Colts shocker: Coach Chuck Pagano, GM Ryan Grigson will return to Indy
Chuck Pagano will be keeping his job.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that he was going to "fight his ass off" to keep his coaching job and apparently, that's exactly what he did on Monday. The Colts have announced that Pagano has agreed to a four-year extension to stay with the team.
The Colts will also be retaining general manager Ryan Grigson. The team didn't formally announce an extension for Grigson, but Jim Irsay did confirm that he got one during Monday night's press conference.
The Colts owner said that Grigson's future would be "contractually tied" to Pagano and both men are now signed through 2019.
Pagano's fate was up in the air all day on Monday. The Colts coach met with owner Jim Irsay for several hours and it appeared that Irsay wanted to sleep on things after the meeting because at around 5 p.m. ET, the Colts announced that there would be no decision made on Pagano's future.
The team obviously reversed course though because they made the announcement that Pagano had agreed to an extension at 9:40 p.m. ET. Pagano's four-year contract that he signed in January 2012 was set to expire at the end of the 2015 league year.
"I'm convinced that we have the right stuff going forward to win a world championship. It was always my hope that this was the direction we would head," Irsay said of keeping Pagano. "It was a long day of conversation and I came out of it really excited and energize."
If Pagano had to argue his case for staying to Irsay, he had a strong one. In four years with the Colts, Pagano has gone to the playoffs three times and won three AFC South titles. Even if you throw in this year's 8-8 record, Pagano is still 40-24 overall since 2012.
"The reality is that it was careful consideration given to what we've accomplished and where I feel we can go," Irsay said.
This season might not have been the Colts best, but you could argue that it was Pagano's best. Starting quarterback Andrew Luck only played in seven games with the Colts, but Indy still finished .500. The Colts reached 8-8 on the season by going 6-3 with a 40-year-old quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck) and a guy who was signed five days before making his first start of the season in Week 17 (Josh Freeman).
After the Colts beat the Titans in Week 17, Pagano said that he was proud of the Colts' 8-8 season. Pagano gave a speech after the win that even seemed to inspire Irsay. At the 1:21 point in the video below, you can see Irsay applauding everything that Pagano says.
Kind of feel like this post game speech is what convinced Irsay to keep Pagano: https://t.co/Jf6Iq2k667— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 5, 2016
From a player standpoint, the decision to keep Pagano makes sense. Most players wanted Pagano to stick around, including offensive lineman Khaled Holmes, who was one of the first players to tweet his excitement after Pagano's contract extension was announced.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson echoed that sentiment on Monday.
"I don't see any reason for change," Jackson said, via ESPN.com. "I think Chuck is the guy for this team to lead us to the Super Bowl. You look around the league, all the head coaches that have been around for years, there have been off years. If an off year is 8-8, some teams would give their right arm to go 8-8. I don't see a need for change."
Irsay didn't see a need for change either, which turned out to be great news for Pagano.
"Words can't describe how I feel right now," Pagano said. "It's a great, great day and I owe it all to Jim."
The decision to keep both Pagano AND Grigson is the interesting one because the two have had trouble co-existing in Indy.
Pagano and Grigson have been at odds almost all season. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported back in September that there's been friction between the two men almost all year.
Indy's struggles in 2015 only added to the tension between Pagano and Grigson. According to ESPN.com, the toxic relationship between the two men was "100 times worse" at the end of the season than it was earlier this season.
A lot of that friction stems from the fact that Pagano has no say over personnel and didn't even get to pick his own staff. When the Colts hired Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator, they did it because Grigson wanted him, not Pagano. Hamilton, who was hired in 2013, was fired by the Colts in November and replaced by Rob Chudzinski, the man Pagano originally wanted for the job.
It's possible that Irsay has agreed to give Pagano slightly more say in personnel matters, but that's still unknown at this time.
What we do know though is that both Pagano and Grigson will be in Indy next year and both men are excited about it.
"Chuck Pagano is a great man," Grigson said during Monday's press conference. "We've been through the ringer together, but we're still focused on one goal, winning a championship."
Pagano admitted that the two men have had their issues, but he also made it sound like they've buried the proverbial hatchet.
"Ryan and I are blessed to have an opportunity to continue this journey," Pagano said. "We agree to disagree, but at the end of the day, we end each meeting with a handshake and a hug."
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