Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday said on Monday it was a "true honor" to be the team's interim head coach over the final eight games of the 2022 season, the last of which was a 32-31 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
And while the last two months were challenging for Saturday, who pointed the difficult situation he inherited in Week 9 and the three offensive coaches the Colts were down for most of his tenure, he also looked at them as a valuable learning experience.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Saturday said. "... I have learned a ton about myself, about my leadership style, about people and how you carry yourself in difficult times. I've looked at it and learned an enormous amount. Again, I think the way you frame things and the way you respond to difficulties matters in life. Hopefully, I've represented myself the way I should in these tough times, but I've learned a ton, grateful for those lessons and hopefully I grow from them, learn from them and am better because of it."
Saturday said an interview for the Colts' permanent head coaching position hadn't been scheduled yet, but explained that if he were to get the job, "there is going to be significant change" based on what he learned since taking over in early November.
"The way I do things is not the way things necessarily have been done," Saturday said. "I have my own way. I think that's the part that as you're thinking about the way you want to run an organization as the head coach, that would be my responsibility. When I came in, I'm thrust into how things had been done for the past however many years. I'm appreciative of that, the work that they've done and the success that they've had, but it will look different.
"So, understanding that that's been part of my learning lesson. I've looked at the things that I really like about what we do, and the things that I don't necessarily like that we do. To lead an organization, there has to be alignment from all of us, from Mr. (Jim) Irsay, (Chris) Ballard, myself and the entire organization, of how this thing looks. As a leader, if you don't have that, I don't think you'd be effective.
"So, there are things that I would definitely do differently and I think that's expected no matter if it's me or somebody else, right? There's going to be change. So, when I look at that – again, I assign the last eight weeks as incredible value, that I can learn what I want to do and what I don't want to do and how to make those changes. It gives me a very unique perspective that hopefully I can use to better the team, better the organization."
The Colts, as Irsay said after hiring Saturday as interim head coach in November, will conduct an exhaustive search for their next head coach in the coming weeks. And whoever the next head coach is, whether it's Saturday or another candidate, will take over a team Saturday believes is not as far off from contending as their 4-12-1 record in 2022 may otherwise indicate.
"I don't think we're nearly as far off as you guys believe we are," Saturday said. "I think the line in football between winning and losing is very narrow. There's things that we have not done, that I believe, habits that are created in March and April and OTAs and preseason and early in the season, they pay dividends in November and December. Unfortunately, I didn't have that opportunity for all those things. Those moments matter.
"So, when you talk about how do you change – and I think somebody asked me last night, what can you pinpoint? There's been different situations when you've had the opportunity to close games and different phases haven't and for whatever reason, it's the habits that are built then. What does a close out look like? When you're on the field and you're practicing and you're driving home the details of what that looks like, how do you get that accomplished? I think that can be taught, coached and we can be better at it. Again, I think in totality is really where the most is made."