As the football-following world continues to struggle to understand the craziness that played out on Monday in Indianapolis, some have suggested that Colts owner Jim Irsay may be crazy like a fox. That the decision to make Jeff Saturday the interim head coach is part of an effort to tank the season and, in turn, to solve the chronic quarterback problem by drafting one of the best ones in a strong 2023 class.
“That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard, that we’re tanking,” Irsay told Bob Kravitz of TheAthletic.com on Tuesday night. “That’s bullshit. We’re in this thing; 9-7-1 get us in, no question about it. . . . We’re not tanking the season. Whoever says these things, that we’re not playing [quarterback] Matt [Ryan] because [of an effort to tank], that’s all bullshit. That’s not true. . . We’re going to do what it takes to win. I don’t know who people think we are, they don’t know us. We don’t tank in Indianapolis.”
Again, the first rule of Tank Club is you do not talk about Tank Club. So even if Irsay and the Colts were indeed tanking, Irsay would never admit it.
That said, his effort to explain his strategy carries some flaws. To get to 9-7-1, which does not guarantee a playoff berth in any year but could result in one this year, the Colts will have to go 6-2 down the stretch. The Colts are not going 6-2 down the stretch. In fact, if the Colts go 6-2 down the stretch, I’ll donate $10,000 to the charity of Jim Irsay’s choice.
Also, few if any are saying that Ryan has been benched as part of a tanking strategy. Ryan’s benching was and continues to be a business decision. (More on that in a later post.)
So, no, I don’t believe Irsay is trying to tank. I think Irsay is earnestly, and desperately, trying to turn the thing around. And I think he’s doing so in a way that constitutes an affront to all qualified coaching candidates, that undermines the spirit of the Rooney Rule, and that compels the league to immediate close the loophole by requiring compliance for interim hires if the interim coach will be someone who isn’t currently on the staff.
Other than that, it’s perfectly fine.