After his team's loss on Monday night to the Jets, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano wasn't happy. And he was honest enough to let it be known, something we have rarely seen from Pagano in his tenure with the Colts. Of course, since his star quarterback turned the football over four times in the loss, Pagano was adamant that they need to do better at protecting the football, including Luck. "Make great decisions and take care of the football," he said. "It's not that hard. It's not trigonometry."
Because those type of comments are rare from Pagano, however, some misinterpreted it as him throwing Andrew Luck under the bus. That wasn't true, as he was simply telling the truth and showing a refreshing degree of honesty. If there was any doubt, however, Pagano clarified his comments on Tuesday, though he didn't need to.
"Nobody wants to turn the ball over," Pagano said. "Us as an organization, us as a staff, whether it's me, the quarterback doesn't want to do it. It's not all on our quarterback. When you look at this thing, thank God we have the guy that we have. Thank God we have the leaders in our locker room who've been able to go through some tough times and bounce back time and time again. You talk about when I got asked the question about the quarterback, the timing, this that and the other, all that stuff.
"He's been doing phenomenal things for us over the last three years," Pagano continued. "He makes huge plays. We put a lot on his plate, and he handles it extremely well. He manages the game. He finds a way when we do have a breakdown here or there in a protection. He's big and he's strong and he's athletic and he can escape and he can extend plays. We've seen it time and time again where he's been able to, when things do breakdown, make huge plays for us. We've won, obviously we win as a team and no one man is responsible for it. We do it collectively obviously. We need everybody, but obviously he plays a major, major role in that. We've got to play more consistent. We have to eliminate the friendly fire, eliminate the penalties, take care of the football, ball security is No. 1 obviously. We've got to do a better job of it."
Pagano also took a shot after the game Monday at general manager Ryan Grigson's failures to build the offensive line over the past few years, saying that Luck is used to playing behind a struggling line and so that can't be an excuse for him now. On Tuesday, Pagano said that the statement wasn't mean with any ill-will but was rather meant as a compliment to his quarterback.
"It's really complementing our quarterback is what I was doing there," he said. "You guys know how many different lineups we've had because of injuries and this, that and the other. That's well-documented over the last three years. The way he's been able to perform and lead this football team, 11 wins three straight years, playoff wins and all those things. That's what that was, because we were talking about this, that and the other with the clock and it was saying, ‘Hey guys, we got one hell of a quarterback. We've got a great player and a great leader there.' If anybody handles that type of adversity any better then, and there are some great quarterbacks obviously around this league, but again it was more of, ‘Hey we're lucky that we've got Andrew.' He's had to deal with that over the course of the first three years when we do have some issues and things break down. Again, people are going to put pressure on you, people are going to come after you in different ways and it's not always going to be perfect. But that kid has found a way to extend plays and make plays right when everybody thought the down was over."
Pagano is right in everything he said on Tuesday, but he was also right on Monday. So much of the Colts success has been because of Andrew Luck, and he's a special player. But at the same time, he has struggled in the first two games of this season and does need to protect the football better. Considering how good he has been in the past few years, it's a safe guess that he will turn things around quickly.