The Colts' decision to keep head coach Chuck Pagano was by all means a stunner, as the Colts gave him a four-year contract extension rather than fire him. The players' overwhelmingly positive reaction to the decision, however, was to be absolutely expected.
Pagano is very popular with the players, and that showed in the hours following the team's regular season finale as several players took to twitter to express their support for Pagano. They were also public in their favorable response to owner Jim Irsay's decision to keep the head coach around.
Colts safety Mike Adams echoes the sentiment shared by many of his teammates, as he was in favor of the move. Now, he realizes, it's up to the players to prove Irsay right in making the decision. Adams, who is in Hawaii for his second straight Pro Bowl, appeared on ESPN today and talked about that very thing (per Colts.com's Heather Lloyd).
"We still managed to go 8-8 without our top guy, number 12," Adams said, of course referring to Andrew Luck (who missed nine games due to injury). "For us to go 8-8, that says a lot about coaching, not just players, coaches. On how they put us in a position to win the game. I think Irsay made a right decision in keeping him. Now, we've got to show him proof. He's here, now what? Now we've got to show him proof and go out and hopefully we'll be in the Super Bowl next year."
Adams is absolutely right. The decision to keep Pagano (and general manager Ryan Grigson) around was a risky one, as Irsay is taking a gamble that it will work out and that the coaching staff will be able to improve and get the Colts to the promised land. Adams realizes that the players got what they wanted in Pagano sticking around, so now it's time to go prove that it was the right decision.
He also has a point about 8-8 not being a bad year when considering the fact that they played over half of the season without Andrew Luck, as that's a fine record to have without your franchise quarterback. The problem was that it was ugly even when Luck was on the field, but the overall record wasn't bad. With that said, however, the Colts have much higher expectations than eight-win seasons, as they are thinking Super Bowl - and not just one. With Andrew Luck back in the mix next year, expectations will be high once again in Indianapolis. Now it's time for the Colts to prove their owner right in his decision to extend Pagano for four more seasons.