When Chuck Pagano was hired in 2012 to take over the Indianapolis Colts he was given an open book. Pagano was set to take over a new era in Indy. Gone were the likes of Peyton Manning and several other key players who had ruled over Indy the last decade plus.
Now Pagano was set to bring in his defensive coaching tendencies. And match them with the second coming of John Elway in Andrew Luck. Yes, Luck has major shoes to fill after Peyton left. But not a single person believed anyone could do what Manning did for this franchise.
Here we are though, five seasons later and the Colts are struggling to win in the AFC South each season. A division that has started quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, Bradon Weeden and Brock Osweiler.
If the Colts lose Sunday it will mark the first time Pagano has had a losing record (7-9) in his tenure here. But, the Colts are already out of the playoff race. For the first time in back-to-back seasons since 97-98.
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Pagano’s overall record currently stands at 48-31. Which is eerily similar to that of Bengal’s head coach Marvin Lewis (115-99). Lewis has been the head coach in Cincinnati since 2003, and his teams have defined the term “middle of the road” in that time.
Sure, Lewis has won the AFC North four times and been to the playoffs seven times, but that has translated into ZERO wins in the postseason. Even if Pagano has him beat in that category with three playoff wins, which seems like decades ago.
If Jim Irsay elects to keep Pagano for the 2017 season he should know what he is getting. A coach that players fight for, but a coach that consistently comes up short when it matters.
The one thing the Colts did well early one was dominate AFC South opponents. Before the Colts blowout road loss to the Jaguars in Week 14 last season, the Colts were 22-1 against division opponents. Since that time the Colts have gone 3-5. So the one thing Pagano excelled at has gone away.
And if you take away Pagano’s 23-6 division record, his overall record is a mediocre 26-24. His winning percentage of .520 is right with Lewis’ overall percentage at .534. At least Lewis has to compete in a tougher division in the AFC North. Which has produced three Super Bowl champions in that time-frame.
The Bengals have refused to part ways with the second longest tenured coach in the NFL because he simply gets them to the postseason. And for now it seems as though Jim Irsay is content on keeping Pagano.
Irsay will argue that keeping the same core around Luck and company helps continuity. Now if barely competing for a playoff spot year in and year out is what you want, then the Colts have found their guy. But for right now Pagano is nothing more than Marvin Lewis in blue and white.