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Colts’ Shaquille Leonard backs Jeff Saturday, doesn’t appreciate ‘hate’: ‘Cut that out’


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As the Indianapolis Colts search for their next head, one member of the team is throwing his support behind the guy who surprisingly was named the interim head coach in Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season. 

Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard spoke highly of Jeff Saturday on Friday, telling Pat McAfee that the interim head coach would be in a "great spot" if given an entire offseason to prepare. 

"Jeff is a great coach, man. Cut that out," Leonard said when McAfee said he had heard Saturday was a bad coach. "I can’t stand that. It makes me so mad." 

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"Jeff came in with the right mindset that he wasn't going to sit back and allow just bad play. It was more so he demanded excellence from everybody. That offensive line, of course, everybody would criticize that offensive line. You see they got better, didn't they? He came in and made sure that everybody knew exactly what was at stake and what he wanted out of each and every player."

Saturday was named the interim head coach after Frank Reich was fired following a Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots. 

The hire was met with a wave of criticism as Saturday had no coaching experience in the college or professional ranks. 

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Saturday, who played 13 seasons with the Colts, went 1-7 as interim head coach and ended the 2022 season on a seven-game losing streak. 

Leonard told McAfee that Saturday held the players accountable, saying it was unfair to judge him solely on the eight games he coached during the 2022 season. 

"I hate that he gets a lot of hate," Leonard continued. "Coming in Week 8, Week 9 and not knowing a coach on your coaching staff … how do you expect him to come in and go 8-0, 9-0, whatever. Give him a full offseason, give him his coaching staff or whatever the case may be, and I think that he’ll be in a great spot."

While Saturday clearly has the support of one of his top players, it would still be a surprise if he were named the full-time head coach. 

Saturday is one of four candidates still in the running for the position, with Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and Lions DC Aaron Glenn all up for the job, according to NFL Network. 

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