Former Colts coach Tony Dungy was as shocked as everyone else when Jim Irsay named Jeff Saturday as the team’s interim head coach. But after some time to think about it, the Hall of Famer understands the rationale behind the move.
“I was shocked about the Frank (Reich) news, because I just felt like the team was still in it. This has been a crazy year in the NFL,” he said on Kevin and Query earlier this week. “You look at a team like Green Bay, who was on a four-game losing streak. Things like that were going on. The Colts are right in the middle of the race, and I’m thinking, ‘Frank will get this going.’ But once they made the decision, then you start thinking, ‘Who is going to take over? Who’s Jim going to get?’ You look at people on the staff, and that could work. But, Jeff, the more I thought about it, it was really kind of logical. He had been with the organization for a long time. He had been with Frank in training camp, he knew the offense. He knew the terminology. There’s very few people you could get from the outside that would have that. And he had this relationship with Jim. He’s the guy who was a leader. He could galvanize the locker room, and the offensive line was the one unit that was underperforming, so who better than Jeff Saturday to maybe re-energize that offensive line? At first you say, ‘This is weird, this is crazy,’ but then the more you really thought about it, it made sense.”
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There has been much discussion about Irsay’s level of involvement with the day-to-day operations of the football team, from Matt Ryan’s benching to Reich’s firing to naming Saturday as his replacement. Dungy, who coached the Colts from 2002-2008 and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2006, said Irsay was more hands-off during his tenure. He said Irsay never made any decision involving playing time or trading players.
“He’s definitely been more vocal,” Dungy said. “He’s part of it and seems more involved in the decision-making process. I didn’t see that side of Jim when I was there. We’d have the conversation. He had his input. He talked to us. Social media, I guess it’s just getting bigger and more out there now than then I’m used to, but Jim is an involved owner, and he does have convictions. You’re seeing more of that.”
Dungy coached Saturday for seven seasons, and says the ingredients are there for him to be a successful NFL head coach.
“Jeff is a leader. Jeff is a people person. Jeff is a winner,” Dungy said. “A lot of things that you’re looking for, he had as an offensive center. He’s involved in a lot of the game planning. He’s involved in a lot of how we’re going to do it. Peyton (Manning) would change plays at the line of scrimmage. ‘Jeff, how are we going to block this?’ in two seconds, making decisions, letting other people know. He’s running offensive line meetings and helping other people. He’s communicating with everybody. He had that training. He had a lot of things in place that you need to be a coach, he just didn’t have experience. I saw where Jim was going with it. Yes, it’s unconventional. But there were a lot of things that Jeff had that people don’t realize that made him an attractive candidate.”
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts: Tony Dungy says Jeff Saturday is ‘logical’ choice as coach