Former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator and head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles Nick Sirianni implied after the Week 11 contest between the two teams that he wasn’t pleased with the Colts firing Frank Reich during the middle of this season.
Video surfaced on November 22 showing Sirianni yelling towards the crowd immediately after the game, “That s*** was for Frank Reich.”
Clearly, Sirianni took the Reich firing personally. But Colts owner Jim Irsay tried to reassure fans and Sirianni in his latest interview with the media that there was nothing personal about firing Reich and subsequently hiring Jeff Saturday.
“It’s not personal,” Irsay told ESPN’s Stephen Holder. “It’s the very opposite from being personal.”
Irsay Described His Relationship With Reich Family
The Colts fired Reich after the struggles of the offense against the New England Patriots in Week 9. It was an ugly way for Reich to end his tenure, as Indianapolis averaged just over 2 yards per play, gave up 9 sacks and went 0-for-14 on third down versus New England.
But just as Reich explained why the Colts moved on from offensive coordinator Marcus Brady the week prior to his own firing, Irsay considered it best for the team. The team’s owner said that was true regardless of how he felt about Reich.
“Frank is a treasured friend of my family and all my daughters,” Irsay said. “We go back a long, long way. I’m very, very close to Frank, and I’ve known Frank for many decades. He’s like family.”
Irsay pointed to the fact that he gave Reich an early contract extension as a reason that further supports his claim that his firing wasn’t personal.
“I’ve been doing this for over 50 years, and I’ve never, ever, ever, ever given a coach an extension when there’s two years left on the contract,” Irsay told Holder. “But [I did it] because of the closeness with him and our family, and because I hoped that maybe it would be something that would help strengthen him in his position and his own belief.”
Irsay compared the situation to when the team didn’t re-sign running back Edgerrin James after the 2005 season. The Colts didn’t offer James a new contract because of salary cap restrictions, yet Irsay said he remained close to the running back. James asked Irsay to present him at his Hall of Fame induction.
Irsay Pushed Back on Criticism of Saturday Hire
While speaking with Holder, Irsay also took the opportunity to address some other criticism he’s received in regards to the Colts’ midseason coaching change.
Irsay hired Saturday despite the former center having no NFL or college coaching experience. For that reason, some have argued that the hiring of Saturday was personal too — a favor to a friend and Colts legend.
But Irsay pushed back on that claim by saying that there were a lot of former players and other Colts legends that he wouldn’t have offered the job to.
“I mean, I wasn’t gonna pick up the phone and hire Dallas Clark or Dwight Freeney,” Irsay said. “No, they wouldn’t be ready.”
Saturday has gone 1-1 to start his career as an NFL head coach. The Colts will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football in Week 12.