NFL Coaches, Executives React to Colts’ Head Coach Situation

Frank Reich

Getty The Indianapolis Colts fired head coach Frank Reich on November 7 and replaced him with ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday.

The media had it’s day of reaction when the Indianapolis Colts announced their plan to fire Frank Reich and hire TV analyst Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. Now, coaches and executives around the NFL are having their turn.

Overall, they are just as shocked and “bewildered” as the media members who cover the Colts.

“It’s an incredibly brilliant move to [crap] on an entire industry of coaches,” a league source wrote in a text to Heavy senior report Matt Lombardo after Indianapolis announced Saturday as interim head coach. “Including multiple coaches in your own building. Just a genius move to hire a man who has never coached at any level.”

Colts Choose Saturday Over Other Qualified Candidates on Staff

One of the first things Saturday did during his introductory press conference was compliment how good of a coaching staff the Colts possess. For a man who admitted himself that he needs to win over the Indianapolis locker room, that was a smart move.

But this question remains — if the Colts coaching staff is so great, why did owner Jim Irsay hire a TV analyst as interim head coach?

Indianapolis has two former head coaches on staff in Gus Bradley and John Fox. Bradley owns one of the worst win percentages as a head coach in NFL history, but Fox won 133 games with the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.

Bradley probably wouldn’t have been the best choice for the promotion anyway because he calls plays for the defense. He has his unit playing well too, so there was no need to disrupt things.

But as the team’s current senior defensive assistant, Fox could have easily slid into the interim head coaching role.

So could have special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe wrote that Ventrone is viewed as a coach on the rise in NFL circles.

Running backs coach Scottie Montgomery and quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich were other interesting candidates as well. Montgomery served as head coach at East Carolina from 2016-18 while Milanovich was a head coach in the CFL for five seasons.

Instead of any of those candidates, the Colts went with an unconventional route and hired a former player who wasn’t currently in the organization.

Saturday Hire Fallout From Inside the League

Overlooking the qualified coaches on staff could have ramifications for the Colts when they conduct a more thorough hiring process for head coach following the season. No matter how well Saturday does with this opportunity, the Rooney Rule requires the Colts to perform that more thorough search.

Will hiring Saturday impact that search? Howe answered with a resounding yes.

“It’s fair to wonder now, however, if in the coming months, when the Colts are trying to hire their next head coach, how will prospective candidates view the stability of the position? If Saturday is the hand-chosen replacement by ownership, the next round of interviewees will be on alert that something like this could repeat itself, according to a former NFL head coach,” Howe wrote. “Those with prior head coaching experience tend to be more selective with their next job opportunities, knowing it will likely be their last shot, and this could now be a factor.

“Two opposing team executives and one assistant coach used the same word to describe Monday’s events: ‘Crazy.'”

The Athletic polled a few executives, with the consensus being, “it’s hard to fathom what is going on” with the Colts.

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