On Saturday, of all days, Jeff Saturday suffered the most embarrassing and pitiful loss in NFL history. His Indianapolis Colts blew a 33-point lead, the largest lead ever given up in an NFL game.
The Colts’ 39-36 historic loss to the Minnesota Vikings should finally put to rest any notion that it was a good idea by owner Jim Irsay to give his buddy Saturday the head-coaching job.
Saturday wasn’t qualified for the job. He had never coached in college or in the NFL before becoming the interim coach of the floundering Colts.
Almost all owners, executives, and people in the coaching fraternity thought the move was pure lunacy.
More than any other sport, coaching is vital in football. Here, Irsay went with his gut over a good resume.
The only thing worse than Irsay’s terrible decision to turn the keys of his Porsche over to a kid with no driver’s license was all the former player analysts who championed it, and endorsed it.
They would have had to put down their pom-poms to clap. It was totally embarrassing. They were hoping against hope that this half-baked pound cake would be eaten and become the norm.
That other owners would follow suit and hire former players from their teams that they liked over coaches next in line. These shameless former players simply wanted to skip the line, and go in through the back door to get an NFL handout as Saturday got.
One day he was a talking head on ESPN, the next day he was a head coach with one of just 32 coveted gigs on the planet. For sure, the players who scoffed at those against the hiring are in hiding now. They will have little to say. They will blame how bad the team is and that Saturday had an impossible job trying to turn the Colts around quickly.
You can’t have it both ways. If you want to celebrate his wins, you have to criticize his losses, too. The drum beat was that Saturday would connect better with the players because he’s a former player and a leader of men. And that that is more important than Xs and Os or knowing the rules or actually managing the game. They said Saturday would change the culture in the locker room with his presence alone.
Please. None of that has happened.
The Colts have lost four straight games. It’s gone from ugly to fugly. Fans and other media members shouldn’t allow these former cheerleaders, er, players off the hook. They were wrong about Saturday and his impact.
Pat McAfee was one of the loudest cheerleaders for Saturday and ripped critics. Of course, he’s biased because Saturday is his friend and former teammate. That’s a show you want to listen to for an honest take. Fox Sports Radio’s LaVar Arrington was onboard, too. He thinks former players make better coaches. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky was “impressed” by Saturday’s first win. Wonder how impressed he was with this latest loss. Former Colts running back Edgerrin James compared Saturday getting the job to five presidents who became president without being elected to public office. James wouldn’t get my vote on anything following that comparison.
Saturday should be fired after the season. This experiment went worse than the building of Frankenstein. At least, his head was level.
Saturday’s failure it’s just about the worst loss in franchise history. In the other three losses before this one, you could see all the mistakes he was making with game-management errors.
It showed in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In that 24-17 loss, Saturday didn’t call timeouts to stop the clock. He wound up taking two timeouts home with him. Even ESPN announcer Joe Buck questioned why Saturday didn’t call timeouts he had.
Often, Saturday has looked like a novice, a deer in headlights.
Saturday was just the moment everything came undone, the football Gods had seen enough and decided to send a message Irsay couldn’t ignore.
With 8:30 left in the third quarter, the Vikings trailed 33-0. For history purposes, since 1930, a team that has led by at least 30 points was 1,548-1-1 in NFL history before the debacle on Saturday.
The other loss was the Houston Oilers in that playoff game in 1993. Somehow, the Buffalo Bills scored 35 second-half points to erase a 35-3 deficit. Saturday’s was worse because it’s the fourth straight loss since Saturday won his debut as a head coach against the Las Vegas Raiders. Go back and check social media after that game. There were so many celebrating Saturday’s buck-the-system win. Former athletes came out of the woodwork to proclaim that Saturday proved anyone who played the game could coach and didn’t need any experience.
Those dudes were wrong, mad wrong.
Saturday, they thought, we’re going to change the way coaches are hired in the NFL. He didn’t. Instead, he probably nailed shut the back door all these former players thought they were going to follow Saturday through. And that’s a good thing.