Jeff Saturday wants to be considered for the Colts HC job

INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts ended the season on a seven-game losing streak, with three of those losses being 17 points or more and the most recent loss to the Houston Texans coming with three wins.

But interim coach Jeff Saturday, who oversaw that stretch, still thinks he can make a compelling case for getting the job on a permanent basis.

Hired Saturday mid-season following the fifth-year sacking of coach Frank Reich, it was clear Monday he still wants to be considered permanently for the job. He also seemed to shrug off criticism of the lack of results during his eight-game stint.

“If you say ‘eight-game audition,'” Saturday replied to a reporter’s question, “it was an eight-game audition with half an offensive staff [and] limits. It’s an eight-game audition with the hand you get, right? How do you deal with that? Hopefully I’ve shown my leadership. … I wish we were better than 1-7. Everyone in that locker room and everyone here, it makes all our jobs a lot easier when you win, right? Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I won’t let that put me off.”

The mention of the Colts’ staff was an apparent reference to the team’s earlier firing of offensive coordinator Marcus Brady and the recent departure of tight ends coach Klayton Adams, who left to become Stanford’s offensive line coach. Additionally, Reich was the team’s offensive playcaller, a job that fell to assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier after Reich was fired.

Saturday said he was already eyeing potential employees should he get the job. He also said he would make significant changes in 2023 that he hasn’t been able to make this season that could have a positive impact.

“It’s going to be a different direction and a different vision that I’m carrying out,” he said, “one that’s my own that I can implement and move forward with.”

Although Saturday’s 2022 results could appear to put him at a major disadvantage for landing the job, Colts owner Jim Irsay has said on numerous occasions that he is in contention. Irsay recently told ESPN that Saturday was “an excellent candidate.” Saturday’s close personal relationship with Irsay cannot be ignored either. The Colts have committed to conducting a full coaching search in the coming weeks, which multiple sources say will be led by general manager Chris Ballard.

When asked about the success of Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks, who went 6-6 and nearly won the NFC South, Saturday said his situation was different.

“I’d rather believe a guy comes in after nine weeks and walks into a room with a short offensive staff and a guy [Wilks] Whoever comes in and been together for this long should have another hit, right?” Saturday said.

Saturday has some support in the dressing room. All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard said, “I think when Jeff came in he did a phenomenal job of holding people accountable. I love the way he leads. I love the way he brought this team together.”

The Colts hit their lowest tally on Saturday, their seven straight losses becoming the team’s fifth-longest losing streak of the team’s Indianapolis era (since 1984). The team had a minus 87 point differential Saturday (the second-worst by this stretch) and gave up the biggest win in league history when the Minnesota Vikings came up 33 points behind to beat them on Dec. 17.

How far are the Colts from being competitive?

“Not nearly as far as you all think,” Saturday said. “I’ve seen some articles here recently, so I can assure you [there have been] many shots fired. I don’t think we’re anywhere near where you think we are.”

Elsewhere, Colts quarterback Matt Ryan spoke about his future, saying he has no immediate plans to retire. Ryan, who has been benched twice by the Colts this season, is signed through next season and guaranteed at least $18 million. If the Colts keep him on the roster in 2023, Ryan will count more than $35 million towards their salary cap.

The Colts, who have the fourth pick in the draft, are widely expected to pick a quarterback in April and keep Ryan in the flux.

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