Reports of Chuck Pagano’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The cancer survivor continues as the coach of the Colts despite media reports describing his firing as imminent.
The Indianapolis Colts extended head coach Chuck Pagano’s contract four years on Monday night.
The move comes as a surprise. Nine of thirteen experts at NFL.com predicted the Colts to play in the Super Bowl and oddsmakers awarded Indianapolis 8-1 odds to win the Lombardi Trophy. But the Colts failed to make the playoffs for the first time in Pagano’s four-year tenure and finished 8-8 in a weak AFC South.
ESPN reported last week the Colts had already made the decision to part with Pagano. “You know there’s going to be rebuilding, and you know there’s going to be rebuilding with a new coach,” the network’s John Clayton said after the Mike Wells report claimed a decision to move on from Pagano. But Colts owner Jim Irsay, a wildcard of sorts, opted to retain both Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, whose relationship with the head coach has been described as toxic.
Pagano approached the reports depicting him as a lame duck with characteristic optimism. “They can’t eat you,” Pagano reflected. “They can fire you. But they can’t eat you.”
“I will fight my ass off to be the coach here,’’ Pagano told reporters last week. The Colts ended the season with a win over woeful Tennessee, and Pagano addressed his team with a glass-half-full speech in the presence of owner Jim Irsay.
Kind of feel like this post game speech is what convinced Irsay to keep Pagano: https://t.co/Jf6Iq2k667
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 5, 2016
Irsay drank the Kool-Aid. The temperamental owner compared favorably the accomplishments of Grigson, Pagano, and quarterback Andrew Luck with the beginning of Peyton Manning’s era in Indianapolis with Robert Polian leading the front office.
“When I look at the old regime, the old era, you look at those first four years,” Irsay explained at a press conference. “You had two out of four seasons that were losing seasons. You had no playoff wins. That was with a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame general manager, and these guys have surpassed that in their first four years.”