The environment surrounding the Indianapolis Colts has turned toxic and the cleanup should begin in the front office.
Chuck Pagano’s reputation as an NFL head coach isn’t exactly sparkling right now but his performance in this particular dysfunctional screenplay is clearly of the supporting variety, at least if the Indianapolis Star’s recent report on the acrimony in the Hoosier State is in any way accurate.
The newspaper, citing multiple players, claims that a host of team leaders with the Colts called a players-only meeting last week in hopes of convincing their teammates to ignore the distractions stemming from the unprofessional relationships between the coaching staff and the front office.
Although the report doesn’t take sides, it clearly points a finger at general manager Ryan Grigson, who is portrayed as a micro-managing, megalomaniac despite the fact he hired the coach he now wants to sterilize.
The players believe Pagano and his staff, which no longer includes jettisoned offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, have been ordered to follow certain lineup decisions, a ludicrous overreach by any general manager no matter the reputation.
Whether that’s going on or not is the smoking gun in this whole opus and for what it’s worth other NFL sources outside the Colts organization have told FanRagSports.com the same thing.
Common sense, though, forces me to admit that narrative has to be coming from the Pagano camp, which, according to the Star, has told its players their hands are tied when players offer certain suggestions. And, it’s at least plausible that Pagano is using Grigson’s reputation as a meddler in order to deflect issues from players he doesn’t want to deal with but the rank and file believe the coach’s side of the story.
Hamilton, who was replaced by former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, served as the scapegoat for now and because the Colts play in the dismal AFC South, a postseason bid, albeit a one-and-done one, is still a likely outcome.
But, for a team that entered the 2015 season believing it was a legitimate Super Bowl contender, that’s not going to be good enough for Pagano to save his job.
That’s the obvious part.
What needs to be answered is if Jim Irsay wants Grigson picking another coach because the first one he tabbed has evidently earned no trust despite three straight 11-win seasons, albeit one with Bruce Arians doing most of the heavy lifting due to Pagano’s battle with acute promyelocytic leukemia.
The answer to that should be just as conspicuous but by all accounts Irsay is the one who has given Grigson the green light to run the NFL’s version of a Totalitarian government.
If Grigson wants to make coaching decisions so badly to make sure his ironclad roster isn’t misused and Irsay loves the GM’s ideas so much maybe the fix is forcing the Colts GM to start a new career path as soon as possible and replace Pagano.
And who knows, someday maybe Grigson will even be lucky enough to have a boss who understands a coach needs room to do his job.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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