Indianapolis Colts: Why Chuck Pagano Deserves One More Shot
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano reacts during a NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Colts 33-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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I know there are many Indianapolis Colts fans that feel confused and angered that Chuck Pagano is being brought back in 2017. There are multiple reasons behind why it would make sense to let him go. People feel Ryan Grigson and Pagano are causing the steady decrease in production and making the wrong moves when it comes to building a Super Bowl caliber team. They definitely have shown poor judgment with players they’ve signed. They also have let go of players that have made the team worse and left some of us scratching our heads. So why in the world should he be brought back when you have these glaring issues?
Chuck Pagano has a record of 49 wins and 31 losses in his five-year stint with the Colts. That’s nothing to brag about but it’s not terrible either. Pagano has won the AFC South twice (2013 and 2014) since taking over as head coach. He has taken the Colts to the wild card in 2012, divisional round in 2013, and the AFC championship in 2014. Fans still think that was caused by the team that was put in place for him by prior coaches and management. How can that be so? The Colts were 2-14 in 2011 and of course, that is without Peyton Manning. However, he led the team to an 11-5 season with a rookie quarterback where they lost in the wild-card round to Baltimore 24 to 9. Now people are saying, “we’ve missed the playoffs two years in a row! It’s time for a change!”.
Let us look at the factors that caused the 8-8 season for Indianapolis. Lack of production out of the offensive line was a major issue for the colts during the 2015 season. So what did Pagano and Grigson do? Did they draft more receivers? NO! They used four out of eight draft picks on offensive lineman. Wouldn’t that make you think okay, they know what the issue is and they are committed to fixing it? Also, Pagano brought Joe Philbin on board, which turned out to be the best free agent move they made during their last offseason. It took time and moving players around to find the right combination on that offensive line. But looking back at the last four weeks of the season, it seemed they found the right combination. Don’t forget about the amount of injuries also being a huge factor. We all understand that injuries are a part of the game and you have to be able to win with the next man up. The Colts, however, were losing that next man and the man after that consistently through the season. With all of that being said, the Colts still managed to finish 8-8.
Some of this blame, if not the majority of it, goes on the players. The Colts could have easily won the AFC south and made it into the playoffs if they simply could have finished two games they gave up late. Against the Lions, the defense gave up a 50-yard drive in 33 seconds. This lead to a 43 yard field goal by Matt Prater and a last second safety where the Colts had to try a hail mary. Also, in week six, they gave up a 14 point lead with less than 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter where they ended up losing in overtime. People say it was caused by the coaching, and to an extent that may be true. However, the players have to be able to finish off games like those. That would have led to a 10-6 season, an AFC South title, and a playoff berth.
Many people can agree that the Colts have been a disappointment the last two years. Their fans were used to averaging 11 to 12 wins per season and going to the playoffs was expected to happen every year. But that doesn’t mean that hiring any of the available coaches is going to lead them immediately back to the playoffs. Pagano has done a good job with the team he has and the injuries he has had to overcome. To think anything different than that, is ridiculous. If they can make the much needed improvements to their linebacking core and get healthy, they’ll be back in the playoffs in 2017. Pagano deserves another shot!