The Indianapolis Colts and Jim Irsay announced last night that they would be giving coach Chuck Pagano a four year extension, but does this solve anything?
Going back to last spring we had heard reports about the rift between head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. There were whispers over the past few years, but picked up steam over the past few months culmination in reports of a toxic relationship between the two.
Jim Irsay apparently had Grigson and Pagano hug everything out last night and now everyone is on the same page. Irsay preached continuity last night and tied the two’s future together with contract extensions that presumably keep the duo here for four more years.
Some fans cheered, others lamented. Everyone was confused on some level.
There are a lot of questions that still persist following this news.
1. What is the balance of power now between Pagano and Grigson?
There were all kinds of reports about Grigson meddling with the starting lineups and Pagano being overruled on disciplinary decisions. Is that going to change? Will Pagano be setting the starting lineups and hiring his assistant coaches?
There needs to be a clear divide between the front office and coaching staff. Grigson should be concerned with bringing the right players while Pagano is in charge of developing and putting them in a position to succeed.
2. Is there an agreement on what kind of team the Colts are going to be?
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Pagano has long stated he wants a team that can run the ball and stop the run. This, as we’ve mentioned before, is antiquated philosophy. But Grigson helped to bring in those kinds of players over the first few years. As time progressed, he bought in to the notion of passing the ball, since it is the team’s biggest strength.
Does that mean Pagano will shift his philosophy a bit? Will there be a compromise between the two? Pagano seems to have a “win this way” mentality when it comes to football, which is a horrible way to coach any sport. It should always be “score the most points” and how do we achieve that goal. For the Colts (and most NFL teams) it is pass the ball (and to prevent a team from scoring, stop the pass).
If Pagano and Grigson can’t agree on how to build this team (which Irsay said has to get younger), then we’re going to see more of the same problems next season.
3. What changed between now and when Pagano was offered a one-year extension over the summer?
Is Irsay giving him a mulligan for an injury riddled season or did Pagano really make an impassioned speech in a private meeting to save his job? It is entirely possible Pagano and Grigson really sat down and talked out their issues in front of their boss. But the skeptic in me says that this trio is still dysfunctional.
You can look at Pagano’s record and think he’s a good coach, but he’s had five losses by 28-plus points in the past four years, more than any other team. He may be a great motivator of men, but Pagano’s teams often look unprepared and get off to slow starts. This season was no exception, so why was Pagano not good enough for a big extension before the season but he is now?
The only thing that makes any sense is that because the Colts didn’t completely tank without Andrew Luck for most of the year that qualifies as a success.
4. Will there be any changes to the coaching staff?
You can easily argue that Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky have accomplished a lot despite having a severe lack of talent on that side of the ball. Offensively, the Colts fired Pep Hamilton mid-season and Pagano’s guy Rob Chudzinski took over.
Manusky will surely be back next season. But what about Chud? Nothing about his play calling was all that impressive (until they played the pathetic Titans in finale). Hamilton was a scapegoat, and Chud really didn’t fix any of the team’s offensive woes. He only had one game with Luck, but still didn’t seem to understand the strengths of the offense.
Grigson essentially forced Hamilton on Pagano, so it is unlikely that we’ll see that kind of move happen again. But we still don’t know what the fate of Chud is. If the Colts brass came to an agreement on direction, does that mean they’ll open up the passing a bit like Hamilton did (which led to the top passing attack in the country in 2014)?
The problem is that we likely won’t have answers for months. It doesn’t sound like we’ll hear from Pagano or Grigson until the NFL Scouting Combine in late February.
We’ll make sure to piece together this puzzle as the offseason progresses.