In the interview, Irsay addressed the Colts’ struggles throughout the 2022 season, including former head coach Frank Reich’s dismissal, the hiring of interim head coach Jeff Saturday and the team’s future.
Reich was fired on November 7, the day after a 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots. The Colts put together an abysmal offensive performance with just 121 yards.
In August 2021, the Colts announced they agreed to a contract extension with Reich. That was obviously short-lived, as Irsay decided he had seen enough after Reich’s 3-5-1 start to 2022.
“We had multiple conversations,” Irsay told Beisner-Buck. “I reluctantly gave Frank an extension sooner than I wanted to. When you see it really, really coming apart, then you realize that you have to make that change.”
Now, the Colts are set to pay Reich $9 million every year until 2026 as a result of the extension.
All of this led to what Irsay referred to as the “unusual” process to bring in Saturday.
How Saturday Was Hired
Once the Colts suffered the 23-point road loss to the Patriots, Irsay revealed he “instantly engaged” with Saturday.
“Jeff had to be certain,” Irsay said to Beisner-Buck. “‘Did you talk to your wife, Karen? Are you sure you’re all in?’”
The Rooney Rule does not apply to interim head coach hirings. As a result, Irsay said the Colts did not go through the longer Rooney Rule process because the team was “under great pressure.”
“It wasn’t until 1:30 in the morning [on November 7], almost, before it was going to be clear that Jeff was going to become our head coach,” Irsay said.
Irsay added that the Colts will follow the full Rooney Rule process when the team seeks a full-time head coach after the regular season.
One of the more notable details in Beisner-Buck’s interview with Irsay: if Saturday declined the interim head-coaching role, Reich would not have been fired that week.
The Colts’ Future
Beisner-Buck’s last question for Irsay involved the Colts’ 2023 plans at head coach, general manager and quarterback.
In regards to the next head coach, Irsay said he would be “fiercely open-minded” throughout the search and touted Saturday as a potential candidate to take the full-time position.
“Jeff, I believe, is an outstanding candidate, so obviously he’s competitive for that,” Irsay told Beisner-Buck.
Saturday said there would be no change at general manager and Chris Ballard would remain in the role. Ballard has been the Colts’ general manager since 2017.
However, Irsay said it’s unclear who would be the Colts’ starting quarterback next year.
“It’s very much up in the air right now on what direction we’ll be going,” Irsay said. “This journey keeps going and I’m all in for it.”
The Colts have brought in three different veteran quarterbacks in the last three years: Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. It’s possible the Colts could target a rookie in 2023, as a recent mock draft revealed.
No matter the decision, the Colts seem to be gearing up for a new signal caller.