It is clear that Colts owner Jim Irsay wants to learn from the mistakes of the Peyton Manning era. A tremendous era of record-shattering, Hall of Fame level play from the team's franchise quarterback was met with only one Super Bowl, something that many view as a disappointment considering Manning's talent and level of play. Irsay, like most Colts fans, feels like the Colts could have and should have won more titles during the era, and now with another franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, Irsay wants to do everything he can to make sure that happens this time around.
During the past offseason, Irsay said publicly that he wants to win "at least two" Super Bowl titles with Luck under center, and 2015 was supposed to be a year in which the Colts had a great shot at winning a ring. At times during the offseason, the Colts had the best Super Bowl odds of any team, while at other times they had the best odds in the AFC. They were a popular preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and Jim Irsay said before the season that it was hard to remember going into a season with as much excitement as this year, one that he thought could be "really special."
Through seven games, however, the Colts haven't looked close to that Super Bowl contender many were expecting. The team is 3-4, with all three wins coming against the AFC South - a division on pace to be the worst in NFL history. That has caused the job status of general manager Ryan Grigson, head coach Chuck Pagano, and others to come into serious question, and even Luck himself has been struggling.
Jim Irsay, though, still expects his team to get things turned around and contend for a Super Bowl this season. That's what Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported recently. An NFL source that Robinson says has "intimate ties to the Colts' brain trust" told Robinson that this situation is "as significant as it gets" for Pagano and Grigson, mainly because Irsay still believes the team can (and should) win.
"The pressure from the very top is going all the way down," the source told Robinson. "Knowing how [Irsay] feels about the [Manning years] and understanding how chances are lost, that plays into it. Not taking a big step [forward] is a serious problem. ... The goal in [Irsay's] mind is still the Super Bowl. It's not changing because of the start. He expects this team to put it together and compete for a Super Bowl."
Now, before someone makes a snarky comment about how it's a non-story that the owner thinks his team can win, let's be clear: of course Irsay is going to be optimistic about his team. Let's also keep in mind, however, that it's one thing to say it publicly and another to believe it behind the scenes, which seems to be the case with Irsay since this isn't a public statement but rather a report about his mindset.
More importantly, though, this has major implications for Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano. The owner still believes that this team is capable of making it to the Super Bowl this year. And while Irsay has denied that it's a "Super Bowl or bust" year for Pagano, when the owner expects a Super Bowl year and instead you go 3-4 through seven weeks, that's probably not a great thing for your job security. This could also factor in to Irsay's decision regarding whether to fire Pagano during the season, as if the Colts lose their next two games and enter the bye week 3-6, Irsay might look at his supposed Super Bowl team and try to do whatever he can to save a sinking ship - which could mean parting ways with his head coach mid-season in an attempt to turn the season around.
Unbelievably, the Colts are in first place of the AFC South and are currently in line to host a playoff game. That's crazy, but the best way to make a Super Bowl run is to first get to the playoffs. If Andrew Luck is playing better football by that time, perhaps the Colts could make a little noise, but it's hard to see much reason to believe in this team being a contender based on what we've seen so far. Jim Irsay still believes that, though, and considering the fact that he's the boss, Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano probably shouldn't be feeling too comfortable right now.