WEEK 10 CRYSTAL BALL - THURSDAY
A Different Take on the Colts' Situation
My friends, THE GURU is just fine with Saturday. Both the day and the Jeff.
I’m also good with former NFL punter Will Monday, ex-Buffalo Bill Larry Friday and 19th-Century Chicago Cub Billy Sunday. Throw in former stud Washington offensive lineman Mark May and well-traveled coaches Bobby April and June Jones while you’re at it and it’s just fine with me. My tent is as large as one of my XXXL t-shirts.
If you missed this week’s big news, there’s a real chance you’re hanging out under a rock with guys like TOMMY BIRD and BROTHER BLUENIK in close proximity. And that’s no way to live.
Here’s a two-sentence recap: the Indianapolis Colts fired head coach Frank Reich this week and replaced him with Saturday, a six-time Pro Bowl center who is in the team’s Ring of Honor. A former high school coach who has never coached pro or college ball, Saturday was most recently working at ESPN and moonlighting as an adviser to Colts owner Jim Irsay.
As soon as the news hit, everyone went berserk. The Twittersphere, the blogosphere, and pretty much any sphere you could imagine. Oranges, bowling balls, etc. Indeed, search the web far and wide and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who likes this move. Until now.
Yes, that’s right folks. Yours truly is just fine with it. Well, maybe it isn’t the decision I would’ve made but I can understand why the Colts did it. Sometimes, when things are not working, you have to do something off the wall to shake things up.
To be clear:
It was unfortunate to see Reich shown the door as he’s a class act who departs with a winning record of 41-35-1 (.532) and two playoff appearances despite the organization’s failure to get the quarterback situation right, among other things. A raw deal for a good man and coach.
I understand the perspective of NFL folks like former Cleveland All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who was absolutely apoplectic, referring to the hiring as “disrespectful,” among other things.
I know it’s a negative that Saturday brings zero NFL coaching experience to the table, and that he has a lot of things to get his arms around in a short amount of time.
However, Saturday does arrive with 14 years of NFL experience as a player and has been closely involved in the league for the past decade as a broadcaster. So, this is no NFL neophyte we’re talking about here. Not a rube off the street.
One point that Saturday emphasized this week is his love for - and understanding of - the game and the people who play it. Here’s what he said Wednesday:
“I know I can lead men. I know I know the game of football, and I'm passionate about it. I have no fear about ‘are you as qualified as somebody else?’ Bro, I spent 14 years in a locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I've got five dudes in the Hall of Fame that played with me. You don't think I've seen greatness? You don't think I've seen how people prepare? How they coach? How they GM? How they work?”
Will Saturday work as the Colts interim head coach and ultimately be given the full-time job? It remains to be seen but here’s another thing to consider: being head coach is a lot more like being a CEO than it is being an offensive or defensive coordinator, or even a position coach. The job is, simply put, to lead and I wouldn’t be surprised if Saturday was effective.
What does success mean? Well, the Colts are 3-5-1 right now and searching for quite a few answers. Maybe success means winning two or three games. Maybe it means four wins. Or maybe it just means moving the needle in the right direction so the team can get off the mat in 2023. There is talent on this roster and, if Saturday and his coaching staff can push some of the right buttons, who knows where things will go?
Meanwhile, tonight at 8:15 pm ET on Amazon Prime, Atlanta and Carolina renew their rivalry with a pair of intriguing leaders on the sidelines in Charlotte: Atlanta’s Arthur Smith and Carolina’s Steve Wilks.
Wilks is the ultimate football journeyman as his current tour with the Panthers is his 15th stop in 28 years. Meanwhile, Smith, brings a very unique resume to the table as, while he has been at it for 17 years, the Falcons are his fifth team. He also happens to be a son of Federal Express founder and former CEO Fred Smith, which means Arthur had more pocket change than the average NFL coach growing up.
The visiting Falcons (4-5) are favored this evening, but I like how the Panthers (2-7) are playing under Wilks and expect a knockdown, drag-out affair. Let’s call it Atlanta by a field goal or so.
As for my picks, last week was decent with a 9-4 (.692) mark pushing the season record to 81-54 (.600). But let’s see how the weekend unfolds before we get too excited.
That’s it for this evening, folks. Enjoy the game and God bless!