Report: Colts nearly fired Chuck Pagano before 2015 season

Feb 19, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts had a tumultuous season and seemed destined for a coaching change that never came, but a new report says it was much closer than we might think.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. That’s how the old saying goes. If that’s the case, the “Colts will fire Chuck Pagano” rumors could have set the entire city of Indianapolis ablaze last December.

Everything pointed towards a toxic relationship between Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson, one that was so bad nothing could fix it. Then owner Jim Irsay sat down with both the Monday after the season ended, hashed out all their issues, and signed both coach and GM to a four year extension.

We don’t know how they managed to work out their problems, but one thing is for sure: there were in fact problems at the Colts complex. The leaks coming out of West 56th Street were steady and consistent from multiple sources. Everyone in Indianapolis was reporting the same thing, and it was echoed by people in the national media as well.

One such person was FOX Sport’s Jay Glazer, who recently spoke about the matter with regards to something he got wrong. As a journalist who usually gets every story right, Glazer was clearly shocked when the Colts decided to keep Pagano.

Speaking on Bill Simmons’ podcast, Glazer spoke about the situation and it offered a little more insight into the mess that was the 2015 season.

"“Yeah things changed,” Glazer said. “Not only that, they were going to get rid of the guy (Pagano) the year before if he didn’t beat the Broncos in that playoff game, they were going to get rid of him the year before.“And then in the offseason, they gave him a one-year extension offer as the lowest-paid head coach in the league.  So that’s where this information was coming from, plus when you go there to camp it’s easy the GM is just all over him and Chuck is like, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this s–t.’ Every player in there is like ‘dude, this is ridiculous.’  And then as the season went on you heard more and more, and when the season ended, still he knew he was gone.“You always try and help your friends out behind the scenes to see what could be available and what not and where you could help guys out, and I try to somewhat be like a temp agency, if you will.  And it was a foregone conclusion (Pagano would be fired). And then all of the sudden Irsay said, because the players are like, ‘we want him,’ and (Irsay) made them sit down and hash it out and gave him an extension like they should have, but I ended up being wrong.”"

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The big piece of news here is that the Colts were going to fire a coach based on winning or losing a game in the playoffs. That is apparently Grigson or Irsay’s standard for the Colts at this point. After three straight 11-5 seasons, Pagano might have been axed for not beating Peyton Manning and Denver on the road in January.

This is not something that supposedly successful and functional franchises do. This is what the Browns do (pretty much every year). There are plenty of reasons that they could fire Pagano (he’s bad at game planning and has an antiquated philosophy) but his win-loss record isn’t one of them.

The little snippets that Glazer glosses over here shows how there really was some level of disconnect and dysfunction between Grigson and Pagano. And more importantly, how the players knew that this was a problem.

This isn’t a particularly surprising revelation or anything from Glazer. This just adds more confirmation to the rumors we heard all season long (and really for years) about the Colts brass and their lack of a reasonable relationship.