During this one true dead period of the NFL year, one of the popular tasks that people in the media undertake are rankings. You can pretty much rank anything and it leads to good discussion, and so we see a lot of those rankings around this time of year. A lot of the time they have to do with quarterbacks and players, but head coaches are also one that you see at times.
Recently, NFL.com's Elliot Harrison ranked the 32 head coaches in the NFL, and on his list, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano came in at number 11. Here's what Harrison had to say about Pagano:
Back in 2012, no one really knew what to think of Pagano -- specifically with regard to what kind of job he could do. He'd implemented a plan for the Colts, only to miss almost the entire season while fighting leukemia. Yet, over the last two seasons, Indianapolis has improved, winning one additional playoff game each season. His players play for him, and that, as much as anything, is indicative of a solid head coach.
Ahead of Pagano on the list were Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians, Tom Coughlin, John Fox, and Andy Reid. Pagano is ranked ahead of guys like Chip Kelly, Jason Garrett, Jeff Fisher, and Rex Ryan, as well as former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell (number 16).
So, what about Chuck Pagano being ranked 11th? Honestly, I think that's perfectly fair and probably right around where he should be ranked. He has gone 33-15 in three years with the Colts, has made the playoffs three times, has won two division titles, and has a 3-3 playoff record, going one step further each season. His teams have absolutely improved and he is a very likable guy who the players seem to like a lot and play hard for. On the other hand, however, are some of the issues that those of us who watch the Colts closer seem to notice. There will be those games where the Colts look flat, unprepared, and get greatly outcoached. There will be those questionable in-game decisions. And there are still questions about the defense that Pagano was brought in to fix (I place more blame for that on Ryan Grigson than I do on Pagano, but that's another discussion for another time).
So when you consider the whole picture, number 11 seems just about right for Pagano. He has had a lot of success since coming to the Colts in 2012, but there are still some questions about him as a coach. My assessment of him for quite a while has been that he'll never be a coach who's among the best in the NFL but that he's a guy who can help lead you to a title - provided that you have someone like Andrew Luck. Do I think that Chuck Pagano is the best coach or should be higher on this list? No, not really. But do I think the Colts can win a Super Bowl with Chuck Pagano? Yeah, I do. So when you add those two things together, plus the success he has had along with the questions some fans have, number 11 on a list like this seems just right.