The Colts Mailbag is back! Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here, or by taking part in the Colts.com Forums. You can also send your questions to @JJStankevitz on Twitter.
Let's get after this week's questions:
Thomas Carter, Fishers, Ind.: I believe Coach Saturday will have a ton of great value to bring to the team in the 2022 season and beyond. What is one thing he knows they can be better at starting next game?
Replacing a Super Bowl winning coach is never easy so best of luck to the organization from a first one season ticket owner!
JJ Stankevitz: It starts with eliminating self-inflicted mistakes and then executing playcalls, especially in critical moments. The Colts' 17 giveaways are tied for the most in the NFL, and the team's minus-eight turnover differential is 31st. And only the Denver Broncos have scored touchdowns when inside the red zone at a lower rate than the Colts (44 percent).
So reversing those big-picture issues that've contributed to the Colts' 3-5-1 record is Saturday's first point of order.
"I believe this is a good football team," Saturday said. "They've played in some games where they haven't played their best. The players have to step up and make plays. The talent is definitely there. These guys have it.
"Can't beat ourselves, made a lot of mistakes. Biggest point of emphasis on offense, don't turn the ball over. That pigskin controls 53 of you and a whole lot of others livelihoods. That thing has got to stay with us. On the other side, get that thing out. It's fairly simple. That was the main message is we can't beat ourselves. We have to play consistent football, be disciplined, be tough, be fast, be physical. All the things that I believe in as a man and as a football player, just breathing that into them.
"Then, the expectation is we execute and execute means that we do what we're coached to do. Ain't no adlibbing. You can't fix problems if we adlib. We do what we're asked to do so we're all on one page. We can make corrections when needed and hopefully that formula wins."
Harold Miller, Bedford, Ind.: I loved Jeff Saturday as a player, I am sure he knows the game inside and out, but do you see him as the leader they need?
JJ Stankevitz: Without question, Harold – every player I talked to on Wednesday said Saturday made a strong first impression through his leadership. And if you need more convincing, just watch Saturday's press conference on Wednesday.
Here's one of the most compelling parts of an incredibly compelling press conference:
"Here's the deal, I'm completely comfortable in who I am as a man," Saturday said. "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? I spent 14 years in the locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I've got five dudes in the Hall of Fame that I played with. 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? I've won Super Bowls, been to two.
"Here's the deal man, none of us are promised a good job. I may be terrible at this and after eight games, I'll say, 'God bless you. I am no good.' I may be really good at it. I have no idea, but I dang sure ain't going to back down. I can tell you that. If life ain't an adventure, it ain't for me."I'm ready to go do this. I take a challenge head-on."
Kathi Sexton, Bradenton, Fla.: Is Jeff Saturday as coach temporary, or will the Colts see how team the does? Why did Chris get to stay?
JJ Stankevitz: Saturday is the interim head coach, and at the end of the 2022 season, the Colts will conduct a thorough interview process to hire their permanent head coach. Depending on how things go in the next two months, Saturday may be considered for the opening. And he's clear-eyed about what his role is, and how the process will go come January.
"I know the question is probably going to be asked, the Rooney Rule – I'll be honest with you, it's an important rule," Saturday said. "I do not diminish it one second. I believe and understand fully why it is as important as it is. I don't minimize. This is important.
"My role here is for eight games. When this is over, they will do an exhaustive search and pick whoever their best candidate is to be the head coach of the Colts. If I'm considered, I'd be honored. I have no idea where this thing is going to go – not even a little bit. But I can assure you that's going to be handled. From the organization's perspective, from my perspective as a man, I'm good.
"... Everybody can say whatever they want. I appreciate that, but from my perspective, when I was asked and they said they were following every rule – at the end of the season, you aren't promised anything. Perfect. Let's go with that and I'll move forward. If I'm no good and Mr. Irsay looks at me and goes, 'Hey, we appreciate you. Thanks for stepping in. Job well done.' I'm grateful for the opportunity."
As for Ballard, Irsay said on Monday he "of course" expects his general manager to be with the organization next season.
"There's no question about that," Irsay said. "Honestly, it's not really even in the consciousness of my mind about that sort of thing. Look it, Chris was highly sought after when he came here. It was a great indication this organization – that he wanted to come here. He could've gone anywhere he wanted. He's been executive of the year before.
"You guys can try to diminish him all you want, but that's just your words. They have no substance to it because there is no truth in it. I mean, the guy is a winner and he's been immensely successful. No one is perfect in this game. We all lose a lot in this league. You know how many shots Michael Jordan has missed? You know how many games Michael Jordan has lost? I mean, in this league it's tough and sometimes you don't understand how fortunate you are when you're around success because you think that's the norm. But it's not. And he fits right into that culture.
"... I think from my perspective, we're fortunate to have Chris. I think Chris and Frank (Reich) both take responsibility for shortcomings, and they shouldn't in my opinion. Everyone is going to have shortcomings. Look at it, they are way above the curve. Bill Polian got fired twice basically (laughing). It's the way it rolls in this league. But you try to get the right mixture going at the right time. We're fortunate to have this guy and we know it's about winning. It's not only when you don't win, but it's how you lose. There are different ways of losing. There's a lot to consider before we would ever make a change like this – too much for me to even be able to convey to you because that's how much thought process goes into it."
Yogi Pandya, Avon, Ind.: Was Jeff Saturday ever offered a job as offensive line coach this year with Frank Reich?
JJ Stankevitz: I don't know if Saturday was ever officially offered a job, but the Colts did try to hire him twice – first in 2019 as offensive line coach, and then for a role with the team in 2022.
"The timing didn't work out," Ballard said. "I spent a lot of time with Jeff – like I have with a few of the ex-players here, and it doesn't take long to figure out that he's got real leadership in him, real special in that regard. For this eight-game stretch and where we're at, we thought he was going to be a really good fit for us."
Dextin Baker, Phenix City, Ala.: Do you think Jim Irsay has the team tanking since we hired Saturday? And bringing in Saturday for what needs improvement on things he can look at? And also if the team is not tanking, you think we still have a chance to make the playoffs?
JJ Stankevitz: Short answer on tanking, no, and that's a million-percent "no."
The idea behind tanking is to try to lose games – and there's not a single player in that locker room, or coach on the coaching staff, who is trying to lose games. Have you ever met a professional athlete? These men and women get to where they are because, in part, they're wired to be the most competitive people in a room, on a field, etc.
And Irsay has that same competitive fire. Losing is not acceptable around here.
But since the narrative is out there – which does not mean it's true – I wanted to talk to a team leader about it. And I thought linebacker Zaire Franklin, a three-time team captain, had an interesting perspective on it.
"It was mad interesting just being on the other side of that," Franklin, a Philadelphia native, said. "As a Sixers fan, we kind of assumed we were tanking for mad long. And I can only imagine what it felt to be a guy on that team."
Franklin, like everyone else, spent time scrolling social media on Monday and saw everything that's been said about the Colts. But he also didn't put much stock into it, knowing the kind of players, coaches and leaders assembled inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I didn't take it too serious," Franklin said. "I know how the media is — when you lose, the sky is falling and when you win, it's nothing but flowers and sunshine. I understand that it's been a little grim, we're on a little losing streak right now but all it takes is one to change the weather."
Anthony Riley, Huntington, W.V.: Who's calling the offensive plays now?
JJ Stankevitz: Saturday announced on Wednesday Parks Frazier, the Colts' pass game specialist/assistant quarterbacks coach, will call offensive plays. Saturday's reasoning behind giving Frazier that responsibility was twofold: First, he knows the offense inside and out, and is the longest-tenured coach on the offensive side of the ball. Second, promoting him allows other position coaches – like quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich and running backs coach Scottie Montgomery, both of whom have playcalling experience – to have continuity in their roles. And, notably, Frazier has worked closely with quarterback Sam Ehlinger since the Colts drafted him in 2021.
A shorter explanation: Frazier offers the Colts both deep offensive knowledge and stability in becoming the team's playcaller.
"He's been here since 2018," Saturday said. "He knows the offense extremely well. We've had two guys on the staff who have called plays, being Scottie Montgomery and Scott Milanovich. Both of those guys are going to be heavily involved. We're all going to be heavily involved in trying to help Parks put together the best game plan we can. I've got full confidence he's going to do the right thing, put us in the right plays and ultimately players have to go execute them and go make it happen."