It appears we finally know the truth: there was, indeed, tension between Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano in 2015.
We don't know how deep this tension went, but we heard the numerous reports about how bad things had gotten at West 56th Street in Indianapolis. Jim Irsay heard it too, and that's why, before extending their contracts, he sat Grigson and Pagano down and had them address the tension and work through it.
"It was a question of making sure there was clear communication," Irsay told ESPN's Mike Wells on Tuesday. "If someone had a problem with something someone was doing, make sure you bring it up and clear the air immediately and don't just let it slide and simmer underneath you. Again, you like to have a little tension in your organization. You like to have two people with vision and they're going to fight for it. I really think it came together in an incredibly good way. I think all day Monday afternoon and early evening [on Jan. 4] was very important for those guys."
Irsay wanted whatever disagreements and tension that was there to be brought into the open and discussed, because he didn't want anything festering underneath the surface. When it comes to 'fight or flight,' Irsay said that Grigson is more fight but that Pagano is more flight, and he wanted to make sure that his general manager and head coach were communicating clearly and that they could co-exist moving forward.
An interesting portion of the interview includes Irsay's comments on Pagano, as the owner mentioned that the coach has to put football above emotion.
"Chuck is such a relationship guy and it's a strength of his," Irsay said. "But again, he can't let emotion, sentiment get in a way of winning in professional football. I've been real clear with Chuck and Ryan as well. You always try to continue to work on weaknesses any individual has."
Irsay went on to reaffirm that emotions can't sway your decisions when trying to win in the NFL and that it especially applies to Pagano. It seems that Pagano has earned Irsay's trust with some of the recent coaching moves (including firing Pep Hamilton mid-season and then the more recent changes), as they were tough on Pagano but moves he made nonetheless. Irsay knows what he's talking about in this area, as he made the toughest move of them all when he went against his emotions and cut Peyton Manning in 2012.
It's interesting to hear Jim Irsay talk more openly about what went into the long day of meetings on Monday, January 4, and what led to both Pagano and Grigson being given extensions. It appears that Irsay wanted the two to deal with their issues and open up clear lines of communication with each other so that no ill will or tension would be festering underneath the surface threatening to derail the team. That's exactly what needed to happen, and Irsay appears to have been satisfied enough with the meeting to extend both men. Let's just hope that ends up being the right football decision and not one of those emotional decisions that Irsay wants Pagano moving away from.