Nothing Personal, But It’s Time for Chuck Pagano to Go

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Chuck Pagano looks on prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It’s finally time for a much overdue coaching change for the Indianapolis Colts.

Following a 46-9 demolition of a loss by the Los Angeles Rams of all teams, the Colts once again fell in a regular season opener under head coach Chuck Pagano‘s leadership and now stand at 1-5 during his coaching tenure in season openers.

Not only were the Colts beaten, but they were blown out, which is something that has simply has occurred way too frequently under the ‘Pagano era’.

Specifically, the Colts lead the NFL in most blowout losses by 35+ points with 6 such abominations since 2012. For reference, the next closest team, the New York Jets, have only 3 such 35+ point blow out losses during that same span.

Too many times we’ve seen the Colts unprepared to start games, and too many times we’ve seen them simply get blown out by their opponents with games that aren’t even remotely competitive.

The theme used to be that the Colts would get blown out by the likes of opposing teams with only elite quarterbacks and high profile passing attacks such as Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, etc.

However, the Colts just made 2016 #1 overall pick Jared Goff look as good as he has during his entire career, as he completed 21 of 29 throws (72.4%) for 306 passing yards, a touchdown, no interceptions, and a sparkling passer rating of 117.9–all of which were career highs aside from completions and passing touchdowns. For reference, Goff had previously been 0-7 in career starts.

These aren’t the reigning Super Bowl Champion or Conference Champion caliber teams anymore that the Colts get blown out by, it was last year’s 4-12 Los Angeles Rams. An offense that ranked dead last in the league averaging 14.0 ppg last season and just put up 30 points on defensive minded Pagano’s team. Go figure.

It’s not just that the Colts come out flat either, as Pagano himself makes too many questionable in-game coaching decisions.

Just look at yesterday afternoon, when with 8:18 left in the first quarter, rookie running back Marlon Mack took a 21-yard reception down to near the Rams goal line, and where on replay, it looked like the ball may have crossed the plane of the end zone for the touchdown.

Did Pagano challenge?

No, instead he ran a hurry up offense along the 1-yard line–hoping to catch the Rams off-guard and proceeded to run Mack up the middle on two unsuccessful attempts, while ‘short-yardage specialist’, running back Robert Turbin sat on the sidelines–who led the Colts with 7 rushing touchdowns last season. The Colts then ran a pass play and were forced to settle for the field goal.

Not to be outdone, while fans saw that veteran starter Scott Tolzien was giving the Colts ‘next to nothing’ after one quarter–highlighted by a Trumaine Johnson ‘pick six’ with 11:10 in the first quarter, it took Pagano a little over 3 quarters (and another ‘pick six’) to finally make a quarterback change.

Tolzien’s backup, newly acquired Jacoby Brissett, threw a 50 yard completion to wide receiver Donte Moncrief on his first throw–who previously had no receptions, and led the Colts to their only touchdown scoring drive on the afternoon.

Listen, I don’t think Pagano is a bad guy by any means (and never root or take great satisfaction in anyone losing their jobs like some do). On the contrary, I think he’s a stand up individual, and the type of person that I would watch give a motivational speech locally in town to enrich my own life. He’s beaten cancer and is a ‘fighter’ in every sense of the word, and I’m sure there’s things that are much more meaningful to him in life than the game of football ever will be.

However, when the first thing any person says when asked about him as a coach is, “He’s a nice guy, but…”

It’s time for a coaching change.

Pagano is no dummy either, as I’m sure he can see that his time coaching the Colts is increasingly likely to run out soon. If not in the next few weeks–if things continue down this embarrassing path, certainly by season’s end.

New general manager Chris Ballard will eventually get to ‘pick his guy’–whether it be Kansas City Chiefs special teams coaching ace Dave Toub or another franchise pursuit of the always highly sought after Jon Gruden among other hot head coaching candidates.

In that regard, Pagano is the ‘good soldier’, the ‘bridge’, or ‘the martyr’ (whatever you want to call it) as the current head coach for a Colts team that’s roster is simply depleted of talent from poor personnel decisions of the previous front office regime. Short of a deep playoff run, which is nearly impossible with this non-contending roster, Pagano is presumably gone regardless of whether the Colts continue to suffer blowouts or not. He’s merely keeping the seat warm for the next guy.

However, don’t feel sorry for Pagano in that regard, as he’s the ‘cat who’s had 12 lives–maybe 13’ coaching the Colts, as he’s survived the past two offseasons when nobody reasonably thought he would–not even him.

There’s no question that the Colts are outmanned right now with key injuries to star quarterback Andrew Luck, as well as center Ryan Kelly, cornerback Vontae Davis, and safety Clayton Geathers.

However, that doesn’t mean the Colts have to be consistently out-coached:

Far too often to count have we seen the Colts unprepared, out game-planned, and with far too many questionable in-game decision making whether it relates to play-calling, personnel, or clock management.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Nothing personal against the guy, and I wish him well, but it’s time for Pagano to go.

About Luke Schultheis 232 Articles
Luke Schultheis is the Indianapolis Colts Editor for Indiana Sports Coverage. He has appeared on CNN to discuss Colts football and has diverse and extensive sports business experience, having worked with several renowned Indianapolis sports organizations including: USA Track & Field, Exclusive Sports Group, Indiana Sports Corporation (Super Bowl XLVI), Indianapolis Indians, Indiana Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the NCAA, and 500 Festival. His opinions are his own. Follow him on Twitter @LuckatLuke