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Chuck Pagano talks about Colts' recent coaching staff changes

Chuck Pagano was retained as Colts head coach this year, but the team still made a number of changes to their coaching staff. Pagano talked with the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder at the Senior Bowl this week about those changes.

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After the 2015 regular season ended, Colts owner Jim Irsay made the stunning decision to bring back head coach Chuck Pagano on a new four-year contract.  Just because Pagano was being brought back to maintain continuity, however, didn't mean that there wouldn't be changes coming, and in the weeks since then the Colts have blown up their coaching staff.

The Colts fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, safeties coach Roy Anderson, secondary coach Mike Gillhamer, tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts, running backs coach Charlie Williams, head strength and conditioning coach Roger Marandino, and linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald.  Offensive line coach Hal Hunter wasn't retained, while the team's other offensive line coach, Joe Gilbert, was demoted to assistant offensive line coach.  Lastly, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen left to take a promotion elsewhere, as he became the Dolphins' offensive coordinator.  And, if you'll remember, this all comes after the Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton mid-season.  Clearly, though Pagano was brought back it's not business as usual in Indianapolis.

With the NFL world in Mobile, Alabama this week for the Senior Bowl, the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder caught up with Chuck Pagano, who hadn't addressed the media since the press conference announcing his extension - before the coaching staff moves took place.

"We lost some really good men," Pagano said, declining to get into the specifics on the decision-making that went into the decision to fire the coaches but acknowledging it wasn't an easy process.  "Some really good coaches and some really good men.  Those guys gave blood, sweat and tears - everything they had - to the horseshoe.  Selfless guys.  I'm grateful to all of them."

One of the coaches who Pagano wanted to keep around was Clyde Christensen, who had been with the Colts in various roles for 14 seasons and as quarterbacks coach for the past four, but Pagano doesn't blame him for taking the Dolphins' coordinator job.  "Clyde did a phenomenal job for a lot of years," Pagano told Holder.  "But he got a tremendous opportunity to go be a coordinator.  You can't turn down opportunities like that.  He's sacrificed before to stay with the Colts.  What he's done, putting his fingerprints on this team, he's left a huge mark.  We're forever in debt to Clyde for that.  Not just the football coach, but the man."

Pagano and the Colts have been busy working to fill the various roles left open by the firings, and they've already filled several of them (others could certainly be coming soon, as there are plenty of coaches looking for work at the Senior Bowl to talk with).  Ted Monachino was hired as defensive coordinator, as the former Ravens linebackers coach was hand-picked by Pagano to help run the defense moving forward.  Though it's Pagano's system and one that Monachino is very familiar with, the Colts' head coach wouldn't rule out potential changes when talking with Holder.

"He's a good football coach and he's been around a lot of different (schemes)," Pagano said.  "Obviously there's familiarity from us being together and coaching together under the same system, but the game is changing.  And we have to do the same thing.  It won't be a cookie-cutter kind of deal.  We'll look at everything."

Two other coaching hires - offensive line coach Joe Philbin and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer - also drew praise from Pagano.  He called Philbin "the epitome of a football coach" and praised the coach's ability to help offensive lines, while he said that Schottenheimer "will bring fresh ideas, new energy, passion to that (position) and to the building."

Rounding out the new coaching hires so far for the Colts are linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, defensive backs coach Greg Williams, and strength and conditioning coach Darren Krein.  Others, as mentioned earlier, are surely coming soon as the Colts still have some positions left to fill.  It's a group that Pagano feels good about, however, and it's one that he's ready to work with.  He told Holder that he's been given another chance with the Colts and his responsibility is to bring a Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis.  Hopefully, the new coaching staff he's put in place helps him do just that.