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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bridges: NFL coaching experience matters

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By now everyone has an opinion regarding Jim Irsay’s decision to fire Frank Reich and replace him with Jeff Saturday, one of his favorite former players who has zero experience coaching an NFL team, and who was quietly drawing a paycheck from him as a consultant to the owner.

Saturday’s appointment was definitely an eye opener among football traditionalists and clearly a slap in the face to Reich, Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and senior defensive assistant coach John Fox.

The latter of the two led both the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl, but apparently that didn’t stack up much to the eclectic Irsay as much as his strange admiration for a former Colts player who can point to a couple of years of high school coaching experience along with a stint as a talking head on ESPN as his track record.

While Saturday openly admitted his dismay about the offer from his former employer, he took the gig with intentions of garnering the spotlight under the guise of answering the bell to help a “friend” in a tough spot and hopefully contribute to the restoration of a franchise he dearly loves.

To his credit he mentioned the word interim repeatedly upon arrival and acknowledged there were no guarantees about future employment with the Colts, which was both strategic public relations and a falsehood rolled into one.

Both Irsay and Saturday undoubtedly realize that as usual, there’s only a handful of teams in the NFL that can reach the Super Bowl and, despite the offseason chest pounding and predictions to the contrary, the Colts were never one of those this season, so why the heck not install a greenhorn to coach a team that truly lacks even a smidge of legitimate postseason pedigree?

The disrespect shown to Bradley and Fox is one thing, but why would any owner pull such a stunt with eight games remaining in a season?

It looked to be a no-brainer type of decision that Reich would be jettisoned at the end of the season along with many of his assistant coaches, so what stoked Irsay’s ego to the point he would marginalize Colts GM Chris Ballard’s decision making and make such a completely unorthodox move?

That’s an easy question to answer and one that was not addressed in the mostly incoherent and rambling press conference conducted by Irsay to announce the move and introduce Saturday.

It boils down to: I’m the owner and I can do whatever I want.

Forget my obligation to the city of Indianapolis, which has generously underwritten my cost to be the boss, and don’t worry about the season ticket holders as well, as their insatiable appetite for NFL football overrides my clear obligation to field a competitive team and an experienced and competent coaching staff to lead it.

A large degree of Colts fans live vicariously through this franchise, so when the victory over the Raiders occurred, many posted rather strange and premature thoughts on social media about Saturday being the guy who was sorely needed and deemed him to be the next Bill Belichick to boot.

Those confused individuals aside, Jim Irsay has made his decision and in the process reminded every fan who wears a Colts jersey on gameday that your opinion doesn’t matter.

Don’t take it personally, especially when you receive your season ticket renewal invoice. After all it’s his team, not yours, and he can do what he wants, including the disrespectful firing of his head coach by telephone and replacing him with his friend.

Notes: Many people said I was crazy (imagine that) when I said it was Irsay and not Reich and Ballard who made the “decision” to name Sam Ehlinger as the starting quarterback. Still laughing at me, Colts fans? It’s OK.

Reportedly both Ballard and Colts executive Peter Ward attempted to talk Irsay out of the firing of Reich and the appointment of Saturday. Can you imagine that uncomfortable conversation?

The Colts’ win over a pathetic Las Vegas Raiders team ravaged by injuries came down to the final play of the game where Stephon Gilmore made contact with a Raiders receiver in the end zone. The obvious pass interference went uncalled, setting the stage for a much needed but highly questionable victory.

Long-time Pittsburgh Steelers coach and current CBS NFL studio analyst Bill Cowher spoke candidly on national television about the disrespect that Irsay had shown the NFL coaching fraternity by hiring Saturday. He’s right, Colts fans.

Speaking of disrespect, why would anyone listen to a word Pat McAfee has to say about the recent developments? He’s a court jester and a former punter, and his platform, while popular with youngsters and NFL fan club presidents, doesn’t really mean squat. How can anyone take a guy who once drunkenly auditioned for the Olympic swimming trials in the Broad Ripple Canal serious about anything, especially NFL football? Egads…

The Colts return home this weekend to face the Philadelphia Eagles. If you can’t justify buying a ticket to watch a franchise in total disarray, you can watch the game on the local CBS affiliate or tune in to the Colts radio network for the game.

Danny Bridges, who thinks Frank Reich deserved to be fired face-to-face by a truly troubled owner, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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