Chuck Pagano will be the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for the 2017 season.
That’s what owner Jim Irsay said last weekend, and that’s what new general manager Chris Ballard confirmed today. Pagano will be back, and then he’ll be re-evaluated after the season.
“There was no other options, there was Chuck Pagano,” Ballard said today when asked what his head coach options were. “Chuck Pagano is a good football coach in the National Football League. Three 11-5 seasons, went to the AFC Championship game, had two 8-8s back-to-back but he’s won 49 games. We need to keep our eye on how hard it is to win in this league. It is hard to win. And he’s won 49 games in the National Football League. No, it was Chuck Pagano and his staff, and we’re rolling.”
Last week, Irsay mentioned several times that Pagano “is our coach for 2017,” adding that he hoped Pagano can be their coach for years to come but that the new GM would come in and evaluate things. Ever since that point it seemed most likely that Pagano would be back, but there was still some question depending on how the GM search process went. Obviously, I’m sure Ballard would love to choose his own coach, but he’ll be sticking with Pagano for this year.
Pagano himself was in attendance for the press conference, and Ballard understands that the relationship between coach and general manager is very important. “It’s essential, he said. “So I just left a place where John Dorsey and Andy Reid are tied at the hip and they make decisions together. Me and Chuck will make decisions together for the best interests of the Indianapolis Colts.”
Colts fans surely won’t be too thrilled about the news, and for understandable reasons: Pagano is not a good coach, nor is this the ideal situation for a general manager. In many ways, it looks as if it will set the Colts back a year in keeping a guy who they might just get rid of anyway next year. Jim Irsay, however, thinks that Pagano will be better than ever next season. “He is fired up for 2017,” Irsay said last week. “He understands what we have to do. I really believe he will be the best coach he has ever been going into this year, I really do.”
Hopefully for the Colts that turns out to be the case, but either way, Chris Ballard will evaluate Pagano this season before making a decision. The bottom line: Chuck Pagano will be a lame duck coach with a ton of pressure to perform once again this upcoming season. But for now, he’s got the support of the new GM.