Media members talk with Chris Ballard, general manager, Jim Irsay, owner, and new interim head coach Jeff Saturday, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, during a press conference at the Colts headquarters in Indianapolis.

Colts GM: QB tops lengthy offseason priority list

Colts general manager Chris Ballard plans to interview multiple candidates for head coach in Indianapolis, including interim Jeff Saturday.

But his most important offseason objective was clear in his end-of-season press conference Tuesday: The Colts are ready to go all-in to find a quarterback.

Ballard was direct and self-deprecating Tuesday summarizing where the Colts stand after ending the season with seven consecutive losses and a 4-12-1 record. The Colts begin another January without a long-term answer under center, among other pressing concerns.

“I failed,” Ballard said, assessing where the team went wrong in 2022.

Frank Reich was fired as head coach Nov. 7 as the Colts installed Saturday directly from a job talking football in the ESPN NFL studio. Saturday played for the Colts during his career, including snapping to Peyton Manning for most of his career.

Reich had a 40-33-1 record in four-plus seasons and was 3-5-1 in 2022.

“We live in a world (in the NFL) where failure’s not allowed. When you fail in this world you get canceled and everybody wants your head,” Ballard said Tuesday. “And rightfully so in some cases. But if you’re able to go through it and learn from it, you can reach your greatest heights.”

Saturday won his first game, 25-20 at Las Vegas, but lost the next seven in a row.

He will be among the candidates the Colts will interview starting this week, Ballard confirmed. He also admitted owner Jim Irsay, who hand-picked Saturday as the interim coach, will have a heavy hand in any final decision at the position.

After finding a head coach, Ballard said he has to do “whatever it takes” to resolve the constant carousel at quarterback that has consumed the franchise since Andrew Luck retired in August 2019.

“You have to start at quarterback. When you’re changing quarterbacks every year, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s tough on the team.”

After trying stopgap options Jacoby Brissett (2019) and near-retirement Philip Rivers (2020), trades for Carson Wentz (2021) and Matt Ryan (2022) proved fruitless.

Ballard worked with Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles in the Kansas City Chiefs scouting department. He said Tuesday he won’t hesitate to make a move if the Colts, who pick fourth in the first round, feel the need to move up in the 2023 draft.

“We understand the magnitude of where we’re at in the draft,” Ballard said. “And we understand the importance of the position. To get one that you can win with and be right is the most important thing.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Jeff Saturday before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Fritz Pollard Alliance probing Colts hire of Jeff Saturday

NFL interim coach promotions are not subject to the diversity-driven Rooney Rule, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance formally opened an inquiry into the Indianapolis Colts’ decision to replace Frank Reich with former player Jeff Saturday.

“In light of the recent interim head coaching hire in Indianapolis, the FPA has initiated an inquiry with the NFL into whether this hiring process conformed with NFL Hiring Guidelines for naming an interim Head Coach,” a statement from the organization said.

Hiring guidelines for NFL head coaches demand two minority candidates receive formal interviews for the vacancy. That is not the case for interim coaches, whether promoted from the existing coaching staff or the more uncommon path taken by owner Jim Irsay in pulling Saturday from a studio seat at ESPN.

Irsay said at the press conference to introduce Saturday that the only problem was media “make it a problem or perception.”

Saturday’s only coaching experience was at the high school level. One former Saturday teammate, receivers coach Reggie Wayne, was on Reich’s coaching staff but said he wasn’t considered for the interim post.

Wayne said this week he wouldn’t have accepted Reich’s offer to be an assistant coach after three years of pestering had he known how it all would end. Wayne said if the Colts had offered him the job over Saturday, a teammate for a decade in Indy, he would have taken it.

“(Expletive) yeah,” Wayne said.

Irsay said the commitment between the Colts and Saturday would not change plans to follow a full review and interview process for the permanent position in the offseason.

“At the end of the season, there will be a full process of reviewing permanent head coach, which we will have an interview process for and go from there. This is for eight games and hopefully more,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) attempts a pass as Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (91) looks to deflect the play during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan, Colts top Raiders in Jeff Saturday’s coaching debut

Matt Ryan’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell with just over five minutes left rallied the visiting Indianapolis Colts to a 25-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

Ryan went 21-for-28 passing for 222 yards with one touchdown passing and one rushing, while Jonathan Taylor rushed for 147 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, on 22 carries.

Campbell finished with seven receptions for 76 yards as the Colts (4-5-1) ended a three-game losing streak by giving interim coach Jeff Saturday the first win of his coaching career.

Derek Carr went 24-for-38 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns, while Davante Adams finished with nine receptions for 126 yards for the Raiders (2-7), who dropped their third straight game. Josh Jacobs rushed for 78 yards and a score on 21 carries.

Ryan was playing his first game since injuring his shoulder against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 23. It was Taylor’s first game after being sidelined with an injured ankle following a loss to the Washington Commanders on Oct. 30.

Trailing 13-7 at halftime, the Raiders took a 14-13 lead on Jacobs’ 1-yard touchdown run with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

The Colts responded two plays later. Taylor broke free for a 66-yard touchdown run, giving Indianapolis a 19-14 lead after a failed two-point conversion with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

The Raiders regained the lead when Carr hit Adams on a 48-yard touchdown for a 20-19 advantage after their own failed two-point conversion with 11:36 left in the game.

Ryan gave the Colts the lead for good when he found Campbell across the middle for a 35-yard touchdown with 5:07 left. They failed to convert on another two-point try.

The Raiders’ final drive ended when Stephon Gilmore broke up Carr’s fourth-down pass intended for Adams in the end zone with 47 seconds left.

The Colts took a 7-0 lead on Ryan’s 1-yard sneak with 3:17 left in the first quarter.

Chase McLaughlin’s 48-yard field goal extended the Colts’ lead to 10-0 with 12:38 left in the second quarter.

The Raiders pulled to within 10-7 when Foster Moreau made a diving catch in the end zone to snare Carr’s 4-yard pass with 58 seconds left in the half.

McLaughlin’s 48-yard field goal as time expired in the first half pushed Indianapolis’ advantage to 13-7.

–Field Level Media

Parks Frazier, the Colts assistant coach, throws footballs to players before the start of their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, CA., Sunday, Oct 28, 2018.

The Indianapolis Colts Play The Oakland Raiders

Colts confirm Parks Frazier, 30, as offensive play-caller

Frank Reich’s former personal assistant has gone from typing the game script to calling the plays under Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday.

A headline during a whirlwind week in Indianapolis, the Colts bypassed former Saturday teammate and current assistant coach Reggie Wayne to promote Parks Frazier to the prominent role on Monday. The move came hours after Reich was fired by owner Jim Irsay.

Frazier was the team’s passing game specialist and assistant quarterbacks coach under Reich, who hired him from the college ranks to be a personal assistant in 2018.

Saturday said Frazier’s role will not be a short-term tryout. The plan as of Wednesday is for Frazier to call offensive plays the rest of the 2022 season.

“We’re all going to be involved in helping Parks call the right plays,” Saturday said.

Saturday, last week an ESPN NFL analyst and Colts advisor, takes over the 3-5-1 Colts with only days to prepare for the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6).

Irsay came to Saturday with the idea of moving on from Reich but retained general manager Chris Ballard. Ballard hired Reich to be head coach after then-Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who’ll be on the other sideline Sunday with the Raiders, did a U-turn after already accepting the position in 2018.

Saturday said he took the job because he couldn’t take losing. He met with players for the first time Wednesday.

“Because I care. This (losing) sucks. I care about the players,” Saturday said Wednesday. “The staff, they sacrifice. These are my people. These people matter to me.”

Frazier was a college quarterback at Northeast Mississippi Junior College and Murray State.

–Field Level Media

Jan 27, 2020; Miami, Florida; USA; General overall view of the NFL Shield logo and helmets at the NFL Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL looking into Saturday games

If college football Saturdays shift to the fall, the NFL is planning to fill the football void by dominating autumn weekends, according to reports.

College football could be set for a schedule that begins in the spring due to concerns over the coronavirus. If conferences continue to push plans for the 2020 season into next spring, the NFL is planning to add a significant number of Saturday games, per reports.

The NFL typically introduces Saturday games for the final weeks of the regular season as the college football schedule narrows to bowl games.

The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 prohibited the NFL from scheduling games on Saturdays during college football season, and disallowed planning Friday night games during high school football season.

The Big Ten officially moved its college football season to spring 2021 on Tuesday.

According to published reports, the Pac-12 is planning to follow suit.

–Field Level Media