The Jeff Saturday Effect…..what will it be?
The strange season of the Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1 SU, 3-6 ATS) continues, with one of the more bizarre moves of recent years.
We already assume that owner Jim Irsay orchestrated the benching of quarterback Matt Ryan, and perhaps even the canning of offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. What we are absolutely sure of is that the next couple of moves were completely his idea.
There were plenty of BetAnySports patrons who speculated that Frank Reich could be next on the chopping block.
Indeed he was. After a dreadful offensive performance in a 26-3 loss to New England on Sunday – in which young QB experiment Sam Ehlinger was sacked NINE times – Irsay cut the chord with his head coach.
He was discussing a coaching change during that game with a guy who was working with ESPN. And then he asked the guy if he wanted to do it.
And so we have a new head coach in Jeff Saturday, who not only is not, nor has ever been, an assistant in college or pro football, but….. well, do we even need to say more than that?
Saturday, a center who played with Peyton Manning, made All-Pro four times with the Colts. He is an immensely popular figure with the fan base, which had to be part of the reason behind the decision.
There are many critics, as you can imagine. Some of them were wondering why a black interim coach was not hired, and well, that can be expected. And there were already two assistants who had head coaching experience (John Fox, Gus Bradley). So you’ve got to wonder what they’re thinking.
The bottom line is that Irsay trusts Saturday.
The first chapter comes not on Saturday, but on Sunday (we don’t want to get you confused) against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-6 SU, 3-5 ATS) at Allegiant Stadium, with the kickoff scheduled for 4:05 PM ET. At BetAnySports, here are the NFL odds on the game:
Las Vegas Raiders -4.5
Indianapolis Colts +4.5
Over 40 Points -110
Under 40 Points -110
So what does Saturday inherit? A team that is:
* Last in the NFL in points per game (14.7).
* Next to last in red zone TD percentage (44%).
It’s also a team that has scored ten first quarter points.
So we really have to go through all the numbers? What it comes down to is that they can’t put the ball in the end zone.
Saturday also inherits a team that has one of the top three or four running backs in the league, when healthy (Jonathan Taylor); an offensive line that has at least two standouts in center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson; and a defense that does not deserve to be complemented by this kind of offense (fifth best in the league in total yards).
Oh, and he finds himself still with a chance to win the AFC South title…… kind of. The Colts are two games behind the Tennessee Titans. The thing is, they have lost twice to Tennessee already.
So maybe they’ll just take it one game at a time. For the first game, they’ll have a guy calling the plays for the first time. Parks Frazier, who was the assistant quarterback coach just last year, will do the honors. Most people in the building consider him a sharp cookie, and I guess one positive is that he has been working with Ehlinger from the beginning.
The interesting thing is that at this moment, Saturday may have more job security than his opposite number. The Raiders have not come close to meeting expectations, and Mark Davis is now the second owner in the AFC West to discover that Bill Belichick’s magic dust is not sprinkled all over Josh McDaniel’s. And if you want to add some irony to it, before the Colts hired Reich, they hired McDaniels as head coach. He then backed out of the deal.
Las Vegas, unlike Indy, has an offensive line that appears to be functional. The Raiders are ranked #1 in the NFL in “Adjusted Line Yards,” a metric compiled by the folks at analytics site Football Outsiders. The Colts, by contrast, are 31st in that department, which means that Josh Jacobs might be a more effective back than Taylor in this game. Vegas has placed receivers Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow on injured reserve, which, despite the presence of Davante Adams, may push them more toward the ground game.
It would be tough to envision Indianapolis being a well-oiled machine on the offensive side of the ball. Ehlinger is starting again, although Matt Ryan is practicing and ex-Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still riding the pines. And as we mentioned, their defense has done a solid job. The Colts have played 13 of their last 14 games under the total, and that seems to be a pretty good way to go as we sit here.
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