Tell me if you’ve heard this before...
The Colts are tied or have the lead entering halftime. They make no noticeable halftime adjustments and squander their lead and either lose or almost lose the game.
In a league where anything can and will happen, the Colts get out-coached after halftime about as consistently as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. In a league full of inconsistencies and outliers, Chuck Pagano is steadfast in his refusal to make noticeable halftime adjustments.
At this point, we all know Chuck Pagano is the lamest of lame duck coaches. He has proven time and again he is inept at leading an NFL team. He does not understand game management. He does not know how to make adequate in-game adjustments. Pagano has a rudimentary philosophy that opponents exploit. Sadly, it really is that simple.
However, Pagano’s treatment of rookies RB Marlon Mack and CB Quincy Wilson this past weekend may have sealed his fate, if it was not already set in stone.
GM Chris Ballard and the Colts franchise have high hopes for Quincy Wilson. Wilson has shown great promise in the games he had played thus far. Yet for some reason, Pagano made Wilson a healthy scratch for the second week in a row because he has not developed into a consistent special teams player. Umm... what?!?
Wilson needs time to develop, yes. Every rookie does. The best way for them to develop is for them to play. In a way, Pagano is undercutting himself by saying Wilson has not developed. As we all know, Ballard and owner Jim Irsay stated the win/loss record may not matter in determining if Pagano keeps his job but the development of players absolutely will. By admitting Wilson has not developed, is Pagano not admitting fault and effectively sealing his fate by not developing players?
Regarding Mack, Pagano benching him was ridiculous. Mack is one of the most explosive weapons the Colts running game has had in recent memory and in this game had a 20+ yard run, his fourth of the season on only 27 carries. Rumor has it Mack was benched for missing a blocking assignment that led to Brissett getting hit. Mack was not seen again until Robert Turbin suffered a horrific elbow injury.
Why did Pagano bench their explosive, young play-making RB for the majority of the game rather than try to teach him and allow him to develop by learning from his mistakes? A quality head coach would have tried to make it a learning experience rather than treat Mack like a child by making him sit in time out.
Why demoralize the young core of your future team by pulling that kind of stunt? Why not teach them and allow them to develop? How is that effective leadership?
I know what you are thinking, ugh... another article telling us Pagano should be fired yesterday... grrrrreat. Yeah, yeah, we get it.
Here’s the twist. As a fan, it pains me to say this but I do not think the Colts should fire Pagano right now.
What benefit does firing Pagano now provide other than satisfying the ire of fans? They promote an interim head coach and the team does what? Probably the same thing? Maybe it motivates the team and they win a few more games but still end up missing the playoffs.
That may be worse than if they kept Pagano because the team would lose valuable draft stock.
While this team is far more talented than in years past, they do not have Super Bowl potential. In order to accumulate those kinds of players, they need top-level draft talent. As of right now, the Colts would be selecting 4th overall in the 2018 Draft. Anywhere in the top 10 puts them in position to grab a top pass rusher. If they end up higher than 4th, they could realistically trade back with a QB needy team to accumulate more top tier picks, which I support wholeheartedly as a member of #TeamTradeBack.
This hearkens back to an article I wrote earlier in the season regarding the philosophy of Irsay. Is Irsay willing to lose in the short-term to win long-term? It is a very Machiavellian concept for running the franchise.
All of Pagano’s shortcomings are magnified by the absence of Andrew Luck. Let’s be honest, with a healthy Luck under center, the Colts are at least 4-2 right now and sitting atop the AFC South. Maybe Pagano is on the hot seat, maybe not? It is also worth mentioning Irsay does not fire head coaches mid-season, regardless of how poorly that particular season is going.
To add insult to injury, no pun intended, Luck recently suffered a setback in his rehab requiring a Cortisone shot to reduce inflammation in his surgically repaired shoulder. This means he will miss even more time. Without Luck to save him, Pagano will keep sinking this ship and if multiple championships are the goal, why make a coaching change?
I still believe Irsay and Ballard are giving Pagano the opportunity to coach himself out of a job. At this point, he has. We all know it. The players. The fans. The organization. Pagano. We all know it.
However, firing Pagano mid-season would be a detriment to the franchise long term. My heart is screaming to cut ties with Pagano, move on and try to win this year. As painful as it is to say as a true fan of this franchise, logic dictates Pagano should finish the season as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.