Jim Irsay justifies Jeff Saturday hire by saying NFL coaches are “afraid”

Well, Jim Irsay, good luck convincing any experienced NFL coaches with viable options to apply for your permanent head-coaching job after the season.

In clumsily attempting to justify the unjustifiable decision to ignore any candidate with, you know, actual experience coaching in the NFL or college football, Irsay turned it around, claiming that he actually wanted someone without experience.

“I’m glad he doesn’t have any NFL experience,” Irsay told reporters regarding new interim coach Jeff Saturday. “I’m glad he hasn’t learned the fear that’s in this league. Because it’s tough for all our coaches. They’re afraid. They go to analytics. And it gets difficult. I mean, he doesn’t have all that. He doesn’t have that fear.”

Beyond the fact that Irsay recklessly cast aspersions on every current NFL head coach and assistant coach by calling them chicken, his statement makes no sense. Analytics has become a tool that pushes coaches away from their fears. Analytics has made previously unconventional decisions far more conventional, making those decisions easier to defend when the time comes for media and fans to criticize a failed outcome. Coaches who rely on analytics aren’t operating out of fear, they’re operating out of bravado.

Besides, what did Irsay think he was getting when he hired Frank Reich away from the Eagles, a team that has made analytics a way of life? Currently, the Philly approach is proving to be pretty damn special.

Making Irsay’s take make even less sense is that fact that, typically, it’s the coach who has to be coaxed to ditch gut instinct and other qualitative, old-school factors to go all in on the numbers and the formulas and the predictive math that says, for example, going for it on fourth and two from your own 35 leads to a 39-percent chance of winning, and that punting leads to a 35-percent chance of victory. (I made up those numbers, but it probably wouldn’t be very difficult to design a mathematical model that would sit out those results, since the person who designs the model controls the variables.)

And, yes, Irsay will have to find a way to walk those comments back when the time comes to hire a coach for 2023 and beyond. Maybe the hidden genius of his strategy is that he’s trying to preemptively sabotage the pool of interested coaches, making it easier to stick with Saturday for all Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays next year.

But that would be giving Irsay way too much credit. Based on Monday, he deserves very little. If any.

Jim Irsay justifies Jeff Saturday hire by saying NFL coaches are “afraid” originally appeared on Pro Football Talk