The timeline of how Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay hired Jeff Saturday is murky.
In his first solo news conference since being named interim head coach, Saturday admitted that Irsay called the former Colts center and ESPN analyst twice on Sunday. The first call came during Indianapolis' Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots, though Saturday denies the two spoke about a job offer during that conversation, while the second call sometime late Sunday night before Irsay officially fired Frank Reich. That second call was the job offer, but Saturday didn't accept until he called Irsay back in the very early hours of Monday morning after consulting with his wife.
“He was asking me what was going on," Saturday said regarding his first call with Irsay Sunday afternoon. "This was not about Frank. They had given up a bunch of sacks. I was not watching that game. ... This was not a conversation about Frank or the job."
That would certainly coordinate with the quick turnaround of this hire — Saturday confirmed everything came together in about 12 hours — but it doesn't quell the confusion or frustrations that come with replacing a seasoned head coach with a former player with no coaching experience when your team sits at 3-5-1.
But that doesn't seem to be the point of Saturday. Irsay alluded in Saturday's introductory press conference Monday that he hired Saturday to build a culture within the organization, not necessarily to win games. Saturday all but agreed Wednesday when he said he took the job "because I care" about the team and rattled off the different corners of the organization.
"These are my people, bro. My adult life was forged here," he said. "My wife and I – we raised our kids here. These people matter to me. This organization matters to me. The people in the community matter to me. Everybody thinks this is flippant. This is not. I care whatever I can do."
The way he tells it, Saturday is there for an eight-game test run. When the season is over, Saturday said he or Irsay could easily wash their hands of this perplexing and perhaps undeserved experiment. That phrasing is important because of the implication that this hire skirts the Rooney Rule. Saturday addressed the Rooney Rule specifically when he spoke about his future, too
"My role here is for eight games," he said. "When this is over. They will do an exhaustive search and pick whoever their best candidate is to be the head coach of the Colts. If I'm considered I'd be honored. I have no idea where this thing is gonna go — not even a little bit. I can assure you, that’s going to be handled.”
But what about that "enough experience" Irsay toted? Saturday explained that while he hasn’t coached in the NFL before, his 14 years of playing in the league prepared him for the job. He added that he has "no fear about" the appearance that he's underqualified for the role, either.
"I know I can lead men. I know I know the game of football and I'm passionate about it,” Saturday said. “I spent 14 years in the locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I got five dudes in the Hall of Fame that played with me. You don't think I've seen greatness? You don't think I've seen how people prepare, who they coach, how they GM, how they work?"
Lost to the fanfare is the reality that Saturday and the Colts have had only one walkthrough practice since he became head coach. And they also have a game this week against the Las Vegas Raiders and, ironically, the coach Irsay originally tried to hire before Reich — Josh McDaniels. Both teams are in desperate need of a win, though the Raiders really can't afford to lose to the current laughingstock of the league.
Either way, Week 10 will be the first of the eight opportunities for Saturday to prove to himself, Irsay and the rest of the sports world that this decision wasn't a complete and utter disaster. But unless something dramatic changes between now and Sunday, it's hard to imagine the Colts' outlook in 2022 will improve.
Saturday doesn't appear fazed by any of it, though.
"I may be terrible at this and after eight games I'll say, 'God bless you. I am no good,'" Saturday said. "I may be really good at it. I got no idea. But I dang sure am not going to back down. I'll tell you that."