INDIANAPOLIS – Outside of 14 teams in the NFL, this Monday brings out the trash bags and boxes for players on non-playoff teams packing up for the offseason.
The Colts were one of those teams on Monday, as the organization faces major questions entering the 2023 offseason.
Before Chris Ballard meets the media for his season-ending press conference on Tuesday morning, Monday was about hearing from players and Jeff Saturday for the final time this year.
What did we learn from locker room clean out day for the Colts?
- Yes, Jeff Saturday wants the Colts head coaching gig on a permanent basis. And if he were to get it, Saturday said he would bring ‘significant change’ to the organization, while keeping those details to himself. “That’s a great question and one I’m going to hold tight to the vest,” Saturday said on Monday. “Hopefully that sets me apart. I have a very clear vision of how I can turn this around.” Saturday has not yet had a head coaching interview with Jim Irsay. Saturday said if he got the job, he was under the assumption Chris Ballard would still be the GM. Saturday, as he’s been throughout this two-month gig, was very defensive in how true of an evaluation his 1-7 record should be in weighing his candidacy. Saturday said if he were to get the head coaching job, he will hire an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Saturday would be the ‘CEO type head coach’ overseeing his coordinators, and not ‘leading’ one particular side of the ball. What does this mean for Gus Bradley and/or Bubba Ventrone?
- One disagreement that Saturday has is comparing his interim gig (1-7) to that of Steve Wilks in Carolina (6-6). While Saturday walked into a pretty foreign situation, the Colts were 3-5-1 before his arrival, compared to the Panthers at 1-4. Despite Carolina firing their defensive coordinator, playing 4 different quarterbacks under Wilks (Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold, Jacob Eason), they got back into the NFC South mix and remained in the hunt until January. That wasn’t the case for the Colts as their season spiraled to embarrassing proportions under Saturday. “I didn’t get brought in under my circumstances, under my way of doing things,” Saturday stressed on Monday. “You’re operating within the boundaries that have already been placed…”
- Matt Ryan, 37, said to not expect any imminent retirement announcement from him in the coming days. In fact, Ryan said he thinks he still has “good football” left in him. Ryan, who is under contract for one more year with the Colts, said he hasn’t made any commitment for 2023, whether that’s him playing and/or playing in Indianapolis. If the Colts cut Ryan, he will count $18 million against the cap for 2023. If he retires, it’ll be $6 million. Ryan added he doesn’t need surgery on his injured right shoulder.
- Shaquille Leonard sounded totally different on Monday talking about how he’s reacted for a November back surgery, compared to how he felt after a June procedure. Leonard said the nerves in his calf area are firing much better, which was not the case back in June. Leonard says he feels much more sensation in that area of body, with the goal now of re-building that strength throughout his leg. Interestingly, Leonard gave tons of credit to Jeff Saturday for pushing the linebacker to shutting down his 2022 season early and opting for another surgery. And, yes, Leonard is still keeping all those social media receipts for those doubting his ability to return and play at a high level.
- In a Colts season void of many good stories, Parris Campbell was a major bright spot. You could feel the relief from Campbell talking on Monday, having just played a full 17-game season, which also comes in a contract year. Campbell had played in just 15 games in his first three seasons. Not only was Campbell hardly ever seen on the injury report in 2022, he showed some nice production with 63 catches for 623 yards this year. On Monday, Campbell said he ‘absolutely’ wants to return to Indy as he embarks on his first time as an NFL free agent.
- Jonathan Taylor is unsure yet if he will need right ankle surgery entering the offseason. That right ankle caused persistent issues for Taylor, with him eventually landing on injured reserve last month. Taylor didn’t have a comment on if he expects to receive a contract extension this offseason. Taylor has one more year left on his four-year rookie deal.
- Wasn’t able to catch up too long with Kenny Moore on Monday, but he did express some regret in how he handled his contract ‘holdout’ from last spring. Moore has one year left on his contract in Indy. Before an ankle injury ended his season, Moore had some struggles in adjusting to a specific role in Gus Bradley’s system.