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Jeff Saturday’s hire ripples across the NFL’s stunner

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After sixteen years at the mic, Peyton Manning blasted his star center with “Stop calling the (whistle) plays!”

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That included rehiring Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback and promoting QBs assistant coach Parks Frazier to offensive play after his shocking appointment as interim head coach of Indy following Jim Irsay’s firing of Frank Reich last week.

The Colts rallied past the Raiders 25-20 two weeks later on Saturday, then an ESPN analyst tweeted that “the Raiders look terrible.”

Of course, two weeks ago, no one, Saturday included, could have imagined he’d make his NFL practice debut this past weekend.

His only coaching experience was as the head coach of Hebron Christian Academy, a college prep school in Georgia, from 2017-2020.

Heading off the coaching line without any collegiate or professional coaching experience put Saturday in the crosshairs of criticism and dismay across the league.

Two of his harshest critics were ex Cleveland Browns Offensive lineman Joe Thomas and Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher.

Thomas called Saturday’s hiring a disgrace to the league and its coaches, questioned why Saturday accepted the job at all, and criticized Irsay for saying he was glad Saturday lacked the NFL’s head coaching experience because he wouldn’t bring the usual baggage to the position when that happened. . To make critical decisions in the game.

“When you hire your drinking buddy to be the head coach of an NFL football team, it’s one of the most irreverent things I’ve ever done in my entire life in terms of the commitment, the lifestyle and the experience it takes to be a pro player,” said NFL coach Thomas, a pro player. Bowler 10 times, on Friday “Good Morning Football.”

Being an NFL head coach isn’t “just something you can show up for,” said Thomas.

“So the disrespect the NFL coaches must have felt when they saw this appointment was made is higher than almost anything I can remember in the NFL,” Thomas continued. ’ and then to defend the decision by saying, ‘I’m glad he has no experience? “

That was just a few steps too far for Thomas.

Coeer didn’t back down either.

“It’s a disgrace to the coaching profession,” Cowher said on the CBS Studio show Sunday as he called out Saturday for turning down previous overtures from the Colts to serve as an assistant coach because he was in television.

Cowher complained that Irsay had passed members of Reich’s staff who had been there all season, some of whom had NFL coaching experience, and deserved the opportunity on Saturday.

Cowher also blasted Saturday’s suggestion in his introductory press conference that he’d build his resume over the next couple of months to see if this whole coaching thing was something he’d like to keep doing.

“For an owner to hire a coach who wasn’t an assistant at the college or pro level and supervise so many qualified candidates to build a resume,” Cowher argued, “is a disgrace to the coaching profession.” “As far as how that happened, what happened in Indianapolis is a travesty.”

Saturday came out next and delivered another shocker: winning his coaching debut, and when Irsay gave him a match ball afterwards, he turned Saturday into a bonding moment with his players, who probably should have donned their titles. Nicknames are sewn on the backs.

“Everybody get a game ball,” he shouted on Saturday. “And my favorite thing about football: Victory Monday. We’ll see you every Wednesday.”

Back in Indianapolis, Saturday was basking in the congratulations he was receiving after receiving so much barbs for taking the job.

“I felt convinced about the opportunity,” he said Saturday. “ I knew I would accept it for these reasons and I have no qualms about what anyone has to say about their opinion. amazing. If they disagree with her, they still love them. Don’t worry about it. I have other things to take care of. ”

Back in Las Vegas, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, who dropped out of a Colts gig a few years ago that led to the hiring of Reich, fell to 2-7 with the loss, his sixth by one point.

On Monday, Raiders owner Mark Davis said he stands by his beleaguered first-year coach who has now gone 7-24 in his last 31 games, including 5-17 in Denver in 2009-10.

“I think there’s a process that we’re going through, and it’s definitely slower and more painful than anyone would like,” McDaniels said.

Bronco Coach Nathaniel Hackett knows that feeling.

He lost 3-6 with five points and one the other came in Las Vegas in September, the 32-23 defeat was a two-point game before the two-minute warning.

The Raiders go into the season on Sunday in Denver, where Hackett is paired up Russell Wilson It was more of a fiasco than McDaniels’ union with Derek Carr.

Hackett, who also received a vote of confidence midway through his senior season, smiled when asked if he felt he would run his job on Sunday.

Hackett replied, “I learned a long time ago that you train for your job every single day.” “I mean, every single day you come into this building and you compete and fight to be the best version of yourself and try to get the best out of everyone around you. That’s exactly what happens.”

Whether you’re a first-time head coach, someone grateful for a second chance or just someone who just got a third.

With contributions from AP sportswriter Michael Marott in Indianapolis.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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