Jim Irsay

Jim Irsay Still Pushing For Jeff Saturday Hire; Eric Bieniemy, Raheem Morris In Mix

The Colts lost seven of their final eight games, finishing 4-12-1. The team had not lost seven games to close out a campaign since its inaugural season in 1953. But Jim Irsay still looks to be pushing to keep Jeff Saturday, the interim head coach he stunned the NFL by hiring in November.

Saturday is going through his second interview Wednesday, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, who adds as many as seven candidates will advance to the second round of interviews (Twitter link). That list includes Ejiro Evero, and ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano tweets Rams DC Raheem Morris will receive an in-person meeting. The Colts held virtual interviews with 13 candidates — the most of any HC-seeking team this year — but Irsay was not involved in those sessions. He will be there for the second interviews.

Irsay said in November he hoped Saturday would stay on as a full-time HC, and although no team has made an interim coach a full-time hire since the Jaguars removed Doug Marrone‘s interim tag in 2017, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson notes Irsay is still pushing for Saturday. More pushback has emerged, however. Just as Irsay confidants attempted to dissuade him from hiring Saturday two months ago, Anderson adds (via Twitter) those close to the owner are again attempting to convince him Saturday is the wrong choice.

Indianapolis should also be expected to meet with Eric Bieniemy and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone for a second time. Each remains in the mix, Graziano adds, though no second interviews with either have been scheduled. Bieniemy has generated extensive OC interest around the league, being connected to open jobs and likely on the radar for some that will soon be available, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes the longtime Chiefs OC is focused on potential HC gigs. Only the Colts, however, have interviewed him for their job.

Some around the league believe this will come down to Bieniemy or Saturday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds. Considering the backlash both the Saturday hire and Bieniemy’s extended time on the HC carousel have each generated, the Colts choosing Saturday in that instance would create more controversy.

Andy Reid has been the Chiefs’ primary play-caller since 2013, and while Bieniemy has been labeled as a poor interviewer at points during his long run as Reid’s right-hand man, the fifth-year OC has been in place in this role throughout Patrick Mahomes‘ QB1 stay. Considering Mahomes is about to win a second MVP award and will do so after the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill, that should reflect well on Bieniemy. Judging by the Arizona, Carolina, Denver and Houston searches, however, teams are not closely connecting the Reid lieutenant to such success. Bieniemy and Colts GM Chris Ballard worked together during the latter’s time in the Chiefs’ front office, though Fowler adds the Saturday-Irsay relationship continues to loom over this process.

Ballard ran the first set of Colts HC interviews, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes, adding that Carlie Irsay-Gordon (Jim’s daughter) has played a key role throughout this process as well. Ballard attempted to talk Irsay out of the Saturday hire in November and admitted as much this month. It should be expected the seventh-year GM will keep pushing for a different hire, but Irsay obviously will make the final call. This process should drag into next week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link).

Saturday promised extensive changes if he were to land the full-time job. He offered ex-Frank Reich staffers Scott Milanovich and Scottie Montgomery OC duties, but each turned down the job. That led to assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier receiving the opportunity. The Colts started three QBs during Saturday’s stay (Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger) but only won one game under interim coach. The team’s NFL-record collapse in Minnesota and other shaky performances did not exactly give Saturday momentum coming out of the season. If Irsay bucks staffers’ advice and goes in this direction again, it would make for one of the most interesting decisions in coaching history.

Ejiro Evero Set For Second Colts Interview

Two offseasons ago, the Rams promoted Ejiro Evero from safeties coach — his role from 2017-20 — to their defensive backs coach. This offseason, two teams are seriously considering him for head coaching positions.

The Broncos’ defensive coordinator has made it to the finalist stage with the Texans and now the Colts. Indianapolis wants to bring Evero in for a second HC interview, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Texans plan to interview him for a second time Wednesday, setting up a tour of multiple AFC South facilities for the fast-rising DC.

This has been a remarkable stretch for Evero, and considering the Broncos’ situation, the one-year DC’s climb has veered toward unusual. Denver went 5-12 this year, with its decision to hire Nathaniel Hackett backfiring to the point the team ranked last offensively despite trading for Russell Wilson. Hackett brought in his longtime friend to be his right-hand man on defense, and Evero’s unit performed well despite injuries and the midseason trade of Bradley Chubb.

Despite firing acclaimed defensive maestro Vic Fangio, the Broncos improved in total defense — from eighth to seventh — this past season and ranked 10th in DVOA. While Denver is conducting its own HC search — after becoming the third team since the 1970 merger to fire a coach before his first season ended — Evero will have the chance to earn a top job elsewhere. The Broncos interviewed Evero but have been linked to preferring Sean Payton and Dan Quinn. Though, no Denver finalists have emerged yet. The Colts have been the only team not to set up a Payton interview.

Evero, 42, is the first known Colts finalist. Others will follow. Thirteen coaches have interviewed — all doing so virtually — thus far, and Pelissero adds Jim Irsay was not in any of these meetings (video link). Irsay will meet with each of the finalists in person. Considering Irsay’s outsized role in personnel moves over the past year, his presence in these meetings will be rather important — for both parties.

QB Rumors: Packers, Carr, Burrow, Colts

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to play in 2023, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). Fowler cites the ~$60MM balloon payment that Rodgers is due between March and the start of the 2023 regular season as a motivating factor for the four-time MVP, and assuming he does want to suit up, Green Bay will have to decide if it wants him back or wants to seek a trade.

The club’s top power brokers, GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur, have publicly indicated they want Rodgers back in Wisconsin, which could — in Fowler’s estimation — force Jordan Love to request a trade. The 2020 first-rounder believes he is ready to become a QB1, and as he is entering the final year of his rookie deal, now would be a good time for him to get that chance.

Here are more QB rumors from around the league:

  • In the same piece linked above, Fowler says that the Derek Carr sweepstakes will start to heat up as we get closer to the Super Bowl. Carr, whose contract with the Raiders includes a no-trade clause, is beginning to do his homework on possible landing spots, and Fowler hears (unsurprisingly) that the Jets, Saints, and Commanders are expected to have interest. Several clubs have already reached out to Las Vegas to lay the groundwork for trade talks.
  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be eligible for an extension when Cincinnati’s season comes to an end, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the club wants to get a new deal done this offseason. A Burrow extension will be hugely expensive, and owner Mike Brown and Burrow himself acknowledged the challenges that such a deal creates for roster construction (via Ben Baby of ESPN.com). Of course, the Bengals will have to operate within the same salary cap confines as every other team in the league, but as Rapoport observes, the small-market franchise does have more cash on hand these days thanks in large part to the success that the team has enjoyed with Burrow under center.
  • In a comprehensive piece that is well-worth a read for Colts fans, a piece that details owner Jim Irsay‘s increasingly impulsive decision-making and the ensuing fallout, Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required) says that Irsay wanted to draft and develop a rookie QB in the 2021 draft. However, then-head coach Frank Reich convinced Irsay that he could resuscitate Carson Wentz‘s career. When that experiment went awry, Irsay began to lose faith in Reich, who apologized to his boss for his misstep. The team again opted for an established passer last offseason when it engineered the Matt Ryan trade, and in light of that failure, Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required) believes Indianapolis is finally going to eschew the veteran QB route. The Colts, armed with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 draft, are in prime position to select a top collegiate signal-caller and could trade up to land the player of their choice.
  • Dolphins GM Chris Grier recently confirmed reports that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023, as Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald writes. Grier says the medical professionals he has consulted have told him that the concussions Tagovailoa suffered this season will not make him more prone to concussions going forward. He also said “everything’s on the table for us” when asked if the team would exercise Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for 2024 and/or engage in extension talks.
  • The Jets may keep 2021 first-rounder Zach Wilson on the roster in 2023, but the team is widely expected to pursue a veteran like Carr or Rodgers to upgrade the quarterback position. Apparently, that will be a welcome development for some of Wilson’s teammates and coaches, who “rejoiced” when Wilson was benched in favor of Mike White in November and who were disappointed when Wilson was reinserted into the lineup following White’s rib injuries (via Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic (subscription required)). Regardless of whether Wilson’s apologies to his teammates in the wake of his failure to accept much blame for his poor performance in New York’s Week 11 loss to the Patriots helped him regain the respect of the locker room, the consensus seems to be that he is not the passer who will guide the Jets back to the playoffs.

Colts Interview Eric Bieniemy For HC Job

A big name has been added to the list of Colts head coaching candidates. Owner Jim Irsay announced on Twitter that the Colts have completed an interview with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

This is a sudden development in the organization’s head coaching search, but not a particularly surprising one. Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets that the Colts have been “digging” on Bieniemy over the past few days.

A fixture on head-coaching carousels in recent years, Bieniemy has been unable to land a top job. The coordinator was connected to all seven head coaching vacancies during the 2021 campaign, but he only interviewed for two gigs (Saints, Broncos) in 2022. Now, after years of interviewing for a head coach job, Bieniemy has secured only his first interview of the year.

A Chiefs assistant throughout Andy Reid‘s nine-year tenure, Bieniemy has been the team’s OC throughout Patrick Mahomes‘ QB1 run. A report indicated that the 2021 season was somewhat trying for Bieniemy mentally, and the prospect of sitting out 2022 or returning to the college ranks emerged. He ultimately decided to stick in Kansas City, and despite the loss of wideout Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs offense still managed to lead the NFL in points and yards.

Bieniemy would be a logical fit in Indianapolis, where the Colts are looking for a head coach to replace Frank Reich and (potentially) interim HC Jeff Saturday. As ESPN’s Stephen Holder tweets, the coach has “strong ties” to Colts general manager Chris Ballard dating back to their time in Kansas City.

As our 2023 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, the growing list of known and potential Colts head coaching candidates includes:

Colts Open To Trading Up For Quarterback; Jeff Saturday In Play To Stay

Chris Ballard confirmed November reports he did not back Jim Irsay‘s decision to hire Jeff Saturday as the team’s interim head coach, but the six-year Colts GM also said Tuesday (via SI.com’s Albert Breer, on Twitter) that Saturday will be a candidate to stay on as the team’s full-time hire.

As that strange partnership persists, for the time being, the Colts find themselves in their best position to draft a quarterback in some time. While Josh Allen went off the board one spot after the Colts selected Quenton Nelson five years ago, Indianapolis was not exactly in need of a QB at that point. Since Andrew Luck‘s sudden retirement in 2019, the Colts have only made one first-round pick (Kwity Paye in 2021) and opted to make two trades to fill their starting QB post. Neither the Carson Wentz nor the Matt Ryan deal ended up working out.

The Colts will be a candidate to trade up for a passer, injecting more intrigue into the team’s highest draft choice (No. 4 overall) since Luck 11 years ago.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” Ballard said (via ESPN.com’s Stephen Holder) regarding a trade-up. “If we thought there’s a player that we’re driven to get that makes the franchise and the team better, that’s what we would do. We understand the importance of the position. To get one that you can win with and to be right is the most important thing — not if we take one or not. It’s being right.

Looking back on it, when you’re changing quarterbacks every year, it’s tough. It’s tough on everybody. It’s tough on the team. Not getting that position settled has a little something to do with [the team’s tumble].”

It might take moving up to the No. 1 spot to select Alabama’s Bryce Young, whom the Texans will likely covet at No. 2 overall. ESPN.com’s Todd McShay has both C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) and Will Levis (Kentucky) going in the top six. Colleague Mel Kiper Jr. slots Stroud as the No. 4 overall prospect and Levis outside the top 10.

While the Colts have experienced good fortune after bad seasons, falling into the Luck and Peyton Manning draft slots. Nabbing Nelson at No. 6, following a 2017 season Luck missed all of due to a shoulder injury, has also worked out well. But Luck’s retirement thrust the Colts into a tailspin. They may be connected to yet another veteran — after the Philip Rivers-Wentz-Ryan carousel — this offseason, but strong consideration will be given to reinvesting via the draft.

Ballard said he told Irsay just before the Saturday hire: “This is unprecedented, and we’re putting him into a really tough situation here.” The longtime GM added that he will lead the search for the team’s next head coach, but Irsay will make the final call.

Ballard’s first coaching search produced a historically unusual twist, with Josh McDaniels backing out of a verbal agreement. The Colts’ Reich hire produced two playoff berths, but Irsay — in a rather eventful year for the outspoken owner — pulled the plug on that as the team struggled to start this season. Despite Indy’s woes intensifying under Saturday, he is expected to be interviewed soon.

He knows the internal workings and he’s been able to see the inside of what he wants to fix,” Ballard said when asked if Saturday has a leg up on the outside HC candidates. “But we will have a process that will be equal for everybody.”

Jim Irsay ‘Reluctantly’ Extended Frank Reich In 2021; Latest On Jeff Saturday

JANUARY 1, 2023: Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report that Saturday will “absolutely” be a candidate for the full-time gig, despite recent reports to the contrary. Irsay remains a “big fan” of Saturday, and if the surprising head coach can assemble a quality staff, he will have a real shot to have his interim tag removed. Given Indianapolis’ traditional power structure — the head coach reports to the GM, who reports to the owner — the team’s HC post may not appeal to high-profile candidates who want more personnel control. Indianapolis’ uncertain quarterback situation won’t help matters either.

DECEMBER 29, 2022: Jim Irsay‘s experiment to replace Frank Reich with Jeff Saturday has not gone well. The Colts won their first Saturday-coached game but have lost five straight, with the past two outings being the low point in a wildly disappointing season. Irsay has repeatedly said he will keep Chris Ballard on as GM, but the team’s head-coaching situation will be in the spotlight.

Reich will be on the Colts’ payroll for a while, having signed a four-year extension which is believed to be worth $9MM per year. Despite saying at the time the team had “as great a general manager-head coach combination as there is in the NFL,” Irsay said during an ESPN interview this week (via the New York Post) he was not ready to extend Reich and did so “reluctantly.”

Although the summer 2021 Reich re-up may have been reluctant, Irsay was effectively out of time to hammer out that deal. Reich’s original contract was for five years, and not extending him during the summer of ’21 would have meant the Colts would have been close to having their head coach — who had ventured to two playoff brackets in three years, the second of which without Andrew Luck — moving toward a lame-duck year. Such arrangements are uncommon in the modern NFL, and Irsay provided Reich a second contract. Obviously, the Colts have changed course this year.

Irsay took on a lead role after the team’s 2021 collapse, insisting on a trade of Carson Wentz and then instructing Ballard to complete the Matt Ryan deal. Irsay then drove Ryan’s midseason benching for Sam Ehlinger and fired Reich soon after. Had Saturday not agreed to take over, Irsay said this week Reich would have stayed on longer this season. When asked if he would have fired Reich had Saturday passed on the offer, Irsay said he would have given Reich a bit more time.

Saturday accepting Irsay’s offer led to full-scale blowback against the Colts, who made one of the most shocking interim hires in NFL history. The Colts are coming off back-to-back nationally televised losses, including the Vikings breaking Reich’s near-30-year-old record by erasing a 33-point deficit in Week 15. Irsay said before this week’s Chargers loss Saturday will be competitive for the full-time job and remains “an outstanding candidate.” But execs around the league do not expect Saturday to stick around beyond this season.

The Colts allowing 33 fourth-quarter points to the Cowboys, in the second of their nationally televised Saturday losses, and blowing the lead in Minnesota have execs “convinced” the team will move on from Saturday at season’s end, per Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. Irsay previously said he was looking forward to interviewing a host of candidates for the position, making that comment weeks after indicating hope Saturday would do enough to stay on full-time.

Jim Harbaugh is believed to be on the Colts’ radar for 2023. The Colts’ last HC search produced two hires, with Reich taking over after Josh McDaniels bailed, raising the stakes for this upcoming process. This will be a pressure-packed hire for Irsay and Ballard, with the Colts closing out a chaotic year.

Jim Irsay Assures Colts GM Chris Ballard Will Return In 2023; Jim Harbaugh On HC Radar?

Several teams have disappointed this season, and the Colts are near the top of that list. They have gone from a team that led the NFL with seven Pro Bowlers last season to one with a 4-9-1 squad that just blew an NFL-record 33-point lead.

The Colts have already fired their head coach and offensive coordinator, promoting their assistant quarterbacks coach to call plays, and have made multiple quarterback changes. Jeff Saturday‘s showing in Minnesota likely will lead to him not being retained as Indianapolis’ full-time HC, and prior to the Vikings loss, Jim Irsay indicated he was looking forward to interviewing a host of HC candidates. But the second-generation Colts owner is still planning to keep Chris Ballard in place as GM.

I think a lot of Chris,” Irsay said, via Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required). “Young GMs make mistakes. He’s been up against it. The No. 1 component is he’s an outstanding talent evaluator. He has this [Bill] Polian-esque touch in the draft room. There have been some things … people don’t realize, you have to learn as a general manager. You just don’t get it overnight. I feel very confident in where we’re going.”

The directional confidence part is a bit strange to read, considering what has happened to the Colts over the past year, and it should be noted Irsay issued this Ballard support prior to the team’s 39-36 loss Saturday. But Irsay said upon hiring Saturday that he intended for Ballard to return next year. The Colts are 1-4 since those comments. Ballard, however, had attempted to talk Irsay out of the Saturday move. While Irsay has said it will be Ballard’s job to hire coaches, Keefer adds some around the league are convinced the owner will pursue Jim Harbaugh in 2023.

Long connected on the coaching carousel’s fringes, Harbaugh surfaced in a real way this year by interviewing with the Vikings. Harbaugh also recently announced he would stay at Michigan for a 10th season, but just before that pledge, NFL teams were doing homework on him. Some around the league wonder if Colts interest could change Harbaugh’s Ann Arbor plans, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The former quarterback spent four years with the Colts, leading them to two playoff berths and an AFC championship game in the mid-1990s, and is in the team’s ring of honor. Harbaugh, who has led Michigan to back-to-back College Football Playoff berths, signed a new deal with his alma mater this year. Should Harbaugh truly be on Indy’s radar, Ballard’s personnel power could be at risk — at least compared to where it is now.

Ballard, 53, built what looked like one of the league’s top rosters — though, one without a long-term quarterback — and last year’s Pro Bowl count reinforced confidence the Colts sported a strong foundation. The Colts have extended Ballard draftees Shaquille Leonard, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith. Two of Ballard’s Day 2 picks from 2020 — Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. — will likely be on the extension radar soon as well. But the team has not truly climbed out of the hole Andrew Luck‘s sudden retirement left it in three years ago.

Irsay drove the trade of Carson Wentz to the Commanders and pushed Ballard to finalize the Matt Ryan swap. The latter move has not panned out for the Colts, and Irsay was behind the midseason QB switch that led to Sam Ehlinger rising from third-stringer to starter. It is safe to say this has been a rather chaotic year for the Colts, who returned all seven of those Pro Bowlers this season. Ballard has, however, been rather stingy in free agency since being hired in 2017. That has placed more pressure on his homegrown core.

Last year, Ballard and Reich signed extensions that run through 2026. The former returning in 2023 would mean considerable pressure to both aid Irsay on the team’s next HC hire and fix the quarterback position. Ballard’s last HC search did not go smoothly, with Josh McDaniels reneging on an agreement and Reich being the fallback hire. The next one not panning out would almost certainly lead to Irsay going GM shopping.

Latest On Commanders Owner Dan Snyder

Despite having a bye week, last weekend was a noisy one for the Commanders. On the Thursday leading into the Week 14 slate of NFL games, the Congressional House Oversight Committee released its latest findings into the “toxic work environment” in Washington.

The findings were not only damaging to owner Dan Synder and the team but also implicated the NFL. In summation, the findings confirmed that several employees were victims of a toxic work culture for over two decades. The Committee indicated that Synder “permitted and participated” in the troubling conduct. The most damning part of the report found that Synder and other leadership in the organization perpetuated the toxic culture by ignoring and downplaying sexual misconduct throughout the team’s staff.

Further findings detailed how Snyder interfered with an investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson. Synder reportedly launched a “shadow investigation” into potential sources to The Washington Post, attempted to silence employees who may implicate him for his misconduct, and tried to obstruct Wilkinson’s access to information. In addition to his intimidation of witnesses and the blocking of document production, Synder failed to appear at a public hearing.

For the league’s part, the Committee found that the NFL knew of the serious interference with Wilkinson’s investigation and did nothing to stop it. The league also reportedly misled the public about its own handling of the Wilkinson investigation while continuing to turn a blind eye and minimize workplace misconduct among other teams across the league, as well.

It appears that much of the focus of the investigation was on detailing just how involved Snyder was in the oversight of the organization. Snyder’s argument was that his hands were clean after he fired former team president Bruce Allen. The reported findings, though, seem to indicate that Snyder was fairly knowledgeable of and complicit in the team’s toxic culture.

Regarding potential action against Snyder by the league, Colts owner Jim Irsay has been perhaps the most vocal of the league’s group of team owners. While Irsay has recognized that there is merit to removing Snyder, he reportedly is not ready to vote Snyder out, according to Schuyler Dixon of AP News. Irsay noted the gravity of the action, questioning if that severity of discipline has ever been practiced in the league’s history before. Before calling for a vote, Irsay urged that he would like to hear out his fellow owners’ opinions, including those of Snyder. It’s not quite clear what has been left unsaid at this point by Snyder, the league, and the Committee, so Irsay’s comments ring as procrastinating, if not insincere. With the sale of the franchise likely on the horizon, it’s far simpler for Irsay and company to wait for Snyder to leave of his own accord, rather than forcing him out with direct action.

In looking at the sale, it’s appearing more and more likely that Snyder will sell his full ownership in the franchise, as opposed to just a minority stake. Some with knowledge of these types of transactions have noted that Snyder will likely have “difficulty finding an investor willing to pay $1BB to $2BB to be his junior business partner,” according to Mark Maske, Liz Clarke, and Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated at a press conference that he doesn’t “have any expectations” concerning the sale, Irsay essentially confirmed his sentiment towards conservative action, claiming that, “If the team hypothetically…were sold 100 percent, that would resolve things.”

Whether legal discipline will eventually find Snyder is still up in the air. What is becoming more and more clear, though, is that Snyder’s days in the NFL are numbered. He is likely to sell his ownership in the franchise in the coming months. If he balks and refuses to give up the reins, perhaps Irsay and the league will take more urgency in dealing with the problem of Snyder’s persistent presence.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Initiates Inquiry Into Colts’ Interim HC Hire

Following the Colts’ recent decision to suddenly name Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach, the Fritz Pollard Alliance released a statement questioning the organization’s hiring process.

[RELATED: Colts Name Jeff Saturday Interim Replacement]

“In light of the recent interim head coaching hire in Indianapolis, the FPA has initiated an inquiry with the NFL into whether this hiring process conformed with NFL Hiring Guidelines for naming an interim Head Coach,” the FPA said in a statement (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter).

The NFL has said that the Rooney Rule, a policy requiring teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching positions, does not apply to interim HC gigs. Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the Rooney Rule should apply to interim hirings, and this latest statement “effectively formalizes the push for that change” (Twitter link).

League spokesperson Brian McCarthy told ESPN’s Stephen Holder that the Colts would be required to conduct a HC search that complies with the Rooney Rule following the season, at which time the organization will presumably be seeking a full-time coach. Colts owner Jim Irsay also indicated as much following the announcement of Saturday’s hiring.

“At the end of the season, there will be a full process of reviewing permanent head coach, which we will have an interview process for and go from there,” Irsay said (via Holder). “This is for eight games and hopefully more.”

Colts Execs Attempted To Dissuade Jim Irsay From Jeff Saturday Hire

Of the 43 interim head coaches hired this century, the Colts’ Jeff Saturday move generated by far the most attention. Saturday’s inexperience headlined last week’s NFL news cycle, and high-ranking Colts staffers aimed to convince Jim Irsay to go in a different direction.

Both GM Chris Ballard and team president Pete Ward expressed reservations about Irsay’s plan to hire Saturday, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Others joined Ballard, who is in his sixth year as GM, and Ward, who has been with the Colts since before their 1984 Indianapolis move, in advising against the decision. But Irsay steadfastly pulled the trigger on Saturday, who is now 1-0 as Colts HC.

Irsay called Saturday during the Colts’ Week 9 loss to the Patriots, discussing the team’s protections. That discussion led to an offer to become Indianapolis’ interim HC. Had Saturday not accepted the job, Irsay would not have fired Frank Reich, Zak Keefer of The Athletic notes (subscription required). That points to Irsay’s conviction on the inexperienced coach while also revealing an obvious lack of desire to promote one of Reich’s assistants to the post.

[RELATED: Irsay Reaffirms Commitment To Ballard For 2023]

Some of Reich’s assistants have expressed displeasure with Irsay’s call, and it is safe to say the Colts’ staff will look considerably different next season. Following last week’s report of quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich turning down the opportunity to call plays, Rapoport and Pelissero confirm as much and note the Colts’ play-calling offer did not include any adjustments to his current contract. Milanovich, a former Grey Cup-winning head coach, has been Indy’s QBs coach since 2021, when the team promoted Marcus Brady to replace Nick Sirianni. The Colts fired Brady earlier this season.

Milanovich and running backs coach Scottie Montgomery — each of whom having play-calling experience, though most of it coming outside the NFL — will play a big role in game-planning, Saturday said. But Parks Frazier has made the unusual leap from assistant QBs coach to play-caller.

Saturday also had the freedom to bench Sam Ehlinger and reinstall Matt Ryan as the starter, a choice Irsay does not appear to have made available for Reich. The five-year Colts HC did not back the Irsay-driven pivot to Ehlinger, and Keefer adds the players were not behind the Ryan benching as well. Despite Ryan’s nine interceptions and 11 fumbles through seven games, Keefer notes the Colts’ roster viewed the veteran as the player who gave the team its best chance to win. Recovered from his shoulder injury, Ryan received first-team reps during Colts practice last week, Keefer tweets.

The Colts did enjoy the opportunity of facing a Raiders defense that has slipped from below average — under current Colts DC Gus Bradley — in 2021 to one of the league’s worst units. Las Vegas ranks 28th in both points allowed and total defense. The Colts still entered Week 10 as underdogs, and their Saturday-Frazier-Ryan direction nevertheless led to a victory. Moving to 4-5-1, the Colts remain a fringe AFC contender — record-wise, at least — and outings like Sunday’s will provide ammunition for Irsay’s hope of Saturday sticking around beyond 2022.

No interim HC has been retained since Doug Marrone kept the Jaguars’ reins, after the team fired Bradley, in 2016. Saturday moving into position to buck this trend would add to the scrutiny engulfing the Colts, but it is safe to say traditional norms regarding interim HCs do not apply here. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting interim stretches in modern NFL history.