If you were to make a list of the most unpopular people in Indianapolis this week, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton might top the list. It has been a very rough season for both of them, as the Colts currently sit at 3-4 and have been very underwhelming. Perhaps the most disappointing part has been their offense, which has been largely ineffective this year after a terrific season a year ago. Andrew Luck has not played well, but Pep Hamilton hasn't been particularly effective, either.
With the Indianapolis Colts traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina for Monday night's game against the Panthers, many Panthers writers are wanting to know about Hamilton, who grew up in Charlotte. Head coach Chuck Pagano told Carolina media on a conference call Wednesday that Hamilton "rants and raves" about the area and "loves the area." The talk soon shifted back to football, however, and Pagano defended his offensive coordinator.
"I think he's outstanding," Pagano said of Hamilton and the offensive play-calling. "I think like anything else it'd be real easy to sit back and, hindsight is always 20-20, and say well, ‘Why didn't you do this or that?' We get going and we get out of the gate and we put points on the board early and we have success early and again, it's team football and you can stay balanced, but when you fall behind it becomes difficult on both guys on either side. Defensively, when you're behind every play is life or death. When you're playing with a lead it's easy. We just have to do a better job and try to get off to a better start and it makes life easier on everybody."
A recent report from CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora indicated that general manager Ryan Grigson (and not Pagano) was the driving force behind hiring Hamilton in 2013, and that would seem to leave the door open for Pagano trying to shift the blame to Hamilton, who wasn't his hire. At least publicly, there's none of that, as Pagano is standing behind his offensive coordinator. He's not the only member of the Colts doing so, however, as quarterback Andrew Luck (who played for Hamilton at Stanford and now the last three years with the Colts) is supporting Pep as well.
"He is great," Luck told Carolina media on Wednesday. "It has been a lot of fun. I think going into year five or six with Coach Pep back to Stanford and then here. He is incredibly sharp and he comes up with some very creative, inventive ways to attack defenses. He is a great teacher. He always tells stories about growing up in Charlotte, so it will be fun. It will be my first time to Charlotte besides the airport so it will be fun to put a place to a name."
Credit Pagano, Luck, and the rest of the Colts for this: they're not throwing each other under the bus. Pagano has said that he needs to get better, Luck has said that he needs to get better, Hamilton has said that he needs to get better, and several other players have said it as well. It's a collective effort, but at the same time, the coaching staff will likely take the fall for the failures unless there's a miraculous turnaround. If there's any hope of that turnaround happening, Luck and the offense will certainly need to be outstanding moving forward, and the head coach still has confidence in his offensive coordinator to help them do just that.