all you want,” Irsay said, even comparing to NBA legend Michael Jordan. “The man is the winner.”

Amidst the chaotic nature of this process, why should Colts fans be optimistic? “I’ve never hired a losing head coach,” Irsay said, repeatedly touting his team’s record since 2000. “We’re better than most of them. It’s as simple as that. Our record proves it over a period of time.”





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