Two words Jim Irsay has used repeatedly to describe where the Indianapolis Colts are heading in 2012. Now, with the hiring of former-, the organization is truly entering uncharted territory. defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano as the Colts new head coach
The firing of Bill and Chris Polian was the beginning, and the hiring of first-time general manager Ryan Grigson continued to hammer home the message. The Colts could have opted to promote from within, handing the G.M. duties to their director of player personnel Tom Telesco. However, Telesco's best friend is Chris Polian, and he owes his career to Bill. Simply promoting Telesco didn't read 'New Era.' It read 'Polian-Lite.'
Then there was the news that the franchise would retain Jim Caldwell as head coach (while also hiring Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator). If Caldwell had stayed, 'New Era' would have been about a relevant as 'New Coke.' Caldwell had to go, and when Spagnuolo left his coordinator interview (which Caldwell participated in) without a deal, Caldwell's fate was sealed.
Replacing Caldwell is someone very different. Gone are the coaches from the Tony Dungy tree. The temperament both Dungy and Caldwell practiced on the sidelines will be replaced by Pagano, a man who once told the media, on the record, that his coaching stint as an assistant in Oakland was comparable to a prison sentence.
No, seriously. He actually said that, and he did so with a I-could-give-a-crap-how-Oakland-feels-about-this expression on his face.
Pagano is known for his brashness and his humor. He is considered a 'players coach,' and is not afraid to speak his mind to media. He also likes to run defensive formations out of a 3-4 base, working with large, interior tackles to mix with multiple blitz packages. He is a pressure guy. Someone who designs defenses to attack the quarterback from all angles.
More Rex Ryan. Less Tony Dungy.
This is a big shift. Tempered, pragmatic responses along the lines of 'take care of the little things' are going to be replaced by phrases on par with comparing Oakland to San Quentin.
Oh, and the Tampa-2? Likely gone. Bend-but-don't-break defense? Seeya. Zone coverages? Adios.
Get ready for blitz, blitz, and blitz some more. That's Pagano's background, which also happens to be Grigson's as well. Grigson scouted for Jim Johnson in Philadelphia, where blitzing all their linebackers was considered a prevent defense.
This is going to be a very different culture in Indianapolis. Very different indeed. From my perspective, it's a change that is long overdue. Interesting side note: Pagano was brought to the Ravens organization by John Harbaugh in 2008 to coach their secondary. John is the brother of Jim Harbaugh, the man who recruited and coached Andrew Luck at Stanford. If I have to draw out the connections even further for you, you've been living under Gibraltar the last three months.
Some people might not like this 'New Era,' and those some people probably go by the name of 'Peyton Manning.' Regardless of what those some think, change was needed. Desperately needed. In this case, the change we are getting could be a very welcome breath of fresh air.
Welcome to Indianapolis, Coach Pagano.