Jim Irsay: “Wrong to assume” it is win or else for Chuck Pagano

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The Colts made a change at General Manager after the 2016 season by dispatching Ryan Grigson and bringing in Chris Ballard to run the personnel side of things in his place.

Coach Chuck Pagano remains in his job, but Ballard’s arrival and two straight years out of the playoffs would seem to put him in the crosshairs should the team decide to make another change heading into the 2018 season. During a media session at the owners meetings in Arizona on Monday, Colts owner Jim Irsay said that any decision on that front won’t be based solely on the team’s record.

Irsay talked about the need to build around young players who will be with the team for several years and broached the possibility of trading down in the draft to stockpile picks, both of which could be seen as signs of a patient approach in Indianapolis. His comments about Pagano send the same message.

“I think it is wrong to assume, particularly coming from me, the owner, that, ‘Hey, Chuck, you better win or else. … This year, you’ve got to get it done,'” Irsay said, via the Indianapolis Star. “Honestly, I think it’s really about seeing how we are getting the best players on the field and really doing the type of smart things that really make you sit back and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if Chuck would have done that three or four years ago. I see growth there.'”

Improvement in terms of the team’s record is black and white, but the progress that Irsay is talking about can be a bit harder to quantify. That’s especially true if the focus on developing younger players coincides with a downturn in the standings that upsets a fanbase that likely expected to be in a different place at this stage of quarterback Andrew Luck’s career.