Colts fans launch a petition to keep Jeff Saturday from being head coach

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Jeff Saturday is one of four reported so far for the Colts head coaching job. It’s a growing list, one that could reach at least seven candidates and features former coaches, Super Bowl-winning assistants and current coordinators.

They are experienced coaches, which Saturday is not, and they have a reputation in the coaching profession. Being included in this final group for this type of work, has rubbed a portion of the Colts fan base the wrong way.

Now, they are trying to do something about it.

Colts fans are sharing a petition through Change.org titled, “Don’t hire Jeff Saturday as head coach.” It launched Wednesday afternoon, and by afternoon, it had more than 900 verified signatures.

Shawn Ward, the fan who launched the page, directed his message to owner Jim Irsay.

“We as Colts fans will always cherish the memories of the XLI (Super Bowl) team but we don’t want Jeff Saturday as the head coach of this team!” Ward wrote. “Hire someone with experience and save your fan base continue from revolution.”

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis.

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Minneapolis.

By signing and sharing the petition and tweeting the hashtag #SaturdayLeave in Ireland, fans are voicing their frustration at the man in charge.

The Twitter hashtag and Change.org petition represent only a small portion of Colts fans, especially compared to the 60,000 fans that fill Ola Lucas Stadium. But Ireland is the most active NFL owner on Twitter.

The response shows that hiring Saturday would be an unpopular move with some fans. In an IndyStar Twitter survey of coaching candidates with more than 2,000 responses, 93% voted against the idea of ​​hiring on Saturday.

With general manager Chris Ballard running the search, the Colts have interviewed 13 different candidates so far. But the final decision rests with the one the tweets and petition are aimed at.

“In the end, Mr. Irsaigh makes the final call. There are 32 teams, 32 owners. They own the team,” said Ballard. “We give it to him, these are our thoughts, and Mr. Irsay is a good listener. In the end, he will make the final call but he will put a lot of weight on our work and what we do to engage the coaching candidates.”

Irsay’s love for his 13-year-old center became clear when he was hired midseason to take over a 3-5-1 team despite not coaching above high school level. Saturday won his first game with the Raiders before losing to finish 1-7.

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Fans who signed the petition were outraged by the low levels on the road, causing the biggest drop in NFL history against the Vikings, the fourth worst season in history NFL vs. Cowboys and a -87 point differential in those eight games. Some urged the franchise to make him an offensive line coach instead, given his playing experience and the progress the Colts made in that area after he took over.

Saturday inherited a poor offense and a short coaching staff at midseason, and he has promised in interviews that he would introduce a very different plan of attack for how he would have run the team with a full run to a 17 game season. . Players like DeForest Buckner and Shaquille Leonard talked about the impact he brought to the team, even though it wasn’t going to be results on the field.

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He goes up against a final group so far that includes a two-time Super Bowl champion in Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, a longtime defensive coordinator coming off a second straight finish in the five with the Cowboys in Dan Quinn, and the rising Broncos defensive coordinator. in Ejiro Evero, who has also had interviews with the Broncos and Texans.

The group is expected to grow three or four more candidates, depending on whether 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans decides to reschedule the first interview he canceled with the team last week. Ryans is one of several Colts candidates preparing for playoff games this week, along with Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

The Colts have promised a fair and thorough process that could last until February if needed. They have met the conditions of the Rooney Rule, as Bieniemy, Evero and Morris are minor candidates from outside the organization, and the Colts also interviewed Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

But while Saturday is still running, some fans fear that a decision has already been made.

“I like the man on Saturday, but we have to be better than last year,” Colts fan Josh Cunningham wrote of the petition. “Going down this path is a commitment to lose and no I supported that.”

Contact Colts insider Nate Atkins at natkins@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter @NateAtkins_.

This article first appeared on the Indianapolis Star: Colts fans launch petition to keep Jeff Saturday from coaching

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