2015 began as the year of the mutual parting, with a pair of successful coaches who were unable to achieve ultimate success leaving their teams. That trend could continue in 2016, if the Colts don’t extend the contract of coach Chuck Pagano, and if he moves on after the season ends.
Complicating matters is the identical status of G.M. Ryan Grigson. Both he and Pagano will be commencing contract years, which means that either Grigson or Pagano may bear the ultimate blame for the failure of the Colts to get beyond (or at least stay within 38 points of) the Patriots.
It also means that Grigson and Pagano could be tempted to blame each other, in the event that the 2015 season at any point unravels. If, for example, the team’s run defense — its “Achilles heel,” per Pagano — continues to fail to slow down New England, Pagano could be tempted to blame it on the personnel, and Grigson could be tempted to blame it on the coaching.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com suspects, as he explained during Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, that a disconnect already exists between Pagano and Grigson. The leak that Pagano (but not Grigson) won’t be getting a new contract before the season at a minimum raises a question about whether Pagano already is being set up to take the fall.
Regardless of their current relationship, it becomes critical for Pagano and Grigson to band together, setting aside a desire to survive something less than a full-blown purge and accepting the notion that both will stay or both will go. Three years ago, owner Jim Irsay opted to press the reset button, firing both coach Jim Caldwell and G.M. Bill Polian. This time around, Irsay may be inclined to fire only one or the other; after the 2001 season, Polian stayed and coach Jim Mora was let go.
To be as successful as they possible can be, Pagano and Grigson need to commit to cooperation and mutual support. That’s definitely easier said than done, especially since one of them sits in a box with the owner during games and the other one is down on the sidelines, wondering what they may be talking about up there.