When Chuck Pagano was given an unexpected four year extension I believe something else happened that day as well. I believe that Coach Pagano turned a new leaf and made the decision to take everything more seriously than he had before when it comes to his job. Coach Pagano is a player’s coach and an all-around lovable guy, but that type of approach hasn’t gotten the Colts to the promised land and it barely saved his job. Chuck knows that going into the 2016 season he needs to not just say the words, but he needs to make sure that everyone is on board and not assume that they are.
Over the last four years (three years if you take away the 2012 season) Pagano has continued the winning tradition that we all know and love as Colts fans. If we just go off of the seasons where he was the sole head coach of this team he is 30-18. That’s still nothing to shake a stick at, that’s a pretty decent record for someone who had never been the head coach until he got to Indy. During that time he had three offensive coordinators (Bruce Arians, Pep Hamilton, and Rob Chudzinski) and the same defensive coordinator (Greg Manusky). Arians did an amazing job here and it helped land him in Arizona where he now has his team one game from the Super Bowl. Hamilton took over and it was a 50/50 feeling with him here in Indy as sometimes the team looked unstoppable and other they failed to much of anything. After Pep was let got, Chudzinski (Chud) stepped in and recently was retained in the position by Chuck Pagano. The only mainstay was defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and he, much like Pagano, did the best he could with what he had.
Where am I going with this you may be asking yourself? I’m trying to show that this time around Chuck is going to bring in the best possible guys that he can to be a part of his coaching staff. No more, “well he seems good” decisions. Every coach will serve their purpose or be shown the door. Chuck currently has three guys with head coaching experience on his staff, including himself. Hiring former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin to coach the offensive line and retaining Chud as the offensive coordinator brings in guys who have been where Chuck is and will work hard so he doesn’t suffer the same fate as they did. Philbin has a history of turning out some good offensive lineman and creating solidarity along the front. Chud has a great offensive mind and Chuck can trust him to run a solid game plan and not screw up too much.
The coaching hire that I think is the best of the bunch though is Chuck’s selection as the new defensive coordinator, Ted Monachino. I would like to preface this by saying that I do not think Manusky should have been fired, but I do believe he was collateral damage from Chuck getting his new contract. I have a feeling he was told if they give him the extension that Manusky has to go. Let’s get back to Monachino though. This is a guy that Chuck has history with in Baltimore. Chuck and Ted coached the whole defense in the days of the amazing Baltimore defenses starring Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed among others. These two were the coaches for all those men and they did a great job preparing them for the game on Sunday. I feel with this hire that Chuck is basically saying that he will trust Chud with the offensive side of things and I think it may be time for Luck to have more input on what plays are called so essentially there will be two coaches handling the offense. That will allow Chuck and Monachino to get back to what they are great at and that is coaching the defense. I’m not saying that Chuck won’t have his hands in on everything, but I feel that by Chuck bringing in all of these well-traveled coaches that he is going to put his job in their hands and if they can’t get the job done he will find someone who can. That’s taking control of your coaching staff and that was one thing that people, including me, complained about last season is that Chuck didn’t seem to get to put his own coaching staff together. It’s painfully obvious now that he has been given the green light on anyone he thinks was best for this team.
Chuck’s most recent hire in Brian Schottenhiemer as the new quarterbacks coach is a great move. Schotty, as I will call him during his tenure in Indy, is another fountain of football knowledge. His father was an amazing head coach for years in the NFL and Schotty has done well for himself as well. He has an impressive resume, but the only question I have is why he hasn’t been given a shot as a NFL head coach. Maybe it’s not a job he wants at this point in his career or maybe he is smart enough to know he isn’t ready just yet. We will all miss Clyde Christensen here in Indy as he has been here for such a long time, but we all wish him well on his new spot as the offensive coordinator in Miami. I’m actually pretty excited to see what Schotty can do with Luck as they move forward. Clyde did a great job getting Luck ready these past four seasons and now it’s time to see if Schotty can just let Luck do his thing and be there to coach him on certain situations that may arise or if he will try to turn Luck into something he isn’t. Only time will tell.
With all that wealth of football knowledge that will be at West 56th Street in the coming months I am hoping that this new coaching staff can turn things around. Philbin can put together a great offensive line as long as he is given the right pieces to do it and guys like Harrison, Holmes, and Thornton aren’t the right pieces. Monachino can put a unit on the field that is worth the price of admission if he is given the right pieces and guys like Greg Toler, Darius Butler and Daniel Adongo aren’t those pieces. It’s time that this puzzle get put together or we could see Jim Irsay finally plug a stick of dynamite into the cracks of this team and blow it sky high. When he did in 2012we saw that Pagano, Arians, and Manusky were able to put something special together and it needs to happen again this year.