The Colts will stay with what is not working, as reports finally emerged today that head coach Chuck Pagano would be retained by owner Jim Irsay. For the second year in a row, the oft-dysfunctional duo of GM Ryan Grigson and Pagano will come back for another round, when making a move somewhere would be justified.
Jim Irsay is one of the few owners in the modern NFL where his main business interest is the family business, running the team. (Most owners have made their fortunes elsewhere). You wonder how much of this plays in to him not wanting to buy one or both of these guys out. It’s hard to envision someone like Jerry Jones tolerating the two of them working together, based on the results on the field the last two seasons, considering that Andrew Luck is in the fold.
It’s seems like forever ago that the Colts were in the AFC title game, back when we were blissfully unaware of the impending Deflategate drama. Since then, the Colts have now floundered twice in the weakest division in football. Last year could have been justified with Luck’s injury, though the team was not playing well before he was shut down. To do it again, though, seems like banging your head against a wall.
Going back to 1978, there have been 25 cases where a team failed to make the postseason in two consecutive seasons, after reaching a conference championship game. In just over half of them, the coach in that title game was not back in that third year. Here is the list:
Those that were still coaching with the team are in the darker color. Of the previous 11, eight of them had appeared in a Super Bowl with the same franchise and had a lot more cache or goodwill built up. Miami staying with Don Shula after a down period is not the same. The only other two who had not been to a Super Bowl were Sean Payton and Rex Ryan. Ryan took a team with Mark Sanchez at quarterback to the title game twice. Sean Payton presided over a massive turnaround for a franchise with pretty much no history of postseason success, and then had a couple of down years due to the defense. New Orleans, of course, won the Super Bowl the next year.
Most of the decisions, though, delayed the inevitable. Only Payton and Cowher with Pittsburgh would get to a Super Bowl with the same organization.
This one feels like a mistake, and kicking the can down the road for another year, while Andrew Luck is in his prime. The GM has already blamed the salary he now has to pay Luck for his inability to construct a competent roster. On the coaching side, the team had its greatest success when Bruce Arians was in charge, and the defense (Pagano’s side) has been a failure. Irsay has had two generational talents at quarterback fall into his lap, but doesn’t seem like he knows how to take advantage of it.