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Jeff Saturday ‘man to beat’ to become Indianapolis Colts head coach in 2023

The Indianapolis Colts coaching search is underway with owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard already interviewing many of the best NFL coaching candidates in 2023. Despite a competitive field, Jeff Saturday could be the favorite for the job.

When Indianapolis fired head coach Frank Reich on Nov. 7, many expected the organization to take a conventional path to replace him. Instead, against the advice of team executives, Irsay named Saturday as interim coach and said he had a legitimate shot to keep the job in 2023.

Related: Key decision could help Jeff Saturday become Indianapolis Colts coach

Saturday, age 47, last served as an NFL analyst for ESPN. Prior to that, he posted a 20-16 record across three seasons as a high school football coach at Hebron Christian Academy. However, he was a four-time All-Pro selection and is a member of the Colts’ Ring of Honor.

While Ballard is primarily overseeing the coaching search, Irsay holds the final say in the hire. It’s expected to have a significant influence on who becomes the full-time coach in 2023, with Irsay’s close relationship with Saturday seemingly already having an influence.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network wrote that in the mind of Irsay, Saturday could be the man to beat in the Colts coaching search. Indianapolis has already interviewed seven candidates, including Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.

The Colts won their first game with Saturday serving as interim coach, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 25-20. However, Indianapolis ended the season with seven consecutive losses and it had the worst point differential in the NFL during Saturday’s eight-game tenure.

Related: NFL executives don’t view Jeff Saturday as a viable coaching candidate

Addressing reporters after Week 18, Saturday re-affirmed his interest in becoming the full-time coach and said he has a specific plan in place to turn the team around.

“Listen, I have a very clear vision of how I can turn this football team around. I have a plan of attack that I understand and believe has to happen to turn a corner.”

Indianapolis Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday

Related: Indianapolis Colts coaching candidates

Indianapolis is the only team with an NFL head-coaching vacancy with interest in Saturday. He has not received any other interview requests and Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that ESPN has a significant interest in bringing Saturday back as one of its top analysts.