From the start, Jeff Saturday acknowledged the unique situation in which he found himself upon being asked by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to take over as the team's interim head coach Nov. 7.
Saturday, of course, had no prior professional or collegiate coaching experience, but he had a notable 13-year NFL playing career at center, one of the game's most cerebral positions, and he was surrounded by greatness in the form of multiple Hall of Fame players, coaches, and front office executives. That, matched with Saturday's leadership style and knowledge of the current Colts team as a consultant, made Irsay comfortable enough to offer his former All-Pro player the interim job through the remainder of the season.
Now more than a month into his new role, Saturday is starting to get acclimated to the demands placed upon an NFL head coach on a daily basis — of which there are many. And while Irsay has said the Colts will conduct a thorough search for their next head coach this offseason, Saturday told reporters on Tuesday that he's planning on pushing his chips to the middle of the table and pursuing the full-time position, if the team feels he should be on its list of candidates.
"I've loved it. I've had a great time," Saturday said prior to the Colts' first practice of the week to prepare for this Saturday's Week 15 road matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. "This has been fantastic. It's crazy for me because I went from being in the media and not paying any attention purposefully, right, because I know, I'm sure not everything written about us or me is positive. I'm good with that; I knew kind of what I was signing up for. But, man, I've loved this. I've had a great time. I love the unity in the locker room, I love the staff and working with guys and the strategy that goes in with this. And so, again, this has been a lot of fun. W's make things a lot more fun, but that's what we've got to get to."
Inheriting a 3-5-1 Colts squad midway through the season, Saturday led Indianapolis to victory in his head coaching debut on the road Week 10 against the Las Vegas Raiders, 25-20. The following week, the Colts went to the wire against the NFL's top team to this point of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles, suffering a narrow one-point loss, 17-16. The team has fallen in its two games since that Eagles matchup — to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys — but have the benefit of fresh legs heading into this week's Vikings matchup thanks to the bye week.
The Vikings have the NFC's second-best record at 10-3, but are coming off a tough loss to an up-and-coming Detroit Lions team.
"We talked about the focus after the bye week, and don't be denied what you should be doing. That means go take advantage of all the matchups you have," Saturday said. "And so I've challenged each guy individually, just talked about where we need to be, what we need to see, from each guy in particular, and the progress that we want to see being made. Again, we've made some progress — obviously, the Dallas game is the last one we had, that's an awful taste in your mouth the way we finished that game — but we have to continue to get better in certain areas, and everybody has a job they have to go get better at. But job No. 1 is beating Minnesota.
"You've got a four-game season, and when I look at this, we're very capable of winning all four, but you've got to start in Minnesota. And they've got a lot to play for, playing for the division, at their place, getting beat by Detroit. Like I said, nobody feels sorry for you in this league; they're going to come at you full-tilt. And so, expect their best, and then show them what your best looks like."
Adams to Stanford
Saturday on Tuesday confirmed that Colts tight ends coach Klayton Adams has accepted a job on the offensive staff at Stanford.
"Congratulations to him," Saturday said of Adams. "I talked to him a couple days ago, and I'm excited for that opportunity for he and his family going close to home. Obviously we will miss him here — enjoyed working with him — but he's on to those things."
Adams joined the Colts' coaching staff in 2019 as an assistant offensive line coach. In 2021, he was promoted to tight ends coach.
The new job will be a homecoming of sorts for Adams, who was born in Sacramento and attended Sheldon High School in Elk Grove, Calif.
Adams' departure means the Colts' offensive staff will once again be required to shuffle some important duties. Saturday said assistant offensive line coach Kevin Mawae will take over as the team's tight ends coach, while wide receivers coach Reggie Wayne will also take on some additional duties by helping the tight ends group with their route-running concepts.
"Yeah, we're just adding to it, right? Asking fewer guys to do more," Saturday said of his offensive staff. "Yeah, we've kind of assigned the duties that Klayton had, we've kind of split those up amongst the group — everybody's kind of taken a little more of a share of that — but, again, it's just one of those things when you've had staff change the way we've had throughout the season, this lends towards it. So we'll spread it — it won't go to one guy; we'll kind of spread it out a little bit. And we'll be fine. A little bit longer hours here, but we'll get it squared away."
Tuesday's practice report: