The Indianapolis Colts will play their regular season finale on Sunday against the Titans and, barring a miracle, it will be their final game of the season period. That means that massive changes will be coming, and while everyone knows that the changes will happen, ESPN's Mike Wells is now reporting it as fact.
According to Wells, the Colts will indeed fire head coach Chuck Pagano. Again, it's the least surprising "breaking news" ever, but now it's truly being reported. Much more interesting, however, is Wells' report that general manager Ryan Grigson will stick around - though perhaps not as GM.
Ryan Grigson will be retained through at the least the coaching search, but there's no guarantee he'll be Colts GM next season, sources say
— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) December 31, 2015
Wells goes on to say in an article that Grigson's fate will be determined by the next head coach:
Grigson helping to find Pagano's replacement does not guarantee that he'll be the Colts' general manager next season, according to sources. Grigson will not return if the new coach has his own general manager preference, according to sources. Owner Jim Irsay will also be heavily involved in the coaching search.
So, basically, Ryan Grigson will be assisting owner Jim Irsay in the next head coaching search, but if the head coach they decide on has his own general manager preference, Irsay might be willing to move on from Grigson. There are all sorts of questions that go along with that (why would Grigson look for a coach who would be powerful enough to bring his own GM?) and shows that Irsay might not be fully confident in Grigson's abilities either but simply needs help in finding the next head coach. It could also be possible that Grigson would stay on with the organization but simply in a different role if the Colts brought in a new general manager with their new head coach.
Basically, it sounds like Jim Irsay isn't sold on Ryan Grigson as his general manager but doesn't want to fire him unless the team's new head coach can bring with him a general manager. I know, that's confusing, but I think it again all comes down to who the Colts hire as head coach. It would mean that Grigson may stay longer than Chuck Pagano but that doesn't mean that his job status is secure. Again, there are many who would say that Irsay should either commit to Grigson or move on, but it might not turn out that way. Of course, this is only a report so we'll have to wait and see what actually happens, but it wouldn't really be a surprise if Grigson is kept around for the time being until a new head coach is brought in, and then depending on who that coach is Grigson may either be kept as general manager, demoted to a different role, or fired altogether.
Pagano's status has been up in the air for a while now, really starting to pick up when he turned down a one-year contract extension this past offseason. Since then, the Colts - a hot preseason pick to make the Super Bowl - have struggled to a 7-8 record, all but securing Pagano's fate. It has long been assumed that the Colts wouldn't retain Pagano this offseason and would instead let him go, and that does indeed seem to be what they will do. In nearly four years with the team, Pagano has gone 40-23 and made three playoff appearances, winning two division titles and compiling a 3-3 playoff record. If the Colts win on Sunday, he will not have had a losing season in four years as the coach of the team. It's the curse of expectations, however, and since huge things were expected of the Colts this year, the fact that they are almost certain to miss the playoffs essentially sealed Pagano's fate.
Apparently, though, it won't have sealed Ryan Grigson's fate. Unless, of course, the guy Grigson is helping to look for wants to replace Grigson, in which case Jim Irsay might be willing to move on from Grigson. If that sounds like it's a mess to you, that's because it is, but we really shouldn't have expected anything less from this franchise this year.