If folks want to argue event timelines and banter about whether the players or the head coach are responsible for the recent list of off-field distractions, I can't stop you from doing that. All I can say is it doesn't address the main, underlining truth that, no matter what, the conduct of the players is always the responsibility of the head coach and the people in charge of the front office.
That's how it is, folks.
It took a while, but Chuck Pagano FINALLY addressed the month-long cycle of bad news involving players and off-the-field distractions that have negatively affected the Colts. However, rather than inform us that there has been some additional punishment imposed in order to ensure these types of distractions do not happen again, we got this (from Mike Chappell at the Indianapolis Star):
"Obviously you’re extremely disappointed as a coach and a staff and an organization," Pagano told The Indianapolis Star on Wednesday. "The (players) are equally or more disappointed because we talk all the time about representing (the Colts’ horseshoe), this organization, this city, your family, your name on the back of your jersey."
OK. Great. "Disappointed." No sh*t. Thanks for letting us know, coach.
Now, what are you going to do to make certain that the players know this type of stuff is unacceptable and, if it's done again, there will be significant consequences? You know, like releasing someone.
What have you done to improve off-the-field player discipline?
"Like everyone else, we’re educating these guys daily," Pagano said. "We’re talking to them all the time about making great choices.
"Some guys made poor choices."
One choice the Colts have not made is to part ways with any of the players. While that could change, Pagano stressed, "We’re behind these guys. It’s always disappointing to have something like that happen, but we’ll get through it and move forward.
"Hopefully we can grow from that, learn from it."
No one is getting cut?
No one is held accountable?
You're just going to "talk with them" about "making great choices?"
<kicks a small nearby baby seal>
Look, I understand that cutting anyone who screws up once is too extreme. A guy like Joe Lefeged shouldn't lose his job because of his arrest in DC in late-June. But, with LaVon Brazill and Weslye Saunders, these guys are repeat offenders. Brazill's only been in the league one year, and already he has two strikes against him for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Meanwhile, Saunders has a violations "rap sheet" that goes back to his college days.
So, the message Pagano has conveyed here is that if you are a f*ck up off-field, it's OK! You won't lose your job. The head coach will just continue to "talk" to you, like he's your high school guidance counselor, or something.
Seriously, if I'm a player on the Colts, I have no fear of Chuck Pagano. None. And if I'm a consistent f*ck up, I'm likely to continue to be so because, hey, what do I have to be afraid of? This guy isn't going to release me or anything.
It seems Pagano is very hung up on educating grown men on how not to do illegal things that, for pretty much everyone else, seem like no-brainers. I don't know if he knows this, but a really good educational tool is setting an example.
"This is what happens when you screw up-- "Boom! Cut! Seeya later, pal!"
If history is a judge, people tend to fall in line when their source of income is threatened.
Mike Chappell of the Star said recently that he'd be shocked if Brazill, Saunders, and Lefeged were all on the roster at the start of camp. Chappy felt that at least one of them had to lose a job over this.
Looks like no. All these guys are coming to camp.
If suspensions and arrests continue to happen with this roster, the spotlight will shift away from the players and their transgressions and shine brighter on Pagano and his inaction. Embarrassments like what happened in the month of June and early July are not acceptable. They embarrass the franchise and the city, as Pagano himself said. If they continue, Pagano failing to do something about them now will likely be seen as a reason why.
I say all this as someone who likes Pagano. I like the lighter, more jovial tone he's brought to this franchise. He's also a smart, eloquent, and insightful guy when he talks to the media and to fans. It's so much better than the robotic gibberish that Jim Caldwell would crap out of his mouth.
However, I have concerns the Pagano might not be wiling to lay down the law with his players, and if he cannot do that, then he and the Colts are in trouble.
The Colts announced that Weslye Saunders was waived today and his roster spot was taken-up by a former rugby player. Ouch! So much for Pagano's "We're behind these players" comment.
As I wrote in my first critique on Pagano's ineffectiveness on this issue back on July 20th:
As Mike Chappell recently pointed out, it seems unlikely that all three of these players will still be on the roster when training camp opens on July 27th.
But, really, what's cutting a player now gonna do?
If that sort of discipline were going to be measured out, Brazill and Lefeged would have been cut already, and cutting Saunders now hardly puts the fear of god into anyone. He's a back-up tight end on a team with two tight ends drafted high in 2012 and a third one drafted in the 7th round this year.
If you think cutting Saunders now sends some kind of message, or if it's a sign that Pagano is laying down the law, sorry, but you got no clue. Saunders was a bubble player who probably would have been cut anyway regardless of his eight-game suspension.