Right? Did you say that when you saw the news of Jeff Saturday? I would wager the vast majority of us either said it or thought it. The Indianapolis Colts sent Monday into chaos by first announcing the firing of Frank Reich. While not entirely out of left field, the timing was undoubtedly unexpected. The Colts looked awful on Sunday and many of us (myself included) fancied Reich a dead man coaching as soon as the weird choice to bench Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger broke. But to see Reich ended mid-season was still a solid eyebrow-raiser. Well. We’d have some nice discussion content this week!

Roughly an hour later all hell broke loose.

I must have stared at the announcement tweet by Shefter for 5 minutes trying to figure out if it was a fake account and I was being punked. I then scrambled to look and see if Saturday has been on the Colts as a coach in some capacity and I just didn’t know, and I was confounded to discover that no, I was not missing anything. The Colts indeed hired their former all-pro center, with no NFL or collegiate coaching experience, AT ALL, to the interim position. WHAT THE FUCK

There is so much to unpack here. I’ll try to get to all I can think of, but the past few days have been a whirlwind of laughter and genuine shock.

Once my brain managed to process that this was actually happening, my initial reaction was absolute jubilation. Those of you who have been around a while know my penchant for chaos. I desire nonsense. I crave it. The disaster of the unknown feeds my soul. This is, without a doubt, EXTREMELY HIGH CHAOS. (So much that it has inspired something else on my end that should be revealed in the next week). A team hiring a former player with no experience to hold down the fort for half a season is unprecedented and I am EXTREMELY here for it. I have no idea how any of this will go. I just know the Colts are now a must-watch. They are an out-of-control train screaming down the tracks and I’m sitting there with a bag of popcorn waiting for the whole thing. But my personal preferences for nonsense aside, there is a lot more to this that is less fun.

I’ll start off with another positive though. I’ve long held the belief that interim coaches should be experiments and free testing of unproven talent. It’s so painful when you see a team fire a coach midseason and then give the job to a Romeo Crennel or Steve Wilks. They already had the job once. They sucked. Nobody wants to watch these dudes who already failed hold down a fort for 4+ weeks. This is the best time in the world to give an unproven body a test run. Grab a hotshot coach from the assistant staff, someone up and coming, and give them the reigns. What’s the harm here? Every coach is likely getting fired by season’s end anyway, let someone try to prove themselves before they go into the wild. The Jason Garretts and Jon Foxes of the world will have little trouble finding more work, but the other guys without that resume…give them that spotlight. We’ve had plenty of good coaches start out from this spot. Bruce Arians was technically an interim when Pagano got sick. Dan Campbell filled in for Miami after Philbin got canned. Interims should be a free opportunity to give back to the lesser names. So in that respect, I am all for the Colts being unconventional here. The problem is they steered too far in the opposite direction.

The Colts didn’t give the job to anyone on their staff. They didn’t give the job to anyone on another staff. They took a former player with no credentials outside coaching a high school football team for a few years. It’s the Josh McCown for Houston story, only it actually happened. The Colts had both options for interims on their staff. Jon Fox and Gus Bradley were the old experienced fogies that none of us wanted to watch but would do the job. Bubba Ventrone could have been an option though, and Reggie Wayne, while fresh, is also a former player who could have theoretically done this job. Several other options with lots of experience at other non-HC positions. Why not give it to one of these guys? Why pass over all of them for Jeff Saturday?

So this is basically an insult to everyone on staff and an alarming precedent to other teams’ staff. While I hate the same old cycle of guys getting the jobs over and over, at least they put the work in to get there. Jeff was just chilling at ESPN doing analysis and got promoted over everyone, even for what we all assume is basically a temp job. This is not to mention the entire race angle, which has become a more visible concern in recent years. Black coaches struggle to get promotions year after year and fight tooth and nail to make it, but the gigs are routinely given to retread white guys who already failed before (like McDaniels) or, more recently, young white guys with some tie to a successful experimental coach, aka the McVay effect. Sometimes, and this always seems to bust out, guys are given jobs because they bolstered their resumes by working with a legend who really didn’t need them. AKA Adam Gase and now, Nathaniel Hackett. Todd Bowles, one of the few black coaches to break through, got hired as an interim in Miami after Sparano. The system can absolutely work in these guys’ favor. Passing them all over for a former player you are a friend with is fucked up.

None of this is meant as an insult to Jeff Saturday, more of a systemic issue and an insult to Irsay. Jeff is by all accounts, a nice guy. But I also have to wonder what the hell his role is in all this. Why did Jeff even take the job? Did Irsay send a mayflower truck of money to his house? Is he there to be a functional babysitter and report on the roster as a toadie to Irsay or is he actually there to potentially be the guy?  I don’t know! Jeff’s participation in this farce is the most puzzling to me. He could have entered the coaching circles at any time these past ten years. He could have gotten a job in the Colts organization any time this past decade. He didn’t. He was an ESPN analyst and coached a little bit at a podunk high school. What was Irsay’s pitch and why did Jeff say yes? None of the answers we naturally speculate here are particularly flattering.

This brings me to my final point, and the one likely to get me in trouble. Is Irsay…doing okay?

Maybe it’s me being influenced by watching the artist formerly known as Kanye West have public bipolar manic episodes tanking his reputation but Irsay’s behavior recently is kinda strange. He’s had documented issues with addiction and mental health concerns. He’s certainly no stranger to being weird. Benching Matt Ryan was odd, but in a vacuum was fairly simple to come up with explanations for. Calling out Snyder publicly was great, but also not something owners normally do. Now this entire mess. In the press conference announcing Saturday he almost sounded unhinged, making bizarre quotes and being borderline hostile to reporters. I’m worried Irsay is having some more personal difficulties, and I’d say he deserves empathy for that, but these decisions are affecting a lot of people and if he is indeed having some trouble I hope he can right the ship soon.

I have no idea what the hell is going on in Indianapolis but I guess we will just have to see where this roller coaster goes from here.