The Indianapolis Colts' 2015 season has not gone as expected or hoped, as a team that entered the year with Super Bowl expectations has struggled their way to a 3-4 record through seven games, with all three wins coming against the awful AFC South. Their next two games are against the undefeated Carolina Panthers and the currently undefeated Denver Broncos, making it entirely possible that they will be 3-6 heading into the bye week - the time of the schedule where in-season coaching changes are most often made.
According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Colts might be in that category of making changes at the bye week as owner Jim Irsay is getting more and more frustrated. Wrote La Canfora:
"Owner Jim Irsay has grown increasingly frustrated with the Colts' dismal season, and the regression of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, in particular, and is considering staff changes in-season should the team not pull out of its funk, according to league sources. The Colts face two unbeaten teams the next two weeks -- Carolina and Denver -- before their bye, and it would come as no surprise to members of the coaching staff and front office if Irsay begins a shake-up then."
La Canfora writes that it is "virtually certain" that head coach Chuck Pagano won't be back with the Colts in 2016 (and that the University of Miami opening would hold "considerable interest" with Pagano), and La Canfora also notes that "general manager Ryan Grigson's future is also in doubt, despite his strong ties to ownership."
It's unclear what changes would happen at the bye week, but Pagano is the obvious answer to fire mid-season. La Canfora, however, mentions another coach in addition to Pagano who's job is in trouble: offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
"Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is under duress as well, with Luck's struggles at the core of the team's crisis, and a change of coordinators is under consideration as well, sources said, with associate head coach Rob Chudzinski -- who was Pagano's preference as offensive coordinator all along -- and long-time Colts staffer Clyde Christensen likely replacements (given Pagano's tenuous position, Christensen would likely hold more attraction to the owner in this instance)."
So, to sum it all up, no one is safe within the Colts' organization right now. The status of general manager Ryan Grigson, head coach Chuck Pagano, and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton with the Colts are all in doubt, and it's very possible that if the Colts are 3-6 at the bye week that changes could be made at that point, beginning a house-cleaning process.
What is interesting is the question of what those changes would be. As I already mentioned, firing Pagano would be the easy and logical choice that most would choose, but how much would that really help things? Unless Andrew Luck magically turned things around, whoever replaces Pagano wouldn't really be able to have a ton of success. That's why the part about La Canfora mentioning Pep Hamilton's future is especially interesting, considering the fact that he's the one responsible for the offense. That could give the best hope of an offensive spark, and it sounds like either Rob Chudzinski or Clyde Christensen (both of whom have been offensive coordinators at the NFL level before) would be the replacement if the move happened mid-season.
Ultimately, here are a few big takeaways from Jason La Canfora's report. Firstly, it's another report that suggests that coaching changes could be coming at the bye week, and it's another report suggesting that Jim Irsay could clean house by the end of the year if the Colts don't turn it around. Secondly, if the Colts do fire Pagano mid-season, this report would seem to hint that Pep Hamilton might not be chosen as the interim head coach since he too is in danger of losing his job. Thirdly, it seems that the front office changes are likely certainly coming, as long as Irsay is able to get a big-name head coach like he probably wants, as La Canfora notes what we all have realized already: that front office changes would need to happen before a prominent, established head coach would want to work for the Colts.
Nobody is safe with the Colts right now, and that's what happens when you enter a season expecting to win a Super Bowl and then struggle mightily. Jim Irsay doesn't want to repeat the Peyton Manning era by only winning one title with a franchise quarterback, and he's not going to be as patient this time around. That spells trouble for Ryan Grigson, Chuck Pagano, Pep Hamilton, and others, who all are in part responsible for the slow start. The question right now seems to be what moves will be made at the bye week in-season, and La Canfora's report suggests that it would be either Chuck Pagano, Pep Hamilton, or both being fired if the Colts can't turn things around.