INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday took his place in front of his new team for the first time, and he did so with a delicate blend of boldness and humility.
Saturday bounced around the building on Wednesday, leading his first team meeting with the boundless energy he displayed as a player. At the same time, he’s made no effort to hide from the realities surrounding his superb hire — that he’s taking on the role without any coaching experience above the high school level.
“We can’t run from the stories that are being told,” Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “We’re not going to treat him like the elephant in the room. We’re going to be men and recognize him, and I think he’s done a great job in that regard.”
Center Ryan Kelly, a team captain, greatly appreciated Saturday’s approach.
“He approached it the right way,” Kelly said of Saturday. “He didn’t just come in and demand respect. … He did it the right way. That comes with the territory of being in this league for a long time. You know that [players] can easily smell the bulls —. He did a great job.”
Asked how his players would react, Saturday answered the only way he knows how: frankly.
“It’s me, man. I won’t change,” he said. “I told them if I wasn’t authentic bro, we got nowhere to go. But that’s, that’s who I am.”
Saturday’s daily media session was largely a continuation of Monday night’s introductory press conference with owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard.
Among the unanswered questions that were addressed: Why do this? Saturday puts himself squarely in the crosshairs by accepting this job under the circumstances, which include the Colts’ three-game losing streak; their beleaguered and anemic offense; and his role leading a coaching staff that likely has mixed feelings about his surprise hire.
Saturday has been thrown into a delicate situation in which he takes over from their former boss, Frank Reich, who fired on Monday.
So why would he want anything to do with it?
“Because I care,” said the 13-year-old veteran Colts offensive lineman who is enshrined in the team’s ring of honor. “I said to the guys this morning, I care about the players, I care about their families. I sat in their seat. Man, that sucks, right?… I love Frank, man. I was working with Frank , no So I work with him every week, I talk to him, I consider Frank a friend.
“So I understand [the players’] perspective. I sat in this seat. They like Frank, man. He’s their trainer. They played for this guy. So I’m not minimizing that at all.”
But Saturday also alternated approaches at the press conference, eventually moving on to the confidence that made him a six-time Pro Bowl selection. He again addressed the issues surrounding his inexperience as a coach, and he did so forcefully.
“That’s the deal,” he said. “Everybody talks about my [inexperience]. I am completely comfortable in who I am as a man. I know I can lead men. I know football and I’m passionate about it. … Bro, I spent 14 years in a locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I got five guys in the hall of fame that played with [me]. Don’t you think I’ve seen greatness? You don’t think I’ve seen how people prepare, how they train, how they [manage]How do they work?
“I mean, I won a Super Bowl, I’ve been to two. Here’s the deal, man. None of us are promised a good job. I might be terrible at this and, after eight games, I’ll say, ‘God bless you. I am not good. I may be very good at this. I have no idea, but I certainly won’t back down. “
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