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It’s Time To Say “I Told You So” About Jeff Saturday

Jeff Saturday
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

But what if Jeff Saturday isn't the dumbest coaching hire ever?

It was the question that probably needed asking at the time 22 days ago when Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to be THAT guy and hire a pal to do a job for which he was supremely under-qualified. The unanimity of opinion was almost too much to bear, because when that many people take one side of an argument, the other side is indisputably true. We are blowhards, hear us roar.

Now the question can never be asked because he undercut all the pro-Saturday arguments  Monday night, and too many people (including this people) can now start with the obnoxious I told you sos, as though we actually know more about this than he does.

Saturday committed the cardinal sin of saving time outs for the next game when he clearly needed them in the moment, and then tripled down with the papal sin of saying he didn't need the time out he clearly did need—not just once, not twice, but thrice. It was not the being wrong, it's defending the error in a way that rekindles the argument about why he should be back in the safety of the studio.

The Colts trailed Pittsburgh 24-17 in a crockpot of molten slag disguised as a football game, and we need to tell you that because you had no business watching it. You should have known that well ahead of time because Las Vegas, usually better at this, decided that the Colts were 2.5 points better than the Steelers, an absurd proposition that elevated Saturday from sub-neophyte to, Well, he can't screw up that much. If the books cared enough to do their research, and if they cared about you as anything other than a wallet made of cholesterol and drooping eyelids, they would have taken the game off the board and declared, Go to a meeting, for Christ's sake. We tell you this all the time, but this time we really mean it.

Anyway, 24-17. There are three minutes, 52 seconds left when the Colts take the ball at their own seven-yard-line from a Steelers punt. They have three time outs to lengthen their chances and broaden their playbook, and after marching to the Steelers' 26 and threatening the international war crime of overtime, quarterback Mat Ryan scrambles 12 yards to the Pittsburgh 14, an act that eats seemingly hours off the clock in and of itself. Time for one of those time outs, Jeffy.

Only no. No? Yeah, no. The Colts let 25 seconds pass into the ether trying set up a yardless plunge by Jonathan Taylor, and then called their first time out after that play, with 30 seconds left in the game rather than 59. That sets up a fourth-and-3 that dies the death it richly deserves, and the game ends.

Now come the questions about the time out he didn't use soon enough and the two he didn't use at all, and Saturday sifted through all the possible answers to come with his coaching epitaph.

"I thought we had plenty of time, I wasn't really concerned," Saturday said. "We still had timeouts. I wasn't too concerned. When [Ryan] was going down, I couldn't tell where they were gonna start him from going down, right? If he was gonna get the first down. And then we got there, I expected us to get on the ball and have another play, a little bit quicker than that. But again, this wasn't a press for time. We just didn't make enough plays."

As in, We could have had two more plays to try to make if I had a better grasp of the time-space continuum.

He was asked the question again by a reporter handing him a helpful ladder to help guide him out of the coal mine he'd just fashioned as his man-cave, and he re-upped.

"We already had it, I mean we had it as the play was happening, that was the mode of the whole second half, so we already had it in our head, we were going to the next play, so as soon as (Ryan) got tackled we knew where we were going," Saturday said. "Would I have liked him to snap it a little earlier? Sure, but we never felt pressed for time."

And then, when asked by a reporter who saw him turn down the ladder and offered him a jackhammer to further seek out the comforts of the earth's crust, he denied the painfully obvious one final time.

"I just didn't think time was of the essence at that moment. I thought we had a good play, I felt like we would get to it. Obviously, we didn't do great on the back half, but I felt good about the call before, I felt like we'd have time, we would have timeouts afterwards, we were in striking distance, so I never felt like the pressure of needing the timeout."

And the door was kicked wide open, and the army of quarterwits who think they know the intricacies of time management reared up on their hind legs and yowled, Well, I might be an annoying idiot, but I know more than THAT guy! Since THAT guy is one of 32 coaches currently employed in the National Football League, that is a staggering claim to make, let alone being able to prove. Either that, or it is an ingenious marketing concept keyed around the notion that, yes, you, even you, you troglodytic heap of glassy-eyed stupefaction, can coach in the National Football League.

That is the real tragedy of Monday night. Not that the Colts lost, which is of as much importance as the Steelers winning, or that the Colts might have actually figured out a way to cover the 2.5, which they never actually did at any point, but that the miserable slob sitting in your easy chair in your house drinking your liquor and monstering your peace and quiet could now lecture you on Jeff Saturday's lack of coaching gravitas—a position you had taken yourself three weeks earlier.

Saturday, with whom we have no real issue (I mean, what's he supposed to, tell Irsay to shove his job offer because sitting next to other Jeff Saturdays in a TV studio is simply too rewarding an experience to piss away trying to run a football team?), would have done himself far greater good by saying, Jumping Jesus, I had THREE timeouts? THREE? Really? Gimme that play-by-play sheet, Rupert ... oh, God, it WAS three. I honestly had no idea. None of the coaches I barely know told me, and I didn't pay enough attention myself because I got locked into the breathtaking majesty of Matt Ryan running into the open field like a magnificent wildebeest. I feel so incredibly small right now.

Or he could have just Belichick'd his way out of it by saying, "We're on to Dallas" three times.

Instead, he ennobled fans and pundits into thinking they are actually entitled to even a shard of your attention, a crime against humanity in and of itself. The mistake was one thing, the answers quite another, and because of that geologic confluence of WTF, Jeff Saturday should be given a three-year-extension by Irsay as a financial penalty to the guitar-hoarding showoff for empowering these super-puff exoplanets of humanity in the first place. The sport is dead, and we don't even know it, but when we do realize it, this will be a moment worth noting—which is more than can be said for the rest of the Colts' season.

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