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La Canfora: Chuck Pagano Reportedly On Way Out of Indy


According to CBS Sports Jason La Canfora, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano could very well be coaching in his last season on the team’s sidelines:

"“Within the Colts’ headquarters and among those closest to coach Chuck Pagano, it’s being viewed as a foregone conclusion that he will coach elsewhere next year despite three highly successful seasons in Indianapolis,” writes La Canfora.“There has been growing friction between Pagano and Ryan Grigson, the Colts’ general manager,” continues La Canfora. “While the two are not constantly feuding or at each other’s throats, their ability to coexist long-term was greatly compromised by how Colts owner Jim Irsay handled contract talks during the offseason and there is little chance these two are working together beyond this season.”"

Of course, it confirms an earlier report from WTHR’s Bob Kravitz, in which he reported of growing disconnect between Pagano and the team’s general manager Ryan Grigson.

Sep 3, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano coaches on the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

However, it’s a bit surprising that such dysfunction is coming out right before the team’s regular season opener against the Buffalo Bills, as such matters should be kept safely in-house until season’s end for a team with serious championship aspirations.

While Pagano’s teams have struggled dramatically against the New England Patriots, having lost their last 3 matchups including 2 season-ending blowout losses, his teams have improved each season under his tutelage.

From a Wildcard berth in 2012 to the AFC Championship game just this past season (with a Divisional Round appearance in between), Pagano’s teams have consistently progressed with the next logical step a Super Bowl appearance.

In his first 3 seasons as Colts head coach, Pagano has compiled a 33-15 (.688) record, having never missed the playoffs during that span. Still, as the recent firings of the Denver Broncos John Fox and San Francisco 49ers Jim Harbaugh have shown, there’s more to it than simply winning games these days:

  •  John Fox (2012-14): 46-18 (.719), 2 Divisional Round and a Super Bowl Appearance
  • Jim Harbaugh (2011-14): 44-19 (.695), 2 Conference Championships and a Super Bowl Appearance

It wouldn’t be exactly an unprecedented league move for the Colts to fire Pagano, even after such considerable success. However, it’s fair to question whether he should be the “fall guy” for the team failing to make or win a Super Bowl.

Pagano hasn’t been perfect by any means, but to be fair, he hasn’t exactly been given much young talent to work with on the defensive side of the football. The Colts have brought in a defensive-minded coach, yet invested most of their resources in salary cap and early draft picks to Andrew Luck and the offense.

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s worth noting that many of Grigson’s high-priced free agent signings haven’t worked out as envisioned, as Gosder Cherilus, LaRon Landry, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Donald Thomas are no longer even on the team. While the team has also essentially whiffed on two of its recent first round picks in trading one for super-bust Trent Richardson and drafting ineffective pass rusher Bjoern Werner in 2013.

To me, the future fates of Grigson and Pagano should be tied together. It doesn’t seem fair to me that Irsay could dismiss one without the under also being handed his walking papers.

A master chef is only as oftentimes as good as his ingredients after all, and can one reasonably blame Pagano for the team’s failures when he’s been given less than a full pantry to work with?

Yes, having Luck has certainly helped matters, and he no doubt covers many of the team’s deficiencies. However, before this season, this Colts roster couldn’t exactly be considered championship caliber from an objective perspective.

That’s not just on the coaching staff, it’s also on management. 

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