In a surprising turn of events, Chuck Pagano is returning as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
There have been serious rumblings about him possibly being fired after each of the last few seasons, but he’s still around. General manager Ryan Grigson was fired this offseason and even though the Colts were bringing in a new GM, they still stuck with Pagano as their head coach - at least for this year.
That was a move that was heavily criticized by fans, as Pagano does not have a very good reputation as a head coach whatsoever. But a recent ranking of head coaches actually puts him in the top half of the league.
NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison yesterday ranked the 32 head coaches, and he has Chuck Pagano 15th:
How the Colts got to eight wins in each of the last two years is anybody's guess. The defense ranked 30th and 26th -- otherwise known as Saints-esque -- during that time. Sure, Andrew Luck putting the team on his back has something to do with Indy staying afloat in the AFC South. But considering the franchise quarterback has been banged up, it's OK to spoon a heap of credit Pagano's way. YOU try coaching when your star quarterback is at less than 100 percent, you have no defense to lean on and your job security is scant.
Well, here’s what I’ll say: if Chuck Pagano really is the 15th-best head coach in the NFL, then there are A LOT of really bad coaches in the league. Fair enough?
Harrison’s analysis reveals the same debate that had gone on for years: who was more at fault, Pagano or Grigson? Harrison very much leans toward Grigson, since he’s not blaming Pagano whatsoever for the bad defense - which, to me, is strange considering Pagano is a defensive coach who was brought in to focus on the defense. Yeah, the talent level has been bad (that’s on Grigson), but it’s not like the Colts have put their players in the best position to succeed or maximized what talent they have had, either (that’s on Pagano). And yeah, his job security has been “scant,” but isn’t it possible that it’s because he’s not a very good coach and Jim Irsay isn’t sold on him? I will - and have - given Pagano credit for keeping the team together with Andrew Luck out in 2015, but what about the 8-8 season last year when the Colts had Luck for 15 games when the quarterback was playing at arguably the highest level of his career?
Pagano is 49-31 as the head coach of the Colts and has won two AFC South titles while making three playoff appearances, but his faults as a head coach have become clearer over the last few years (since there was no playoff appearance or division title to mask it). So once again, he’ll enter a crucial season: he’ll need to impress Irsay and new GM Chris Ballard, and the two will be looking for specific areas of improvement from Pagano more so than a certain number of wins. Irsay is confident that, without Grigson around, Pagano will be better than ever in 2017. If that happens, then it will be good news for the Colts. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s very likely that Pagano will be fired - which would also be good news for the Colts.
What do you think of Chuck Pagano being ranked as the 15th-best head coach in the NFL?
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