PITTSBURGH — The hiring of interim head coach Jeff Saturday by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this month has sparked some controversy, both because departed head coach Frank Reich was a well-respected member of the coaching community and because Saturday had no coaching experience above the high school level before he got the job.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher spoke out against the hiring of Saturday, calling it a disgrace to the coaching profession, because Saturday lacked the experience of other viable candidates, including two former NFL head coaches that are on the Colts staff in John Fox and Gus Bradley.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin chose not to take a stance on the hiring of Saturday when he was asked about it on Tuesday in advance of the Steelers’ trip to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Monday Night Football this week.
“My opinion doesn’t matter,” Tomlin said. “I’m not a part of that organization. I’m not a part of the decision making process. I know Jeff. I like Jeff. I think he’s a dynamic personality and football lover and charismatic leader. But I have no opinion worth mentioning regarding their hiring practices or that selection in particular. It’s irrelevant to me. I’m focused on the preparation of this group relative to us stepping into the stadium against that group on Monday night.”
In that regard, facing Saturday will be something of a challenge. The Steelers and Tomlin have only two games of film on what Saturday will be like as a head coach to go on. The change in head coach also came with changes to the play-callers for the Colts on offense, so it will be a fairly different looking unit than the one that started the season.
“I worry less about the intangibles because those things are outside of my control,” Tomlin said. “I know Jeff Saturday. I got to know him over the years. I know the position he played. And I would imagine that he has an affinity for establishing a run. And that’s why I led with Jonathan Taylor, for example, and so common sense analysis.
“But we also have two games to look at, eight quarters body of work to put with the others and see the things that are the same, to analyze the things that are different. I would imagine it was a deal for the Vegas Raiders a couple of weeks ago. I think with each passing day it becomes less of a deal and more about, preparedness and quality of play for all parties involved.”
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, who worked for the Colts under Reich, said his team’s win over Indianapolis this week was “for Frank Reich.” The Fritz Pollard Alliance has initiated an inquiry into whether the Colts violated the NFL’s Rooney Rule by hiring Saturday without interviewing any minority candidates.