INDIANAPOLIS – The Jeff Saturday era is underway.
At least from a practice standpoint, with the Colts holding their first practice of Raiders week on Wednesday.
What did we learn from the Colts first practice of the week under Saturday?
- There’s no question the Colts have a different type of leader at head coach in Jeff Saturday. Words from Colts players in the locker room to describe Saturday’s impressions from the first team meeting on Wednesday: “Juice. Intense. High-energy. Transparent. Honest. Passionate.” The ‘juice, intensity’ comments are definitely a contrast from Frank Reich. Saturday easily wins a press conference with his outward energy. His leadership is arguably his greatest quality and you immediately feel that in his presence. Saturday’s passionate about being a leader. It’s a new voice, new message and new energy now in front of the Colts. Will it matter though at the mid-way point of the season?
- Will the Colts be a bit less aggressive under Jeff Saturday? Jim Irsay certainly didn’t sound like a huge analytics fan on Monday night and it sounds like Saturday will be less likely to push the envelope on 4th down. “I’m an offensive lineman, I work too hard to get points,” Saturday said on Wednesday. “I’m going to take points.”
- A story Jeff Saturday shared from this past Sunday had Jim Irsay calling him from the visiting Owner’s box in Foxborough. Saturday clarified the in-game conversation was more “what the hell is going on?” from Irsay about the offensive line issues, and not about taking over from Reich. Still, it was very interesting to hear his anecdote of what Irsay thinks of Saturday. Another note on Saturday and the Colts offensive line, he’s been working as a consultant with offensive line coach Chris Strausser. Saturday said he would not necessarily be taking on a more direct role with the OL, and you’re curious how much influencing he was having from afar. Remember Frank Reich and Strausser brought Howard Mudd in a few years ago, and that’s a name Saturday adores.
- Saturday reiterated on several times Wednesday he fully realizes this is an 8-game trial, for both the Colts to evaluate him, and for him to evaluate this sort of job. Saturday acknowledges he has a ton to prove to his players, fellow coaches and everyone around the NFL if he deserves this job full-time. He’s perfectly content with seeing how this 2-month experience goes and whatever the future holds for him, and the head coach position of the Colts.
- Parks Frazier will indeed be calling the plays for the Colts on Sunday, Jeff Saturday confirmed. Here’s more on Frazier’s background and why the Colts are making this move. Frazier is the coach who taught Sam Ehlinger this offense when Ehlinger was drafted last April. Still, this is Ehlinger’s third different OC in his 3 NFL starts. That’s unheardof. On the coaching staff front, Saturday will continue to let Gus Bradley and Bubba Ventrone handle their respective units, with no outside hires for the rest of the season.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, Matt Ryan met the media on Wednesday. He said he’s “getting there” in his right shoulder rehab, but is still not practicing. It’ll be interesting to see if the Colts continue with Ehlinger as the starting QB for the rest of the season or if we see Nick Foles and/or Ryan under center.
- Good injury return news with Jonathan Taylor (ankle) back practicing on Wednesday. During the media portion of Wednesday’s practice, guys that didn’t appear to be practicing included: TE-Jelani Woods (shoulder), Mo Alie-Cox (boot on right foot), Jordan Wilkins, Deon Jackson.
- Wide receiver Ashton Dulin (foot) returned to practice on Wednesday, and that begins a 21-day window for him to return to the 53-man roster.
- The Colts will maintain their normal practice routine this week under Jeff Saturday, going Wednesday-Friday. They’re off to Las Vegas this weekend for a 4:05 PM kickoff.