What is everyone going to say about Jeff Saturday now? What are the TV pundits who attacked him, personally even, for jumping the so-called line and taking the Indianapolis Colts coaching job when it was offered going to say now?
Saturday won his first game as the Colts’ interim head coach on Sunday by beating the Las Vegas Raiders, 25-20.
Afterward he put his journey from ESPN analyst with zero college or professional head coaching experience, to Indy’s interim head coaching job, to a 1-0 record in perspective:
“I’m not sure there’s a story book ending any better for the first game,” Saturday said.
That’s cool. It’s a intriguing story and one that will not soon fade.
Jeff Saturday Makes Pundits Eat Their Words
But what about the people who criticized Saturday for taking the job? What are they going to do now?
Because those folks didn’t just criticize Colts owner Jim Irsay for offering Saturday the job for eight games with no guarantee of more. That move is obviously questionable.
They went after Saturday himself for accepting the challenge.
They went after his integrity. His respect, or lack thereof they claimed, for the game.
“Jeff Saturday is not blameless for accepting the job,” former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, now an analyst on Amazon said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football last Friday.
“The disrespect that NFL coaches had to feel when they saw that this hire was made is higher than almost anything I can possibly remember in the NFL.
“It was the most egregious thing I can ever remember happening in the NFL,” Thomas concluded, “and I went 1-31 my last two years in the NFL.”
Thomas is not alone. Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, saying he was speaking on behalf of the entire coaching profession,’ roasted Saturday’s hiring on CBS.
“It’s a disgrace to the coaching profession and regardless of how this thing plays out, what happened in Indianapolis is a travesty,” Cowher said.
Cowher, by the way, became the Cleveland Browns special teams coach in 1985 with zero coaching experience. He played linebacker but became the Browns’ defensive backs coach in 1987 with zero defensive back experience.
And all these former players and former coaches discussing how Saturday jumped the so-called line to land his interim job themselves jumped seasoned broadcasters on line to land their television jobs.
So, much respect to ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky for sort of calling out all the terrible take artists on his social media account.
What’s Next For Jeff Saturday
And this is the part where you have to know, Jeff Saturday is unlikely to finish his first coaching experience undefeated.
The Colts are a middling team (when healthy) that beat a bad Raiders team. So things may change in upcoming games against the Eagles, Vikings, and perhaps the Cowboys.
But Saturday seems to be managing just fine so far. He saw Sam Ehlinger throw in Thursday’s practice last week, and saw Matt Ryan throw the same day, and decided he was making a quarterback change.
His team played hard — much harder than the Raiders — to deliver the new coach his first victory.
“It was fantastic,” Saturday said afterward. “I woke up, spoke to my wife early. A lot of prayer, did church on the phone and watched my normal church back home. Talked to my son and my wife, and then had a lot of text of just encouragement, prayers, thoughts, all those things.
“It was magical in all honesty. In truth, I felt very at peace. I felt like we had a really good plan in place. I felt like all the men who I had talked about empowering and giving them the ability to do what they can do exceptionally well, they all stepped up.
“And I knew what my role was, and I was going to execute my role to the best of my ability. I was going to allow all of those men to do the same and they stepped up, man. It was an incredible day. And again, it’s one win, but heck man, they’re hard to get in the NFL.”
What’s Wrong With Josh Allen?
To watch Josh Allen play quarterback for the Buffalo Bills lately is to watch a wild ride with incredible highs and depressing, helmet-throwing lows. And it’s hard to understand why.
The Buffalo Bills quarterback can sling a ball 70 yards with relative ease, as he did against the New York Jets a couple of weeks ago after he injured his throwing elbow. He can run away from and run over defenders, as he did multiple times Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
But if those attributes suggest Allen is the Superman of NFL quarterbacks, his recent play suggests he’s not always wearing his cape.
Allen leads the NFL in interceptions now.
He leads the NFL in giveaways.
In his last three games Allen has thrown 6 interceptions and his completion percentage was under 60 percent in two of those games. On Sunday both his interceptions happened in the red zone, as Patrick Peterson picked him off in the end zone twice.
That’s some rough stuff, folks.
“I got to be better,” Allen admitted following Buffalo’s 33-30 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
This is true but Allen’s struggles, particularly in the second half the past few weeks, raise the question whether teams are adjusting to the Bills offense. And the Bills are not countering.
All of Allen’s six interceptions the past three games came in the second half. Consequently, the Bills have been outscored 53-12 in the second half of those games. And those Buffalo points all came on field goals.
This puts Allen in the crosshairs. Indeed, that’s where he’s put himself.
But this also raises the possibility that the brain drain the Bills have suffered recently — losing offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who went on to become the Giants head coach and took assistant quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney with him — might be factoring in Allen’s regression.
None of this says the Bills have lost confidence in Allen. Honestly, they can’t afford to. They have to ride or die with him because of his contract and amazing potential for being elite.
But someone has to rein him in and get him back on course. Because right now Superman is all over the place.
The Meaning Behind Derek Carr Weeping
Derek Carr literally cried during his postgame presser Sunday afternoon. And it is all over television and social media and it is painting Carr as a sympathetic figure. And that’s fair.
But disconnect from the emotion and listen to what Carr said and it is troubling.
Here’s what he said:
“I’m sorry for being emotional, I’m just pissed off,” Carr said, the tears welling up in his reddened eyes following a 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. “About some of the things that a lot of us try and do just to practice, what we put our bodies through just to sleep at night. And for that to be the result of all that effort, it pisses me off.
“It’s hard knowing what some guys are doing, like I said, just to practice. What they’re putting in their body just to sleep at night. Just so we can be there for each other. I wish everybody in that room felt the same way about this place. And, as a leader, that pisses me off if I’m being honest.”
So, in other words, the Raiders have players that don’t feel the same way about straining and sacrificing as Carr?
And this has bubbled to the surface after nine games, including three consecutive losses?
The Raiders held an impromptu players gathering after the game, Carr said. Teammates addressed issues with one another “man-to-man,” Carr said.
“It needed to be done, it needed to be said,” Carr said of the frank discussion. “…They addressed it, we addressed it. It’s not a problem. It was addressed. It was good.”
The Raiders have a 2-7 and six of their losses have come in one-score games. That suggests they’re almost good enough but that extra bit, extra play, extra effort is missing.
So it is a problem..
“We have to learn,” Carr admitted, “how to finish those.”