Chuck Pagano is done with press conferences. The poking and prodding at his team and his team’s struggles has gotten on his last nerve, it’s obvious at this point. He doesn’t lash out at the media. We’ll never get any great “Playoffs?!” quote from him. But he’s fed up, no matter how many jokes he attempts to crack to reconcile with those in the room. Today’s target? The Pagano defense.
Vote of Confidence
During a break at the league owners meetings in Houston this week, Jim Irsay spoke with the media about his struggling team.
“I feel confident that we have the right group of leaders, of guys—the quarterback, head coach, general manager,” Irsay said. “I feel confident we have the pillars in place and through time, it will show.”
While the men in charge of the Colts organization continue to preach patience, the media room has begun to reflect the agitation and bewilderment of the fanbase. The fans want answers, answers Pagano seems unwilling to provide.
Even with simple, reasonable questions, Pagano was curt. When prodded about Dwayne Allen’s injury that has him ‘week-to-week’, Pagano was brief: “It’s an ankle.” “He has an ankle.” “Sprain.”
If you’re not following, the questions were an attempt to find out what is wrong with the oft-injured tight end. Instead, Pagano provided an anatomy lesson and didn’t offer ‘sprain’ until the questioner specifically asked, “Sprain?”
Is Pagano required to divulge all of the ins and outs of injuries? Of course not. Do his answers seem intentionally antagonistic? Oh yeah.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best line of questioning, which was clearly the salt in the gaping wound that is this defense, was when Pagano was asked what he felt like the hallmark of his defense was.
“A defense that stops the run,” Pagano said (classic Pagano), “is very, very aggressive and attacking. A defense that wreaks havoc and makes it very, very difficult to operate as an offense and dictates the tempo.”
So basically everything the current defense is not and has never been. Of course there were follow ups–asking why it has been a struggle to make those things happen. Pagano’s answer? “We are still sorting it out.”
But why, Chuck? It’s been five years. Isn’t it time you have it sorted out.
But that’s not the most baffling thing. It’s that the owner of the team listens to this and watches this team and still says “I have patience and nothing has changed.”
Awfully Crowded Bench
What really hasn’t changed is this Colts team’s propensity for being constantly injured.
Sixteen (16!) players either didn’t practice or were limited in practice on Wednesday. That’s 30% of the active 53 man roster for those of you playing at home. Of course, some of those names were only there for a rest day: Adams, Davis, Gore, Langford, and Mathis. But others are key contributors who are injured: Dwayne Allen (ankle), Henry Anderson (knee, but not the ACL knee), Darius Butler (calf, hamstring), Phillip Dorsett (foot, hamstring), TJ Green (knee), Zach Kerr (ankle), Jack Mewhort (tricep), and of course Donte Moncrief (shoulder). And there’s also Quan Bray who was put on IR.
Pagano can say “That’s how the league is, everybody has injuries” all he wants. But this is outrageous.
Oh, and that concern about the lack of depth behind the top three wide receivers that some had before the season started? It’s coming home to roost. Right now.
Andrew Luck could be throwing to TY Hilton (thankful for that), Chester Rogers, Devin Street, and Tevaun Smith. Two of those guys are probably still wearing tape on their helmets with their names written on them at practice.
“Yeah, there is a level of uncertainty, absolutely, with some of the guys,” Luck said in his press conference on Wednesday. He also mentioned how valuable the game reps with Rogers have been and he’s right. Rogers has been one of the few guys to step up since Moncrief went down.
Luck also mentioned that Smith was with the team all offseason and Street has been on the team a few weeks at this point. This all hopefully points to some semblance of chemistry. This also hopefully means Luck won’t be stuck with only two healthy wide receivers and two healthy tight ends at the end of a game again.
Those two healthy tight ends of course being Professional Tight End: Jack Doyle and his partner in crime Erik Swoope.
This isn’t exactly the dynamic playmaking offense that was envisioned for this team. Then again, neither is the healthy offense. But it is worth getting used to seeing a lot of names on the injury report. While Dorsett was given the day-to-day label from Pagano, Anderson, Maggit, and Allen were given week-to-week. So basically, in Pagano, that means they’ll be long term bench residents.
It’s getting very crowded at the injury inn.
-Dwayne Allen on kneeling at the end of the national anthem: “I was not protesting. I was praying. Whether I was protesting or not, it doesn’t give the right for others to use those words of hate against me.”
I don’t have anything to say. Just watch his video.
–IndyStar’s Jim Ayello: “According to NFL.com, since 2000 there have been 27 instances of a team firing its coach midseason. Those teams started the season a collective 72-173 (.294), while their replacements finished up 60-109 (.356). An improvement, sure, but one so minor it’s practically irrelevant.”
Many want #PagaNO to go. The faster they chuck Chuck, the better. But Ayello and Gregg Doyle (in a similar piece) make a solid case for just biting the bullet at this point. If it’s the belief that this teams problems can be fixed with a coaching change, then who gets brought in? Midseason. Any quality coaching candidates aren’t about to ditch their current jobs midseason to take the reigns of this floundering team. So you’re almost forced to promote from within. And considering the inability to coach players that Pagano’s entire staff has shown? Remind me, how many guys are coaching on this team who lost their jobs as head coaches? It’s tough to say, but this may get much worse before it gets any better. And we might just have to deal with it. For now.
-If you want something non-Colts related to distract you, read this excerpt from the Brett Favre biography, GUNSLINGER: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre by Jeff Pearlman, about the early years of Aaron Rodgers being on the Packers and the feud that developed between the QBs.
“When practice ended, Rodgers retreated to his locker. Tomlinson, the reporter, approached. “He was about to cry,” Tomlinson said. “He was devastated. It was pure humiliation, and that Favre did it made it 100 times worse.””
It’s a fascinating read into two of the biggest quarterbacking names in the NFL. And it’s nice to read about someone else’s turbulence instead of wallowing in the Colts’ struggles.