Longtime star offensive lineman Jeff Saturday spent 13 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. File Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said first-time NFL coach Jeff Saturday is "fully experienced enough" and defended the highly-criticized hire. He also wants the interim coach to be in place for more than eight games.
Irsay made the comments during a introductory news conference, while alongside Saturday and general manager Chris Ballard, on Monday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis.
The Colts (3-5-1) announced the firing of veteran coach Frank Reich on Monday morning and named Saturday as his interim replacement about an hour later.
Irsay said it was a "difficult decision" to fire Reich. He said the decision was "cultivated over years."
"It's an intuitive thing," Irsay said. "There is no rule book that tell you 'now you should make a change, now you shouldn't.'"
Reich, 60, led the Colts to a 40-33-1 record in five seasons. He held NFL coaching staff roles since 2006, when he started his career as an intern for the Colts.
Saturday, 47, spent 14 seasons in the NFL. The former All-Pro center spent 13 seasons with the Colts, playing alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. He spent his final season with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Saturday, who never coached in college or the NFL, coached from 2017 through 2020 at Hebron Christian Academy.in Dacula, Ga. He led the Lions to a 20-16 record. He later resigned and became an ESPN analyst.
"Yes, he is fully experienced enough," Irsay said. "Yes, he is fully capable. He is extremely smart. He is extremely competitive. He understands the game."
The Colts, who fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady last week, scored either one or zero touchdowns in four of their last five games. They scored two total touchdowns during their current three-game losing streak.
Saturday said he "shocked would be an understatement," when asked what his reaction was when he received Irsay's offer to become interim coach. That call came Sunday, after the Colts lost to the Washington Commanders 17-16 in Indianapolis.
"I'm here," Saturday said. "Nobody expects anything. Hopefully it'll go extremely well. But I have no preconceived notion that I'm gonna be some spectacular anything."
Saturday said he previously served as a consultant for the Colts coaching staff. Ballard told reporters that the Colts tried to hire Saturday several times in the past, including as an offensive line coach.
The Colts will battle the Las Vegas Raiders at 4:05 p.m. EST Sunday in Las Vegas.
"I gotta work hard," Saturday said. "I'm auditioning not only for this one, but for 31 others [teams], just like everyone else in this game."
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throws against the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans on November 7, 2022. The Ravens beat the Saints 27-13. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo