Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Analyst Matt Harmon discuss the Colts’ firing of head coach Frank Reich, and hiring of Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. Austin gives his perspective as a player on how an in-season coaching change can disrupt a locker room. A.E. shares his thoughts on Jim Irsay’s decision to passover the numerous head coach candidates throughout the league for someone who’s never been a coach of any kind in the NFL. Catch fresh episodes of Ekeler’s Edge every Wednesday on Yahoo Sports and your favorite social media platforms. Listen to Ekeler’s Edge on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast wherever you get podcasts.
- The Colts fire Frank Reich. They hired Jeff Saturday, former longtime Colts center. Jim Irsay said like we were fortunate he was available. Well, I mean, of course Jeff was available. He was working at ESPN.
AUSTIN EKELER: There's some interesting things going on, to say the least.
MATT HARMON: I think the one thing that's kind of gotten lost in the discussion with the Jeff Saturday thing is that I'm really curious how the guys in the locker room and how the team would feel about somebody who is an outsider-- now he's a Colts legend, right? He was just inducted into the Ring of Honor. Like he does have skins on the wall. He's won Super Bowls with this team before.
But he still wasn't even on the coaching staff. Like he was a consultant with the team. I'm curious from a player perspective, how would you feel if you were in this situation where a guy that isn't a part of the coaching staff, after the head coach is fired, like becomes the head coach like this?
AUSTIN EKELER: I mean, if I was in that scenario, I feel like I wouldn't know how to feel. I think it really sends the message to the rest of the coaching staff, too, of what the organization thinks of you. Clearly the organization doesn't think that you're able to run the team, any of you guys there.
MATT HARMON: Yeah.
AUSTIN EKELER: I think that's pretty clear on the wall. Straight up there's like, nah, you're not it. We're going to go get this guy, because we think he's much better for the short term, right? There will probably just be, I'm guessing, just for the rest of the season.
MATT HARMON: I don't know about that, man. After watching that press conference last night, it was pretty clear that Jim Irsay intends for this to be a permanent move. Otherwise like they're not doing this. They're not hiring this guy off TV. They got John Fox. They have Gus Bradley, like guys who have been head coaches in the NFL before. This is not a playing out the string thing.
This is like, I don't know what Jeff Saturday has to do to earn the job or lose the job, but it's pretty clear to me like in an ideal world, Jim Irsay's ideal world, he owns the damn team, so he can do what he wants. They want him to be the head coach of this team going forward. That was my takeaway.
AUSTIN EKELER: It looks like they're just like, hey, you know what? We're going to try a new trajectory. Let's go. Let's try it. You know, and everyone else is going to have to fall into place or leave. That's what it's going to look like. For the players, man, it's just like your organization is saying, let's go next.
Let's keep playing hard. But we just have so much disconnect here, because of coaching changes in the middle of the season, which is never great for an organization, just because that's what established the team in the very beginning. Now it's not there anymore. So it's like OK, now you have new leadership. And so it's just, it's a mess. For those guys over there, bro, keep playing hard, right? Because, look, there's going to be light at the end of the tunnel one way or another.
MATT HARMON: Austin, he does have experience as a high school head coach in Georgia. So there's that.
AUSTIN EKELER: No comment.
MATT HARMON: Irsay's couple other quotes on this was, yes, he's fully experienced enough. Yes, he is fully capable. He also just kept rolling and said, we don't build rockets to go to Mars. It's a very simple job we do here. I don't know that it's a very simple job. But that's just me.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah, I think that's going to be a rude awakening. It seems very risky and very bold.
MATT HARMON: Yeah.
AUSTIN EKELER: All right.
MATT HARMON: I mean, Jim Irsay's thoughts and like motivations and all this stuff aside, I will say for Jeff Saturday, it does seem like everybody loves the dude. Like he's a good guy. His former teammates love him. Obviously the Colts love him. The people of Indianapolis love him.
AUSTIN EKELER: You've heard what I've said about-- maybe you haven't-- about people that are good guys. Typically, the NFL doesn't care if you're a good guy or not.
MATT HARMON: Yeah.
AUSTIN EKELER: They don't care. What matters is winning games. And so what are you trying to do? Do we want to get the best guy that's leading our team, that is going to help us win games. Whether people like him or not doesn't matter. Is he going to win? Like A. Lynn, for example. He was a great guy, good head on his shoulders, really stuck to his business, really knew how to construct, you know, lead a team.
But it wasn't, we weren't winning games. So guess what?
MATT HARMON: Yeah.
AUSTIN EKELER: We made a change, you know? That guy is still the reason I'm in the NFL, right? He was a part of giving me an opportunity. I owe that guy a lot, as far as credit to my season and to my career. It doesn't matter. It does not matter. So this guy's getting an opportunity that a lot of coaches in the NFL, that have been coaching in the NFL for years, have been trying to build up to.
This guy hasn't coached one year in the NFL. Sure he's won two Super Bowls. But we'll see how that translates to actually leading an actual NFL team in a head coaching space, not necessarily in the locker room, which is a lot different too, because your role as a head coach is really you're taking the fault for everything, good, bad, everything is put on your shoulders. And you got to talk to the media. And you got to do all these reports.
You got to get everything ready. You got to set the tempo. You got to set the standard. All this stuff that is put on your shoulders, that if you don't have experience doing or being around, especially for a while, you're going to be challenged.