The Indianapolis Colts have signed head coach Chuck Pagano to a contract extension, the team announced this evening. Owner Jim Irsay confirmed that it is a four-year extension, which gives Pagano quite a bit of job security.
The move comes as a shock to many involved, as it was not one that anyone saw coming. All season, it seemed as if Pagano was on his way out, but he met with Jim Irsay for several hours today and apparently the two sides decided to move forward in their pursuit of a Super Bowl together. One thing is certain: the players will absolutely love this move. And I mean, they will LOVE it. They have been very strong in their support of Pagano, and the message must have gotten through to Jim Irsay.
This is, to be honest, an absolutely stunning turn of events for the Indianapolis Colts. And, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, general manager Ryan Grigson (who has one year left on his contract) will return as well - making for a very interesting discussion on how the dynamic between the two will progress moving forward. Is Irsay going to reign in Grigson and confine his role more? That's the only way I could possibly see it working out with the two staying, but we'll see.
Pagano was hired in 2012 after the Colts blew things up and moved on from the Peyton Manning era, brought in as the Colts' next head coach after serving as the Ravens' defensive coordinator. Pagano wanted to "build the monster" in Indianapolis and over the course of the next four seasons would have a lot of success. Pagano compiled a 41-23 record (.641) in the regular season with three 11 win seasons, three playoff berths, two AFC South titles, a 3-3 playoff record, and an AFC Championship game berth. Even this year, when the Colts finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs, the Colts managed a .500 record despite playing without Andrew Luck for nine games. Pagano is very much loved by his players and a tremendous guy, but his coaching has been questionable.
Pagano, of course, had an incredibly memorable first season. Three games into the 2012 season, the Colts had an early bye week, and during the bye Pagano went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with leukemia and would miss the next 12 games, during which Bruce Arians led Indy to a 9-3 record and to a playoff berth. Pagano returned in week to a roaring ovation from the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium as the Colts beat the Texans in Pagano's return. The Colts massively overachieved in 2012 and far exceeded everyone's expectations. Over the next two seasons, the Colts again pulled out 11-5 records but went one step further each season. In 2013, they mounted a massive comeback and beat the Chiefs in the wild card round of the playoffs. In 2014, they defeated the Bengals and the Broncos in consecutive weeks to make the AFC Championship game.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love this job," Pagano said on Sunday night after the Colts' 30-24 victory over the Titans. "I love Indianapolis. I love this community. I love the fans. I think back to 2012, they didn't even know me and the way they embraced me and my family and helped me through that journey, that's Hoosier hospitality at its finest. This is a great place and me and my wife are very grateful and we've had a great four years here and we're going to have a great time this afternoon and tonight and then when tomorrow comes we'll deal with tomorrow. But we're going to enjoy this win right now."
A week ago, Chuck Pagano said that, "I will fight my ass off to be the coach here," and it seems like it worked. It's a stunning turn of events, and we'll likely find out more shortly, as the Colts will hold a press conference at 10:30 p.m. tonight, so stay tuned.