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Jim Irsay’s plane was apparently in Houston last night

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This weekend, the two big storylines in the NFL are regarding the teams in the playoffs and the teams conducting interviews for potential head coaches and general managers. Currently, the Indianapolis Colts aren’t in either group, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding what - if anything - is going to happen in Indy.

There’s been a lot of speculation, and the height of that speculation is tracking flights. After all, that process rarely winds up giving a key clue to what a team or person is going to do. But it’s still interesting in this case to note that Jim Irsay’s plane was in Houston for several hours late yesterday.

So Jim Irsay’s plane was in Houston last night. Beyond that, though, we really don’t know anything. Was Irsay actually on the plane? Was he there on business? Did he just want to see what a playoff team looked like? There are plenty of reasons why Irsay - or at least his plane - might have been in Houston.

So why has this bit of information gotten Colts fans talking so much? Probably because of who else was in Houston yesterday. Jon Gruden was in town, broadcasting the wild card game between the Texans and the Raiders for ESPN. Gruden has been effusive with his praise for Andrew Luck, and last year it was reported that he would have listened “very earnestly” about the Colts job if Chuck Pagano was fired. There are people who think that Gruden would like to coach Andrew Luck, and with Chuck Pagano’s job status still not clear, could Irsay have been in Houston to talk with Gruden? Perhaps, but it’s impossible to know right now based on just the plane information. But fans have started connecting the dots, and with Jim Irsay likely looking for a big name candidate if he were to replace Pagano, he could find that in Gruden. In eleven years as a head coach with the Raiders and Buccaneers, Gruden went 95-81 (.540) and made six playoff appearances while winning a Super Bowl, but at the same time he hasn’t coached since 2008 and has a pretty nice job at ESPN.

Another reason Irsay - or someone with the Colts - could have been in Houston? Wade Phillips tweeted a few days ago that he was back in Houston. He’s one of the best defensive coaches in football and has led the dominant Denver Broncos defense in recent years, but his contract is expiring and he may very well go elsewhere. For a Colts defense that has struggled mightily, bringing in Phillips as the defensive coordinator would be a tremendous move.

Or, maybe there’s nothing to the visit. Maybe it wasn’t even Irsay at all but just his plane, or maybe it was for some reason completely unrelated to the coaching situation. But until Jim Irsay actually comes out and says something about the current situation in Indianapolis, speculation will continue to run rampant. And since Irsay’s plane was in Houston yesterday at a time that could be seen as suspiciously close to the end of the wild card game in the same city that Jon Gruden was broadcasting in, it’s led to some fans trying to connect the dots.