Jeff Saturday may assist remedy Colts’ key situation; reward for Malik Willis: AFC South evaluation

Perhaps weirder than the Indianapolis Colts’ resolution to rent Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach — a franchise legend with no teaching expertise past the highschool stage — was proprietor Jim Irsay’s logic for explaining it Monday night time. 

Irsay insisted Saturday, an ESPN NFL analyst simply days in the past, was the “best man for the job,” regardless of having a number of veteran NFL coaches on his teaching employees, together with two with head-coaching expertise in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and senior defensive assistant John Fox, that may make an abrupt transition mid-season extra seamless. Irsay mentioned Saturday was “fully experienced enough,” with 5 seasons as a highschool coach, together with simply three as a head coach, being his solely expertise. 

Irsay went on to invoke the likes of teaching legends Don Shula and Tony Dungy in speaking about Saturday. He boldly mentioned he is glad Saturday does not have any NFL expertise, as a result of there’s supposedly “fear” amongst conventional NFL coaches about marrying analytics to scheme. 

A dizzying, Irsay-led press convention leads me to this dizzying conclusion: Saturday getting a Colts interim head-coaching job he is laughably underqualified for is perhaps price it if he can assist Indianapolis’ offensive line enhance. 

“It’s an intuitive decision,” Irsay mentioned of hiring Saturday. “He knows this game inside and out with relationships with coaches and players and has been a consultant for us for several years — a paid consultant, informing Chris (Ballard) and I and other people in the organization his opinions.”

Jeff Saturday named Indianapolis Colts interim head coach | THE HERD

Jeff Saturday named Indianapolis Colts interim head coach | THE HERD

NFL Reporter Albert Breer joins Colin Cowherd on The Herd to debate the Indianapolis Colts resolution to maneuver on from former head coach Frank Reich onto interim head coach Jeff Saturday.

Quarterback has been a years-long situation for the Colts, however dreadful play upfront has been on the crux of their offensive points in 2022. They can not go block — whether or not it has been Matt Ryan or Sam Ehlinger underneath heart (Ehlinger was sacked 9 occasions by the New England Patriots final week). They usually cannot run block, whether or not it has been Jonathan Taylor or another person within the backfield.

In line with Soccer Outsiders, Indianapolis ranks second worst in adjusted line yards (3.86), a sophisticated metric that quantifies offensive line duty on working again carries via varied sport conditions (down, distance, scenario, and so on.). It is fourth-worst in adjusted sack charge (9.5%), which accounts for down, distance and opponent on sacks allowed. General, the Colts have the NFL’s second-worst offensive line, per Soccer Outsiders. And no staff has devoted additional cash and cap {dollars} to their O-line than the Colts. Shuffling the starters hasn’t made a distinction. The shortcomings upfront have been nothing wanting abject failure. 

And that is someplace Saturday may assist. He is aware of the intricacies of offensive line play as a former perennial Professional Bowl heart. He additionally is aware of particularly how the Colts need to play up entrance, contemplating he performed 13 seasons, received a Tremendous Bowl and is a Ring of Honor inductee with the franchise.

RELATED: FRANK REICH’S FIRING SHOWS NEW COLTS COACH WILL NEED QB TO SUCCEED

Being nice at one thing doesn’t suggest you could possibly be nice at educating it, however Indianapolis is giving Saturday that probability. 

“It doesn’t take long to figure out that he’s got real leadership in him, real special in that regard,” mentioned Ballard, the staff’s normal supervisor. “For this eight-game stretch and where we’re at, we thought he was going to be a really good fit for us.”

With Saturday’s lack of teaching expertise, hiring him as some type of offensive-line coach would’ve made essentially the most sense if his experience was as desperately wished as Irsay made it recognized. 

“We’ve tried to hire him a couple times,” Ballard acknowledged. “We tried to hire him in 2019 as the offensive line coach. And we tried to hire him again this year. Just didn’t work out. The timing didn’t work out.” 

It labored out now. They discovered a approach to get him within the constructing as a head coach, on an interim foundation, after a midseason firing. 

And perhaps that is the one approach to make sense of this weird scenario. 

Expertise is there for Titans’ Malik Willis. Do not forget about that. 

Chiefs coach Andy Reid, deep into a solution about how his protection made changes within the second half en path to a dramatic 20-17 victory over the Titans on Sunday night time, touched on Tennessee rookie quarterback Malik Willis — making his second profession begin with Ryan Tannehill sidelined — when he did not should.  

“I think he’s going to be a real good one down the road,” Reid mentioned of Willis. 

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs defeat Titans in OT, KC 1st place in AFC West | First Issues First

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs defeat Titans in OT, KC 1st place in AFC West | First Things First

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs wanted time beyond regulation to defeat the Derrick Henry led Tennessee Titans in Week 9.

Reid, top-of-the-line offensive minds in NFL historical past who has helped mould the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, praised the third-round choose unsolicited. And keep in mind this, too: again in August, after a Titans-Ravens preseason sport, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson additionally spoke extremely of Willis, saying “he’s going to be good in the league.” Reward from these two — a Tremendous Bowl-winning coach and a former league MVP  — speaks volumes about Willis’ potential. 

So whereas observers could be justified in saying the previous Liberty star does not seem like a real NFL quarterback, who’s to say he cannot change into one with time?

Within the first half in opposition to the Chiefs, we noticed glimpses. Like within the first quarter, on third & 14 from the Kansas Metropolis 39, he prevented two sacks — spinning out of 1 and side-stepping away from the opposite — to maintain a play alive. How within the second quarter, on a boot motion rolling and working backwards dealing with stress to his proper, fired an off-balance one-legged throw to tight finish Austin Hooper for a 16-yard achieve. How later in that very same drive, he threw a dime down the sideline for receiver Chris Conley that ought to’ve been caught. How he gave receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine an opportunity on a 50-50 ball down the sideline that may’ve given the Titans first and purpose within the fourth quarter. How general, he made strides from his first profession begin in opposition to the Texans in Week 8. 

A dynamic runner, Willis is unpolished as a passer, in fact. He is tried simply 26 passes in two begins, finishing simply 40% of them. He is tucked the ball to run too shortly at occasions, giving up on go performs. The accuracy and decision-making are inconsistent. His capability to maintain a play alive has typically gotten him in hassle within the backfield. He nonetheless wants growth. A number of it. 

However he is heading in the right direction. Opposing groups are noticing.  

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand labored for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Community, the place he was the Titans beat author for a 12 months and a half. He lined the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for 3 seasons (2018-20) previous to transferring to Tennessee. You possibly can comply with Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.


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