There has been a lot more criticism than support for the decision from the Indianapolis Colts to hire Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. But even before seeing Saturday coach his first game in the league, NFL Network’s Joe Thomas has emerged as a clear top critic of the move.
The 8-time All-Pro absolutely ripped into Saturday and Colts owner Jim Irsay, diving into a long rant, while discussing the hire on Good Morning, Football.
“When you hire your drinking buddy to be head coach of an NFL football team, it is one of the most disrespectful things I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Thomas said. “To the commitment, the lifestyle and the experience that it takes to be an NFL coach, any coach, much less the head coach of the Indianapolis football Colts.”
An April Fools Joke?
The former Cleveland Browns left tackle said that he was in France on vacation when he heard the news about the Colts hiring Saturday. He shared that his initial reaction to the hire was he thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
Saturday has no coaching experience at the NFL or college level. He was a high school head coach from 2016-19 and has served as a football analyst for ESPN since retiring from playing after the 2012 season.
When Irsay was asked about Saturday’s lack of experience during the interim head coach’s introductory press conference, the Colts owner tried to spin it into a positive.
“I am glad he doesn’t have any NFL experience,” Irsay said in the presser. “I’m glad he hasn’t learned the fear that’s in this league because it’s tough for all of our coaches. They’re afraid. They go to analytics, and it gets difficult. I mean, he doesn’t have all that. He doesn’t have that fear.”
Thomas particularly disliked that answer from Irsay, referring to it as insulting.
“If you didn’t already insult every person that’s worked their entire life to be a head coach in the NFL, then to go up there and say, ‘I like that he has no experience because all of y’all NFL head coaches are scared because you use logic and analytics to make decisions … I thought it was a joke.
“It was the most egregious thing I can ever remember happening in the NFL.”
As the former offensive lineman pointed out himself, that’s quite a statement, considering Thomas’ Browns went 1-31 in his final two seasons.
Thomas Puts Colts on Blast: ‘You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me’
Interestingly, Thomas didn’t shy away from also criticizing Saturday.
Most of the Colts media view Saturday as the most innocent party in the Indianapolis organization since the coaching change. Irsay called him, and what former player wouldn’t want a shot at coaching in the NFL?
Thomas doesn’t quite see it that way.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, that this is something that Jim Irsay and Jeff Saturday, who is not blameless for accepting the job, could have talked and decided that this was the best thing for the Indianapolis Colts at this juncture of the season,” said Thomas.
Former NFL general manager and Heavy senior contributor Randy Mueller didn’t blame Saturday,but shared shared a similar sentiment.
“By naming a person with zero coaching experience above high school, Irsay is suggesting you don’t need the knowledge, perspective or experience with this part of the game/business to be successful,” Mueller wrote. “I really struggle with that assessment.”
Saturday will spent his first game on the NFL sidelines as a coach on November 13 against the Las Vegas Raiders.