The Indianapolis Colts, reeling from loss at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, had fans and reporters questioning what they just saw and what is next for the team after such high expectations were placed on them both internally and externally.
In fact, owner Jim Irsay came out and talked with the media after the game about an issue that has been brewing in the media for awhile concerning the speculation of the relationship between Coach Chuck Pagano and the G.M. Ryan Grigson. Irsay told reporters (Mike Wells of ESPN) after the game:
“That can’t be farther from the truth” concerning the supposed rift. “That report is completely false, I can guarantee you that-completely false” Irsay reiterated, “There is not one shred of truth to it all. Honestly these guys have a great relationship”.
Earlier in the day, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports laid out the case that the Grigson and Pagano relationship had deteriorated to the point that he was comparing the outcome to the recent situation between the 49ers’s G.M. Jed York and former coach Jim Harbaugh. The implication is the outcome seems unlikely for a scenario where both stay on with the team. La Canfora and Wells have indicated that Pagano had little say in hiring of staff and input of players as he was apparently not in favor of the release of Chapman, the hiring of Pep Hamilton, or the lack of emphasis placed on the defensive side of the ball and the draft.
It seems that La Canfora even indicated that it seem highly unlikely that even if things somehow come together for the team, Pagano feels like he might find better options out there after the season.
“Those closet to Pagano view it as an eventuality-he’s gone; if the team does not reach or win the Super Bowl, he’s out of a contract and the likeliest fall guy. And if he does win it all, Pagano’s outside leverage with other teams will never be higher. It’s also nearly impossible for them to imagine a scenario in which he and Grigson are still both together even if the coach did opt to stay in Indianapolis on a lucrative new deal.”
Those are strong words and by everything we’ve seen from this offseason it seems rather plausible, even likely. There is still time for a reconciliation if there is an issue, but after the performance that took the field against the Bills, maybe something needs to happen. The team looked lost, out of sync, and unprepared. All of which may be a result of the issues that Irsay claims aren’t true. As mentioned earlier, look no further than the 49ers last season. San Francisco had a talented team, but that all imploded from inside politics and discord between the coach and general manager. Irsay’s response to the story only seems to have stoked the coals further.
I want to believe Irsay’s denial of the discord, however, the more I’ve read or heard the more it seems that something isn’t quite right within the walls of Lucas Oil Stadium. I wondered previously if the issue came down to respect or lack thereof or if it was maybe just a big misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it appears that this relationship may be beyond repair or if you you were to believe Irsay’s strong denial than the whole thing seems much ado about nothing. There is also a third option that exists. Maybe the relationship isn’t perfect, but both parties could continue with the status quo and find ways to make it work. That seems a little hard to believe and the option presented by La Canfora seems very credible. I’ve often wondered if Irsay might try to make a power play of landing Jim Harbaugh away from college football, but that is only speculation on my part. I’ve been a fan of Chuck Pagano (except a few eggs he’s laid as a coach) hoping he would get a full set of weapons on defense instead of patch-worked units that he currently has, but it seems we might be looking at a high stakes game of chicken and those rarely end well…at least for one party.