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Chuck Pagano on the 2017 Colts: “I think there’s something special going on here”

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Minicamp Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are in a rebuild. Chris Ballard seems to know it, and even Jim Irsay seems to have reluctantly embraced it. Nevertheless, Chuck Pagano still has high hopes for this team in 2017.

"I think we can be a good football team," Pagano said at the conclusion of last week’s mandatory mini-camp, according to the Anderson Herald-Bulletin’s George Bremer. "I think there's something special going on here. We've lost some good players, and every year is different. Every roster's different, and there's always a bunch of turnover. But we've got great continuity scheme-wise and great continuity staff-wise. And I think we've got great football character in the locker room. New leaders have emerged. So I think the chemistry's good."

Of course, this is the time of year where optimism reigns supreme - it’s what makes training camp so great. Every team in the NFL has high hopes and expectations in camp, but once the regular season hits some of those hopes simply crumble. Right now, though, it’s standard practice to hear coaches and players and anyone else connected to the team expressing confidence in the work they have done.

Pagano seems to have been impressed by what the Colts have done this offseason and thinks that the continuity and chemistry in the locker room is pretty strong. That’s essential - it’s hard to have a good football team when guys inside the locker room can’t get along - but talent is also essential, and that’s where the questions about the Colts primarily lie.

The Colts have attempted to add as much talent as they could in just one offseason, bringing in a number of new defensive players - and likely a number of new defensive starters - such as Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Johnathan Hankins. Furthermore, they spent six of their eight draft picks on defensive players, including their first three picks of Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson, and Tarell Basham. But those guys will all need time to get used to the system, and they’ll all need to really step up if this defense is going to see improvement.

The offensive side of the football isn’t as much of a concern, but the team will be banking on improvement from Le’Raven Clark and Joe Haeg up front, some of the depth tight ends to step up, and the running back situation to be figured out, among other things (like the health of a certain quarterback). And even special teams is no lock this year with a new punter in the mix, whether that be Jeff Locke or Rigoberto Sanchez.

My point is this: let’s not pretend like the Colts are fixed yet. Pagano has optimism, and I think to some degree it’s warranted: as we’ve talked about repeatedly, a return to the playoffs for the Colts this year is certainly within the realm of possibility given the circumstances. But even if that happens, understand that the Colts are in a rebuild. I think Pagano’s comment was mainly referring to the work he’s seen of these players coming together both on the field and in the locker room, however, so at least that’s encouraging.