American Football

Colts’ Shaq Leonard: ‘Jeff Saturday is a great coach . . . Give him a full offseason with his coaching staff’


NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday still has a supporter in All-Pro NFL linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who recently offered his support for a potential full-time hiring.

According to All-Pro NFL linebacker Shaquille Leonard on ‘The Pat McAfee Show,’ Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday is a ‘great coach’ and can be successful with his own chosen coaching staff surrounding him and a full offseason of acclimation:

“Jeff (Saturday) is a great coach, man,” replied Leonard on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ when host Pat McAfee facetiously indicated he heard he was a bad coach. “Cut that out, man. I can’t stand that. It makes me so mad. . . . Listen, Jeff came in with the right mindset that he wasn’t going to sit back and allow just bad play. And it was more so that he demanded that from everybody, the offensive line. I mean of course everyone’s criticizing the offensive line, you see they got better didn’t they?”

“He came in and made sure that everybody knew exactly what was at stake, and what he wanted out of each and every player. And when we go out and play the game, you know when we blow a lead or something, that next meeting is like what we needed. ‘Nah, I’m going to call you out, I’m going to put you on the big screen, and let you know that this is unacceptable.’”

And I hate that he gets a lot of hate because coming in Week 8 or Week 9, and not knowing a coach on your coaching staff, so how do you expect him to come in and go 8-0, 9-0, whatever. Give him a full offseason. Give him his coaching staff. Whatever the case may be, and I think that it would be a great spot. . . I like him man. I like him.”

Now, it’s fair to also point out that Leonard has a soft spot for Saturday already, who pushed him to get another back surgery to fix the lingering nerve issue and effectively shut him down for the season to get fully healthy and right—as ‘The Maniac’ clearly wasn’t himself out there during limited action this past season, recovering from offseason back surgery.

It also appears that Saturday was a ‘players coach,’ while still ultimately holding his guys accountable, unafraid to call them out when they made mistakes, blew assignments, or their play simply wasn’t up to par. All of that is commendable for a head coach if done properly behind closed doors and kept internally in the locker room.

While a lot of Colts fans rightfully have reservations about Saturday becoming the full-time head coaching hire, as he looked largely inexperienced and overmatched (and the team went just 1-7), it appears that there were still some positives that came from his interim stint.

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