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Colts WRs coach Reggie Wayne would have taken interim coaching job if offered

Indianapolis Star 11/17/2022 Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS — When Jim Irsay decided it was time to fire coach Frank Reich, he turned to a franchise legend to take the helm of the Colts, tabbing Jeff Saturday in a move that shocked the NFL world.

Another franchise legend was already on the Indianapolis coaching staff.

And although Irsay didn’t ask, Reggie Wayne would have taken the promotion from wide receivers coach to the interim job if the Colts owner had turned to him.

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“(Expletive) yeah,” Wayne said. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

Wayne’s answer shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the move to bring in Saturday.

The Colts wide receivers coach was asked if he harbored any issues with the decision the franchise made.

“No, I’ve got enough stuff to do,” Wayne said, cracking that he still needs to find time to buy a cold-weather jacket. “It’s his team. He does what he wants. I respect that.”

Wayne, like everybody else, has heard the criticism of Saturday’s hiring, the idea that the Colts jumped the line by hiring an interim coach with no prior experience at either the NFL or collegiate level.

None of that should fall on Saturday, in the eyes of his former teammate.

“That’s why, when Jeff took it, I was like, ‘He’s supposed to take it, he’s not going to turn it down,’” Wayne said. “Everybody knows, if you’re in Wal-Mart, or you’re somewhere shopping and there’s a long line and you know somebody up there, TSA in the airport, you’re like ‘Hey, I’m going to avoid this line.’ But like I said, he’ll know what to do and how to rally everybody.

Wayne, who knows Saturday better than anybody else on the staff, knew his former teammate’s leadership qualities would fit the role he’d been given

“The same old Jeff that I’ve always known. Him being a leader, talking in front of a team, that’d be elementary for Jeff,” Wayne said. “His first impression was great, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to swing for the fence.”

But even Wayne admits he was surprised by the news of Saturday’s hiring.

“Surprised, but I’d rather Jeff than somebody else I didn’t know,” Wayne said. “I was happy for him, but I knew that Jeff would do a good job leading. I knew that him coming in, he’d know what to do and know what to say.”

The news of Reich’s firing hit the Colts staff hard.

Including Wayne.

Reich spent three seasons trying to coax Wayne onto the coaching staff, finally landing the potential Hall of Famer this offseason. When Wayne thinks about that Monday, he remembers the staff in “a daze,” and that he was trying to figure out what to say to the coach he respected deeply.

“I (was) trying to get my bearings together,” Wayne said. “Frank is a good friend of mine. I was kind of down for him, and I texted him as well, I told him: ‘Man, I’m sorry, I wish I could have done better.’ I was kind of more focused on myself and trying to figure out what to say to Frank.”

Wayne didn’t know what he was getting into in his first season as an NFL assistant.

The legend has done a good job with the Colts wide receivers, developing rookie Alec Pierce into a deep threat quickly, helping Parris Campbell realize his potential and helping Ashton Dulin become a more reliable receiver, in addition to the relationship he’s built with Michael Pittman Jr.

But outside of his room, the Colts have been through a quarterback change, the firing of an offensive coordinator, the firing of the head coach and then another quarterback change.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Man, how’s your first year coaching?’ I could write a book. It seems like as soon as you get comfortable, something changes. It just goes to show you, you’ve got to be ready for whatever at all times. I do tell you, if I thought that this was going to happen, and Frank was to call me in the summer, (I’d be like), ‘Nah, I ain’t doing it.’”

Wayne has centered himself by focusing on the young receivers he’s teaching.

“It sucks that all this stuff happened and transpired, but I can’t just sit up there and sulk in it,” Wayne said. “I’ve got a room that’s counting on me to get them prepared and ready to go.”

Saturday’s now been in charge of the Colts for roughly 10 days.

Wayne’s old teammate made a heck of an opening impression. How Saturday will hold up long-term is a story that still has to be written.  

“I guess we’re still trying to figure it out, right?” Wayne said. “I’m trying to figure out if I’m a long-time receiving coach. I ain’t figured that out yet. You just keep trying, you keep taking it one day at a time, and you see how far this can go. … The Jeff I know likes to be at home. Maybe that’s changed, maybe it hasn’t.”

If Wayne’s learned anything in his first season as an NFL assistant coach, it’s that it’s impossible to see what might be coming down the road.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts WRs coach Reggie Wayne would have taken interim coaching job if offered

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