Indianapolis Colts head coach Jeff Saturday speaks after an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

AP Photo/David Becker

Jeff Saturday spent all week hearing about why he was unqualified to be the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach.

Then he subsequently went on the road and won his first NFL game. The Colts’ 25-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders left Saturday feeling even more confident to push back at his critics.

“I love coaches,” Saturday told Peter King of NBC Sports. “I get why people question this. But for the last week, I’m watching all the coaches on our staff, and these super-smart people with very defined roles are doing things so well, and I’m so impressed. It was like watching an orchestra.”

Saturday and Colts owner Jim Irsay faced a tsunami of criticism in the six days between the interim coach’s hiring and Sunday’s win over the Raiders. Much of the focus was on Saturday’s lack of experience, with Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher saying it was a “disgrace to the coaching profession.”

“I respect his opinion, you know? Here’s the thing. God is my defender, man. I don’t have to defend myself,” Saturday said. “I am absolutely comfortable in who I am. I respect all those guys. Whoever has whatever negative opinion, I can assure you, it’s not gonna change who I am or what I believe I’m called to do. I have no idea, and I still don’t, how successful I’ll be, but we’re gonna work hard at it and I believe I can lead men and lead the staff. I’m excited about the opportunity.”

Former NFL lineman Joe Thomas also called the hire “disrespectful” and categorized Saturday as Irsay’s “drinking buddy.” Saturday pushed back on the notion any alcoholic beverages were involved in Irsay’s decision to hire him.

“I can assure you, I have never gone drinking with Jim. I don’t even know that Jim drinks. I don’t drink very much either,” Saturday said. “I don’t know Joe. I’m not worried about what Joe thinks about me or anybody else. Like I told you, the Lord will defend. I feel like I’ve been called to do it, so I made the decision to do it. Again, no disrespect to either of those men. They are who they are and said what they said. It will not sway me.”

The Colts certainly looked like a more motivated team under Saturday, scoring nearly as many points (25) as they had during the entirety of their three-game losing streak (29). Some of that can be attributed to Matt Ryan returning to the starting quarterback job and a healthy Jonathan Taylor.

That said, it’s impossible to argue with Saturday’s results one game into his coaching career.

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