Earlier this offseason former GM Ryan Grigson was relieved of his duties and Chris Ballard was hired in his place. Since the hiring of Ballard, strides have already been made to fix the mess left by his predecessor, but one change that has not been made is head coach. Ballard and Irsay have both confirmed that Pagano is and will be our head coach for the 2017-2018 season, but neither would guarantee anything moving forward.
On paper Pagano’s resume looks good. In five years as Indianapolis’ head coach, he has posted a .613 win % with three playoff berths including a trip to the AFC championship in 2014. The players also love Coach Pagano. In fact last offseason when players caught wind that his job may be in jeopardy many players took to social media to pledge support for their head coach.
Coach P!!! Coach P!!!! Coach P!!! Coach P!!! Coach P!!! Coach P!!! Coach P!!!! Must Stay ……
— Donte Moncrief (@drm_12) January 3, 2016
Nothing but love for this team! #ChuckStay
— Matt (@MattOverton_LS) January 3, 2016
I have no idea what the future holds.. But. I'll forever love my time as a Colt w/ Chuck Pagano as head coach.. Great win.. Let's celebrate
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 3, 2016
However, the Colts have now finished behind the Houstan Texans the previous two seasons in what has been a weak AFC South and also missed the playoffs both years. The Colts have also been among the worst defensively in the league during that time. This is not a good look for Pagano as the Colts hired him as a defensive minded coach. Now, of course, the “You can only coach the players you have” argument comes into play and they have a point to an extent. However even with the older veterans and the disappointing young guys that Grigson had brought in it is ultimately the coaches job to develop the players and draw up the game plan that best fits their personnel.
So take the good with the bad and where does that leave Pagano’s future with the team? Well, we could speculate all we want but the only two people who have any clue are Irsay and Ballard. A lot is going to be determined based on the kind of season the Colts have this year. No one expects the Colts to contend for a Super Bowl immediately, but with the young defensive core brought in by Ballard and Indy’s franchise QB Andrew Luck, there is every reason to believe that the Colts can reclaim the AFC South. Another strike against Pagano over the past five seasons is not having the team prepared for their games. It seemed like ever week Indianapolis would fall early to teams and have to play the majority of games from behind. This is another thing that must improve from Pagano next season for Ballard and Irsay to even consider keeping him after this season. Missing the playoffs would almost be an automatic firing of Pagano. Although making the playoffs would be a huge boost in Pagano’s chances a first round exit could also be bad for his future with the team.
So will Pagano be with the Colts after the 2017-2018 season? As of right now, it is hard to tell. He has a lot of work to do before he has won over the new General Manager. Ballard has already shown that he expects the best out of his men so don’t think that his head coach will be treated any differently.