As ridiculous as it may seem, it appears Chuck Pagano enters the 2015 season on the hot seat – to the point where it’s Super Bowl or bust for the Indianapolis Colts.
That’s not Pagano’s doing or Andrew Luck’s doing. It’s Jim Irsay’s doing.
There’s no other way to look at it.
“That’s how he set it up,” CBSSports.com NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “This isn’t like something (where) you need to read tea leaves or you need to guess. There’s no other way to read this other than he’s unsure of this guy. With all the success they’ve had, to offer him basically a one-year deal at similar money to he’s making – and then you’re doing that knowing there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to say no and you don’t turn it into a full-blown negotiation? (By doing that), you basically just say, ‘Yeah, that coach and that quarterback, I’m not going to pay them anything for another year, but we’re all in and it’s Super Bowl or bust and this group’s going to win multiple Super Bowls, and maybe even back-to-back ones, and we have to win more than one with Andrew Luck, but yeah, I’m just going to put all that on hold for a year’ – it’s kind of disingenuous and, to me, a bizarre message. You can’t really send both those messages at the same time. If this is a group – and this is a group with with Super Bowl expectations and anything short of that is a failure – then they should be empowered as such.”
Aside from a hole or two on the offensive line and a little bit of uncertainty at running back, the Colts might have the best, most complete offense in the NFL – or at least the AFC. That’s what’s carried them to back-to-back-to-back 11-5 seasons and three playoffs wins over the last two years.
The defense, however, is a different story. That’s what cost the Colts in their 45-7 loss to New England in the AFC Championship last season.
Do the Colts have enough on that side of the ball to get to – and win – a Super Bowl?
“I don’t think so,” La Canfora said. “(Pagano) gets the hit for the defense because that’s his forte. That’s what he’s done going all the way back to the University of Miami, and he was so great with Baltimore. (But) I don’t think there are the horses there. They don’t have natural pass rushers. This year they’re going to hope a kid like Bjoern Werner finally comes on. Good luck. They bring in Trent Cole to try to buy a year or two. I don’t know how much is left in the tank. You’re praying and hoping that (Robert) Mathis comes back in the second half of the year and does something. I just don’t see a whole lot there. I like Vontae Davis a lot. We’ll see if Arthur Jones clicks (in his second year) and stabilizes that defensive front. But I don’t think the assets are there, frankly. I think Andrew Luck does cover up a lot of holes there – an awful lot of holes – on both sides of the ball.”