The curiously selective leak from last week that Colts coach Chuck Pagano will enter a lame-duck season without a new contract, which came without a mention that Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson occupies the same posture, has raised legitimate questions about their working relationship.
Those questions have prompted multiple league sources to point out to PFT that the Pagano and Grigson relationship may have been strained by the allegations against the Patriots arising from the AFC title game. During the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Grigson surprisingly admitted that he’d alerted the league to the concerns regarding air pressure in New England footballs in the days before the conference championship.
Whether Pagano knew or didn’t know about the suspicions before the game (and if Grigson knew but didn’t tell Pagano, that’s a problem), Pagano has opted for much greater discretion regarding the situation, routinely declining to talk about the situation and deferring to the pending investigation.
As one source has explained it, the issue created a distraction in the locker room at halftime of a game that the Colts trailed 17-7. With only 12 minutes to get ready for the final 30 minutes of action, anything other than a complete and total focus on the task at hand understandably would have irritated the head coach.
The primary football question emanating from the 45-7 loss relates to the inability of the Colts to stop the run, something Pagano recently called the team’s “Achilles heel.” Despite a significant free-agency haul this month, the Colts didn’t upgrade the interior of the defensive line. They were never going to pursue Ndamukong Suh, but they could have made a play for Vince Wilfork or Haloti Ngata. It remains unclear why they didn’t.
The ability of Grigson and Pagano to set aside any differences and work together remains critical to their mutual success. Owner Jim Irsay could go a long way toward making them both understand that they need to work together.
Irsay has said nothing about last week’s report that Pagano could be in a make-or-break season. Grigson likewise has said nothing about his own status, or Pagano’s. Pagano’s statement from Friday night doesn’t really shed much light on the dynamics of his relationship with either man.
Regardless of how it all plays out, the Colts have suddenly replaced the 49ers as the franchise folks will be watching the most closely for signs of owner-G.M.-coach dysfunction until the team’s 2015 season ends.