Pagano tough enough to tackle Colts’ project
Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 7:01 pm
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts owner Jim Irsay expects Chuck Pagano to bring more than tough talk to Indianapolis.
He wants results.
A day after hiring Pagano as his new coach, Irsay introduced the former Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator as the man asked to rebuild the franchise.
“I really believe Chuck is bringing a toughness, the leadership we need at this point for the franchise,” Irsay said.
The 51-year-old Pagano said the hiring had been a “whirlwind,” since the Ravens lost only a few days ago in the AFC championship game.
“Words can’t describe the emotions that I’m going through right now and the feelings,” he said. “Coming off probably the most devastating loss that I’ve ever been a part of in the AFC championship game and to go in that locker room and see those faces and we all know how hard it is to get to that stage and to see the tears. It’s an all-time low, and the last thing I ever expected came across my table and now I sit here at an all-time high.”
Clearly, Pagano’s job won’t be easy.
The first-time head coach will be working with a first-time general manager, Ryan Grigson, and the next big move will be deciding what to do with four-time league MVP Peyton Manning, who missed the entire season after having his latest neck surgery in September. The Colts must play Manning $28 million by March 8 or risk losing him as an unrestricted free agent.
In an interview earlier this week, Manning explained that the biggest overhaul of his career had created an uncomfortable environment at team headquarters — and that he had not yet spoken with Irsay about his future.
It is one of many questions the Colts face in a tumultuous offseason that has already claimed the jobs of Bill and Chris Polian, Jim Caldwell and most of Caldwell’s coaching staff.
Indy landed the No. 1 draft pick by nose-diving to a 2-14 record last season, its worst record in two decades. Most expect the pick to be used on the team’s quarterback of the future, presumably Stanford’s Andrew Luck. There have been concerns about whether Manning and Luck could co-exist on the same team next season.
Fans have even more immediate questions.
They want to know if Pagano, who ran a 3-4 defense in Baltimore, will make the switch in Indianapolis.
“I think he’s a defensive-minded coach with fire and passion,” said John Pagano, the Chargers’ defensive coordinator and brother of Indy’s new coach. “He’s going to bring a different energy to the city of Indianapolis. Me being there before, it was kind of the same situation when coach (Jim) Mora came in there. It’s almost the same situation flipped 11 years ago. We had the opportunity to draft No. 1 where we took Peyton Manning. It’s very similar.”
Pagano spent three years as the Ravens’ secondary coach before replacing Greg Mattison as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator a year ago. The Ravens ranked third in total defense and allowed the third-fewest points in the NFL last season, advancing to Sunday’s conference championship game, where they lost to New England.
Published in The Messenger 1.27.12