Indianapolis Colts head coach Jeff Saturday knows he messed up his clock management during a Monday night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12. Saturday reviewed the tape from the loss, and admitted he should have called a timeout before a chaotic third-down play.
Saturday's clock management came under fire during the Colts' final drive of the game. With the Colts trailing by seven, quarterback Matt Ryan looked to lead the team on a game-tying drive. With roughly 1:30 to go, Ryan took a sack on a first-down play. Saturday opted to let the clock run.
A few plays later, Ryan attempted to run for a first-down. He came up three yards short, setting up a pivotal third-down. The Colts scrambled to get in formation while announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck expressed disbelief Saturday didn't call a timeout. The team eventually snapped the ball with 34 seconds to go. Jonathan Taylor was stopped for no gain on the play.
Upon reviewing tape of the game, Saturday admitted he should have called timeout following the Ryan scramble.
The Colts did take a timeout after the Taylor run, but could not convert on fourth down. Indianapolis went on to lose the contest 24-17. The Colts still had two timeouts when the clock hit zero.
That was a strange choice.
After the contest, Saturday defended that decision, saying he thought there was plenty of time left on the clock during that final sequence.
"I thought we had plenty of time, I wasn't really concerned, we still had timeouts," Saturday said Monday. "I wasn't too concerned.
"I expected us to get on the ball and have another play a little quicker than that, but again, this wasn't a 'pressed for time,' we just didn't make enough plays."
He changed his tune after reviewing the sequence less than 24 hours later.
Jeff Saturday under fire for lack of experience
Saturday's hiring was called into question immediately due to his lack of experience. Saturday had little to no experience as a head coach or assistant when he was hired as the interim head coach by Colts owner Jim Irsay. That was a highly unusual decision, as teams usually elevate coordinators or team assistants into the role. Irsay doubled down on that decision during a press conference announcing Saturday's hiring.
Saturday's tenure got off to a strong start, as the Colts defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in Saturday's first game as head coach. Following Monday's loss, Saturday and the Colts have dropped two straight games. They've been competitive in both, losing by one point in Week 11 and seven points in Week 12.
Monday's clock-management issues highlight Saturday's inexperience as an NFL head coach. It's possible he turns out to be a successful hire despite his inexperience, but Monday makes it clear there are things to fix if Saturday wants to be the long-term option in Indianapolis.