UPDATE: Frank Reich fired by Colts; Jeff Saturday named interim coach

The Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 7 fired head coach Frank Reich after a 3-5-1 start. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

Frank Reich has been fired from his post as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the organization said Monday.

The ouster, during Reich’s fifth season with the team, follows a overwhelming 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, dropping the Colts to 3-5-1 this season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news late Monday morning, and it was soon confirmed by the Colts.

Jeff Saturday

The Colts on Monday also named five-time Pro Bowler Jeff Saturday as interim head coach. Saturday, an ESPN football analyst since 2013, played 12 seasons as an offensive lineman with the Colt, 1999-2011, along with a one-year stint with the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Saturday has been a consultant for the Colts over the past few years.

In losing their third straight game Sunday, the Colts went 0 for 14 on third down, allowed nine sacks and totaled just 121 yards of offense at New England. The Colts have the NFL’s lowest scoring offense.

During his tenure, Reich had a 40–33–1 record and worked with seven starting quarterbacks: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and, most recently, Sam Ehlinger.

Reich, a longtime NFL quarterback, was hired in 2018 after stints as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reich, 60, was hired in 2018 after serving as offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles. He led the Colts to the playoffs in two of his first four seasons and had them on the cusp of making it last season. But Indy lost its last two games to miss the postseason.

This is the third major move in three weeks for Indy. Two weeks ago, Reich announced the benching of longtime NFL veteran Matt Ryan, the league’s 2016 MVP. Last week, he fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady even though Reich was the one calling plays.

General manager Chris Ballard also traded running back Nyheim Hines last Tuesday, just before the trading deadline.

Reich on Sunday took the blame for the drubbing at the hands of the Patriots and the team’s inability to find the end zone.

“Starting with me, right? That’s what I said in the locker room. The offensive performance, that’s why I was brought here. That’s my responsibility,” Reich said. “We’ve got the players that are plenty good enough. I have to do a better job. It starts with me on offense. I need to do a better job getting the guys ready to play, putting guys in a good position to win and having answers when we face problems.”

When he was hired in 2018 by Indianapolis, it was Reich’s first head coaching job. He was a coaching intern as far back as 2006 for the Colts before making his way up the ladder, with stints as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles prior to returning to Indianapolis.

The Colts are expected to hold a news conference Monday evening to discuss the team’s plans for an interim head coach.

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38 thoughts on “UPDATE: Frank Reich fired by Colts; Jeff Saturday named interim coach

    1. Agreed. But we also need an offensive line that will keep the QB from being pulverized by the other team’s defense.

    2. ^^^This. On a pay-for-performance basis, our OL is the worst in the league…both the highest paid and worst performing.

  1. I’m sure Frank is a great person, he just never seemed to have IT as a head coach. The Colts seemingly were always playing from behind and always under prepared to start a game. His in game adjustments (or lack of) were glaring. I wish him luck in life but no surprising that Jim Irsay is done with him. Make no mistake about it, it’s the owner who has the stones to make the call.

    1. The problem is the owner. The Colts have only been good in Indianapolis when Irsay ceded control to Bill Polian. Not to say that Irsay was wrong to get rid of Bill and his son Chris (who apparently was a real piece of work), but all the time before and after the Bill Polian era has been largely mediocre outside of that accidental playoff run in the mid 90’s.

      Irsay knows more about football than I do, for sure, and maybe it will get better when the daughters take control. But I doubt the team will be any good while Jim wants to run the team.

    2. All Mr. Irsay can do is hire the right people at the top and then be willing to open the checkbook, both of which he has done. He’s not waiting for things to get worse either so how is this the owner’s fault?

    3. “All he has to do is hire the right person”

      Yeah, and to win the Indy 500 you just have to get in the car and drive fast.

      Here’s the list of GM’s since Irsay fired himself as GM (he wasn’t good at that either)

      Bill Tobin
      Bill Polian
      Chris Polian
      Ryan Grigson
      Chris Ballard

      It appears that Irsay isn’t capable of hiring the right person on a consistent basis.

    4. Joe B – and others that want to blame Irsay for meddling. Let’s just say that you have no idea whether or how much he is involved with making day-to-day, or even big decisions, short of deciding it’s time to fire the GM.

      You’re right that he was *perceived* as letting Polian take the reins, and BP demanded such freedom. Jim was well aware that his dad’s meddling was a bad thing, and it’s his opinion that constantly changing GMs, HCs, and QBs as soon as there’s a bad year is a terrible way to run a franchise. Plenty of examples of teams that had patience rewarded.

      So, aside from recent *media reports* that he was the one to demand Ryan sit, how do you come to the conclusion that he is “running the team” now. Many people would agree he should dump Ballard, but give it a few weeks, or even into the offseason when other GMs might be willing to switch, before criticizing him for not dumping Ballard sooner. I am pretty sure that step is coming next. And there’s really no rush since a GM can’t retool the roster much at this point.

    5. Joe B – regarding who Jim hired and fired as GM:

      Bill Tobin – you’re reaching back 28 years on this one, and although he was only okay, here’s what Wiki has to say: “During his time with the Indianapolis Colts, he drafted future Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Marvin Harrison. He also drafted Ken Dilger, Tarik Glenn, and Adam Meadows, who would be cornerstones of the Colts offensive line. He also built a team in Indianapolis with Jim Harbaugh, who in 1995 led the NFL in passing and had a very successful run in the 1995 NFL playoffs, including the first playoff win for the Colts since Super Bowl V, a span of thirty years. He drafted Ray Buchanan and Ashley Ambrose, who later started for the Falcons in the Super Bowl. That’s not too bad. He was here just three years before Jim hired Bill Polian.

      Bill Polian – tyrant for sure, but got the job done for several years until he didn’t.

      Chris Polian – was GM only because his dad made himself President but Bill was still calling the shots. His dad forced him on Jim, who was willing to oblige as long as Bill was getting it done. Then when he wasn’t, Chris got shoved out the door as was so well deserved. He was a Class A jerk.

      Grigson and Ballard – swing and a miss. Show me other franchises that haven’t had the same thing happen. Jim can only try his best at picking them, and then the weight is on him as far as how long before you give up and move on. I tend to agree he’s waited too long on Ballard.

    6. Irsay is terrible. Worst owner in the league. The NFL was so embarrassed by this guy that they made him hire Bill Polian and that is the only success Irsay has ever had. He doesn’t care though because no matter the scores on the field, poor and middle class Indiana taxpayers are forced to fund HIS stadium.

    7. Well, after more research, I’m not convinced that Jim hired Bill Tobin. Tobin came on before Robert Irsay’s stroke… so quite possible Bob fired his own son to hire Tobin.

      I wouldn’t call it meddling. It’s his team. He can do with it what he wants… just like I can choose not to go to their games or structure my weekends around watching them. I just don’t think he’s a great football mind, and his best option is to hire someone who is and get out of the way.

      I’d say the same of Jerry Jones. Brilliant at the business side, always gets his teams talked about, but sure feels to me like his teams have done worse the more he’s taken control.

    8. Wade, Irsay doesn’t even make the 20 worst owners in the league when it comes to consistently putting a good team on the field over the past decade.

    9. Poor bitter, Wade. Consider this list: Michael Bidwell (Cardinals), Arthur Blank (Falcons), David Tepper (Panthers), V. Halas McCaskey (Bears), Haslam’s (Browns), Rob Walton (Broncos), Sheila Ford Hamp (Lions), McNair Family (Texans), Shahid Khan (Jaguars), Davis family (Raiders), Stephen Ross (Dolphins), Johnson’s (Jets), Allen Estate (Seahawks), Dan Snyder (Commanders). Worst owner in league is just plain dumb. Name cities that haven’t funded in some part stadiums. Say goodbye to Big Ten Football championships, College Football Championship, NCAA Basketball Finals without the Lucas Oil Stadium. Irsay doesn’t get money from these events or other smaller events held at the stadium. Maybe, in your view, we should just kick the team out of the City and also lose out on high the significant taxes paid by the high paid athletes and staff.

  2. Frank is a nice guy, but we all know this is a “results are what counts” league. We now need to fire Ballard ASAP and let the new GM select their own permanent HC. IDC who we name as interim HC, provided they understand is time to tank for a high draft pick – sorry to say.

  3. As a fan, I wanted to see some real changes being made after that embarrassing loss to New England. Our season is pretty much done and we should take steps to build for next year. I love the Colts, but I am ashamed of our lack of offensive performance. It seems we regressed further each week. We need a great coach, better QB, better receivers and better offensive line play. I do like what I’m seeing out of the defense, but I think they would have better stats if the offense had more success. Irsay, please go after a real coach and QB!

  4. Colts haven’t had a decent season or team since Tony Dungy left. Peyton leaving just added to the downward spiral. Maybe some accountability and consequences for not losing so many games with such a large amount of points they are losing by. Why are we paying them so much money if they can’t even win occasionally?

    1. They’re under contract, for now. You can’t just cut someone’s pay if they underperform.

  5. Team would be better with healthy Jonathan Taylor and Shaq Leonard. Haven’t had either for most of the year. Turnovers creating short fields have been completely missing.
    Personnel (outside of the offensive line) is not the issue. Ballard is one of the best. Continuity, not panic, is what’s needed here. We’re paying three ProBowl contracts on the offensive line. Going on the cheap with the other two positions just didn’t work at all. Get that fixed and we’ll be right back in the mix–with help from a higher pick next year!

  6. Jim Irsay put this team together with Ballard and Reich. OOPS! One of the best defenses the Colts have had — ever.
    On the other hand, the offense is very weak! The offensive line coach coach is horrible and needs to be replaced immediately. Too bad Howard Mudd passed. No burner receiver! No blocking tight ends! Failed offensive schemes. Play calling sucked yesterday! Not much to salvage and there are no miracle workers in football. Jim, prepare for 2023!

  7. Love that they’ve brought in Jeff Saturday as interim coach. He certainly knows what a good offense is. Now, let’s get Peyton as our GM, and off we go! A girl can dream, right?

    1. Hes a nice guy and smart but he’s never coached in the NFL or college, he’s a high school coach. It’s as insane as hiring Eric Moore from Center Grove or Kyle Ralph from New Pal to coach the Colts… that’s what they’ve done.

      How did Gerry Faust work out for Notre Dame?

    2. So Jeff Saturday at the helm loses all the games that remain this season. That only moves the Colts up in line to draft an all-star college QB who could be the next Peyton Manning. And it gives Irsay time to find a top-quality head coach for next season. Sounds like a longterm win-win move.

  8. You win with players….Coach could likely do the job if we had some. Not saying he is perfect, but his hands are missing a couple of fingers to get the job done. Now, if he wanted all these qb’s and line positions and did not make things happen, that is indeed on him. If others made those choices, he’s just the fall guy. Wish him all the best.

  9. A walk of field goal is missed in the first game = tie. Two fumbles (Ehrlinger, Taylor) in field goal range = missed points and loss to Washington. Are people still screeching if three plays are made and the Colts are 5-4. Did the Coach or GM make those three mistakes? It’s appropriate to make a coaching change but the keyboard warriors need to take a break. Should the Rams, Packers and Steelers fire their coaches and GM’s?

  10. I liked Frank as a person, as a coach, he might of been to passive and lackluster. I really can’t blame Irsay, he knows Colts fans were spoiled by Manning and Luck and this Colts team is unacceptable. A owners job is to keep the fans happy but every NFL team has to rebuild at some point or another,

    1. …and the Colts under Ryan Grigson screwed Luck by failing to give him a decent O-line, a good RB, and at least one speedy receiver who could catch the ball.

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