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The Colts Are Handling the Pagano Situation Terribly

With the Colts out of the playoffs and big firings looming, Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz explains why the Colts should fire General Manager Ryan Grigson first and not rush to make a decision on Pagano.

Kirby Lee -- USA Today

On Monday, Jim Irsay will be sitting down with head coach Chuck Pagano to discuss his future with the team. According to multiple reports from different insiders, Pagano is expected to be fired from the Colts. This would end a 4 year run that included 3 playoff appearances and 41 regular season wins. Should they be sitting down with Pagano so quickly? I don't think so.

Let me get this out there: the Colts should get rid of Ryan Grigson as quick as they can. Grigson has proven that he can make some great decisions and he can really hit the nail on the head on some draft picks. However, for every great move he's made, there has been just as many bad moves. The Trent Richardson trade, the Werner pick, the Dorsett pick, trading away Marcus Burley for nothing... the list goes on and on. Despite the fact that he nailed the 2012 draft class, made some quality draft choices in Jack Mewhort, Henry Anderson and Donte Moncrief, as well as the trade for Vontae Davis, the bad seems to shadow the good.

One could argue that every general manager has their highs and lows, and that's a fair thing to say. Grigson cannot be fired just based on his current drafting and trading record. If we were evaluating Grigson based on his record, I'd be inclined to keep him around for another season. As we've come to find out, he's done a lot more than make draft picks and trades. He's established a bad culture in the Colts locker room and headquarters. Despite the obvious tension with Chuck Pagano, Grigson has done a number of unacceptable things. According to Bob Kravitz, who wrote an article thanks to insider information, Grigson has done the following things:

  • Insisted on continuing to play Trent Richardson despite the poor play, to prove that the trade he made was a good one. (That trade is one of the worst in the last 20 years)
  • He would overrule Pagano on issues of player discipline, thus restricting Pagano's control of many issues in the locker rom.
  • He hired Pep Hamilton and forced him onto Chuck Pagano. He also made Hamilton report to Grigson and not Pagano.

Those are just a few of the things that were reported. It's clear he never gave Pagano a real shot. Grigson established this bad culture that put a damper on the Colts season. Tension behind closed doors is never good for business and 99.9% of the time, it has an ugly ending. Grigson is the one who has done the most damage to the team. Grigson is greatly responsible for the tension in the locker room. For those reasons, he has to go.

Not only does he have to go, he should be the one to go first. Why keep around Grigson for the coaching search, if he won't be around next season. If the Colts are going to fire Grigson, it should be now. It doesn't make sense to fire Pagano before Grigson and allow Grigson to have a say in the coaching search, especially if Grigson won't be around.

The Colts should not want to fire Pagano so quickly. If the Colts were to fire Grigson first, they should hire a new general manager and allow him to sit down with Pagano. That new general manager should then discuss with Irsay what they want to do. They shouldn't allow Grigson to have a say in Pagano's fate, because Grigson will want Pagano out of there. His bias against Pagano will affect Irsay's decision. It doesn't matter if Pagano deserves to be fired or not, Irsay should not be getting any opinion from Grigson.

The Detroit Lions have cleaned their front office and dumped just about everyone except Jim Caldwell. Instead of firing him on Black Monday, they are going to find a new general manager and allow him to make the decision on Caldwell. That's the logical move here! The Colts need to do the same with Pagano!

Patience is key in these situations. When the Colts make their decision, they should be content with it and it should be made after careful deliberation with the important people that will be with the club long-term.

Here's the reality of searching for a head coach: if the incoming head coach is not better than the outgoing head coach, then you've failed the search. If you fire your coach, the guy you bring in must be a better fit and an upgrade for the team. So, if you're going to fire Chuck Pagano, you must first evaluate the head coaching market and see who the viable candidates are. In my opinion, if you were to replace Pagano, you would need to go after a big head coaching candidate, like Sean Payton or at the very least Hue Jackson. Someone like Adam Gase or Teryl Austin, who have just a few seasons of experience as assistant coaches will not cut it. You're trying to get the Colts to the next level, so you have to find a coach who can do that.

Think of this team right now like the early 2001 Bucs. Tony Dungy had gotten them as far as he could, but it wasn't the Super Bowl. The Bucs made a huge trade for Jon Gruden, who was the guy they needed to win the Super Bowl. The Colts are in this situation now. Who can take the Colts to the next level?

If you ask me I think the Colts should do this: they should fire Ryan Grigson, due in large part to the unacceptable things he has done behind closed doors. This firing should happen within the next few days. From there, you begin a general manager search. Hopefully, by the middle of January, a general manager is found. From there, you have the general manager sit down with Chuck Pagano. The general manager should then meet with Irsay (as well as other important confidants) and discuss Pagano's future.

Firing Pagano too quickly could screw the team. What if Sean Payton stays in New Orleans (or goes somewhere else), and Hue Jackson picks another team. What you have to realize is that Pagano is not under contract anymore, he is a free agent coach. So, the Colts can interview all the candidates they want, including Pagano. If you take your time on this, you can allow yourself to weight all the options properly. The first coaches usually get hired 2 weeks after the season is over (Rex Ryan was the first coach hired last season and he was hired on January 12th, 2 weeks after Week 17). So the Colts can fire Grigson, find a new general manager and still have most, if not all the of the potential candidates still on the market.

Based on all the reports, it seems as if Irsay is going to fire Pagano today, which would be a big shame. I do believe that ultimately Pagano should be fired, but I feel the new general manager should be the one to pull the trigger with Irsay. A fresh, outside perspective is important in these situations.

Hopefully that classic Pagano speech (which was one of the best post-game speeches I've ever heard) bought him some time.