For Colts fans, this season has arguably been one of the toughest to watch. With high expectations, the room for error was slim for a team that appeared ready to take the next step. With a disappointing season drawing to a close, many are wondering where the Colts go from here. Chuck Pagano’s contract is set to expire, with many expecting him to not return. Ryan Grigson is on contract for one more season but Jim Irsay will undoubtedly examine his status as well. But if the Colts hope to return to their winning ways next season, they’ll have to do the following:
Let Chuck Pagano Walk
Pagano came to Indianapolis with a defensive pedigree. His 3rd ranked defense in 2011 with Baltimore helped edify this. That same success has eluded him in Indianapolis. With a defense ranking in 20’s 3 different times and being ranked 29th this season, the writing is on the wall.
It isn’t just the defense however. The team as a whole has come out supremely flat against a number of teams during his tenure. Blowout losses to the Cowboys, Steelers and Patriots in 2014 come to mind as well as mind-boggling losses to the Cardinals and Rams the year prior. This season has only amplified this notion with not-so-close losses to the Steelers, Jaguars and Saints.
Pagano has also failed to beat New England in five meetings, including the postseason. For an organization that prides itself on being able to compete with its biggest rival, losing to the Patriots becomes an even bigger blemish. This season saw the matchup finally be a competitive one. But when one of the worst special teams play’s in NFL history happened, Pagano may have watched his chance to return to Indianapolis next season fade away.
Fire Ryan Grigson
A number of the Colts issues must be traced to Ryan Grigson as well. While his 2012 draft won him Executive of the Year, his subsequent drafts and free agent signings left much to be desired. 2013 first round pick Bjorn Werner has been on the inactive list 6 times this season. Grigson also traded away a first round pick for Trent Richardson. Former free agents Laron Landry, Ricky Jean Francois and Gosder Cherilus fizzled out along with a number of other players.
But Grigson’s biggest mishap lies in his inability to fix an offensive line that has been the team’s biggest positional weakness since his tenure began. He’s selected six different offensive linemen since 2012 but only one has proven to be a viable long-term option in Jack Mewhort. Many thought that Grigson was playing with fire in having a shoddy offensive line and he finally got burned this season with injuries to both Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck. Couple all of this with amid rumors that Grigson over steps his bounds with on-field personnel decisions and you have a GM-Head Coach feud that is ever more believable.
For Jim Irsay and the Colts, it’s time to push the reset button once again. Time will tell if it will work.