The Pagano Era is upon us.
The move will be met with almost universal acclaim. Chuck Pagano is a fiery defensive minded coach who is sure to be popular with fans and media.
Pagano is a safe hire, and given the nightmare scenarios of Childress and Tressel, Colts fans will be almost universally content. Those who were unhappy with the Indy style of defense and the more reserved manner of Jim Caldwell and Tony Dungy will no doubt find much to love in Chuck Pagano.
He is a hire with upside, but there is much we don't know about him.
- We don't know how good a defensive strategist he is. Pagano did well with the Ravens, leading to a #3 ranking in scoring in the NFL. On the other hand, it was the 4th straight year the Ravens were 3rd in scoring with 3 different coordinators.
- Will Pagano be like other Ravens assistants who became head coaches? That list includes: Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Mike Nolan, Jack Del Rio, and Mike Singletary. Apparently, being an assistant with the Ravens is not a pass key to future NFL success.
- Let's assume that Pagano can coach and coordinate a defense at an elite level. We have very little evidence that it's true (and none that it's not, by the way), but I'm willing to take it on faith. We have absolutely no idea if he can do any of the other things a head coach has to do. For instance, can he:
- Organize, manage, and lead a staff
- Manage a game plan
- Master timeout strategy
- Handle media pressure
- Does he understand the dangers of punting and kicking on fourth and short
- Run a training camp
- Handle locker room conflict'
- Deal with winning
- Deal with losing
Chuck Pagano has never been a head coach. He has only been a coordinator three times (twice in college). He has no offensive experience at all.
He's a blank.
We know his players love him. We know the locker room loved Caldwell too.
Pagano is in roughly the same position as Steve Spagnuolo was a few years ago, only without the same resume. Spags didn't work out in Saint Louis, despite being given a top overall pick at quarterback.
Pagano will be a welcome change to many. I obviously hope that he's wildly successful. I'm not displeased by the hire. In fact, I mostly consider it positive. It does worry me that the Colts have yet to address the third most important issue the facing the franchise: who will mentor Andrew Luck? The truth be told the other two more important decisions (keeping/cutting Peyton and drafting Luck or anyone else) I consider to be nearly inevitable at this point.
The development of Luck is the key to the next 10 years of the Colts. Personally, I favored bringing in an innovative offensive mind who could push the envelope of strategy in the NFL. I worry that defensive minded coaches will tend to be risk averse. It's a stereo-type for sure. I have no idea if Pagano is prone to punting when the numbers say go for it. That's part of the problem...I have no idea WHAT to expect from him. I don't think anyone does. He has no track record as a head coach.
Now the Colts have young GM and an unproven (though not young) head coach. It's new day in Indianapolis, and the old guard has no place in it.
The Colts now have to find an offensive coordinator who can help Luck fulfill the potential he has already shown. Indy made a huge mistake hiring Jim Mora in 1998. It might have been one of Polian's worst mistakes. Years of Manning's ability was wasted as Mora ruined playoff games. Manning was so good that Mora managed to have limited success. Ultimately, however, it was clear that Mora was not the man to take Indy to the next level. What saved the Colts was that Tom Moore was present to mentor and develop Peyton, saving him from the dreaded system change that often causes regression in young signal callers.
The Colts need to pick the right offensive coordinator. If they get this hire right, it will give Pagano the rope he needs to grow into the job. If he turns out to be an inspired choice, excellent. If he turns out to be yet another Ravens assistant who built his reputation on the back of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, then at least the franchise quarterback won't have wasted his precious early years. Even if he's not the man to restore the Colts to full glory, with any luck he won't be a step in the wrong direction.
Some have suggested Hue Jackson is a front runner for OC, but I still hold out hope the Colts can land an outside the box thinker like Trestman or even Carmichael. Trestman makes $2 million a year in Canada, so that would be a hefty sum for Irsay to shell out to a coordinator, but it would certainly show a massive commitment to winning and to giving Luck the right framework for a successful career. Carmichael would be difficult (impossible?) to pry away from the Saints without surrendering a draft pick, but again, the right man is the right man.
There are more dark days ahead for Colts fans as the franchise still has a black cloud hanging over it. That storm is only just beginning to break.
Today, however, fans can celebrate.
The Colts have a new head coach.
And they could have done a lot worse.
I agree that an OC, especially one that is adaptive, is a priority in this league. I would also love to see Carmichael or Trestman, but it unfortunately won't happen. With most expecting to draft Luck, what about David Shaw? Or maybe even someone like Mike Sullivan?
Irsay and Manning talking to each other through the media is brutal. Watching this thing unwind is going to be a new low.
I think Irsay should cover Pagano's moving expenses, maybe send a Mayflower truck to Baltimore to help him move to Indy.
Maybe he will have the same luck that Tony Dungy had, similar background as a DB coach, moved to DC, then HC. He had some rough years and some good years in his first job in TB, never really did too well in the playoffs though. He eventually figured it out, and honestly this team will take a couple of years to grow under new management anyways, it will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Ok, this may seem to be very far fetched, and I'm just really hoping that it will happen, and I'm also surprised no one else has mentioned this, but why not let manning take on the OC position? Just wanted an opinion on how manning might fit into being a coordinator. I remember reading something that claimed manning wanted to eventually coach some day. Why not stay around for awhile in Indy?
@colts_1888 I think it would probably be hard for him right now, he wants to be out there so bad, I am not sure how that would work out.
@paulcareyjr yeah, it must be very frustrating to be in his position to not be able to play. ok, here's another question. how good of an OC would manning be? (question goes to all who want to comment)
@colts_1888 Not going to happen in a million billion years.
@Nate Dunlevy yeah, just hoping :P
@Nate Dunlevy Feel free to use it as your own. I just want it perpetuated so he is never know as anything but....
"This is Mike and Mike in the morning... we have Wormtongue Kravitz on the line."
@colts_1888@Nate Dunlevy "I don't know what kind of coach I would make. The Colts have let me call plays before and I have found that they always seem to work better when I am running them" Peyton Manning on being an Offensive Coordinator
One year during the final game of the regular season that was meaningless for the Colts, Peyton played his few plays to keep his streak alive and then retired to the bench and took over play calling duties for Jim Sorgi. Ever the perfectionist and after a play that did not go as planned, Peyton yells out in frustration, "what was he seeing out there?"
To which Coach Dungy replied, "we ask ourselves the same thing about you all the time."
Great Post Nate.
I am very curious about your perspective on the Clyde Christiansen situation. Why is he still here? What does it tell us about the Colts plans?
@mattshedd Hedging? Just in case Peyton fully recovers in 8 weeks, he'll have someone he trusts game planning for him?
@JasonLeeJason@mattshedd@naptown_ninja I have sources, but nothing they tell me is any different than what has been actively reported by many, many people. He's not healthy now (indisputable). There is absolutely no way to know when/if he will be (Polian said this just yesterday). He may never be able to play again. And the Colts have virtually no chance of finding out more before March 8 (Brandt said this today).
These are the facts, and they are not in dispute. Manning won't even dispute those.
What I hear privately jives exactly with what I've heard plenty of others say. I've been hearing this for months now, and have tried to gently steer expectations along those lines (as several have noted). It's only being actively reported this way in the last week or so.
@Nate Dunlevy@naptown_ninja "suddenly" as in you somehow know that he is not well on his way to coming back? I think if he were further away he would keep his mouth quieter. I am convinced that Peyton is close to ready, and I am sure he will play again. With the Colts? Not so sure, but the CC situation keeps me hopeful
@mattshedd I think it tells us nothing other than he's a great human being and the organization may still have a place for him.
Not sure if it's been pointed out already - and I don't really know why he left - but perhaps the best person to coach Luck into the league would be... Tom Moore?
@Ben Savage He retired. He is doing extremely small consulting jobs right now that he can do from home. I'm sure he has 0 desire to go back into the rigors of building up a QB full time.
@kasey_junk@Ben Savage Besides that obvious obstacle, I don´t think Tom Moore would want to work with Luck in this situation. If Luck is drafted by the Colts and it pushes Manning out of the door, it´s going to be a direct blow to the amazing offensive system Peyton and Tom Moore built. Add to that the fact that the personal loyalty between Moore and Manning is really strong, and there´s no chance in my opinion Moore will want in on this.
What I find ironic... is that this seems to be the perfect hire if Peyton Manning were your QB. An older guy, with unquestioned defensive credentials, that as long as he could take care of that side of the ball... with Peyton the offense would take care of itself and put less stress on someone with no Head Coaching experienc.e.
But since Peyton isn't coming back... I just wonder if this is the transition guy. An easy sell, as even in Dungy's glory years and the first two years of Caldwell, fans were still clamoring to see more emotion from the Head Coach. This guy will be fiery, he will probably be good in press conferences and fans will know he cares (because he will yell alot)... and he will also lose. A lot in his first year and probably his second.
I would venture to say that with all the decisions that have been made that have led the Colts to be where they are right now... the next decision of who will be the Offensive Coordinator will be by far the most important for the Colts long term future.
I don't think they picked Pagano to be a transition guy. And for Pete's sake, he's not young, but he's not THAT old -- he's 51. If he ends up being a good head coach, he could easily coach for another 15 years, so it's not like he's looking to retire at the end of his new contract.
@Neven Of course, I don't think a team ever picks a coach with the intention of him being a transition guy. And if Peyton was going to be the QB, I would actually be excited for this hire.
But since #12 will be calling signals next year and not #18, the Colts are inevitably going to have some growing pains. Which means losing.
I actually thought that Nate nailed it with his Spagnulo comparison. And 51 years old is old for a coach to be getting his first head coaching opportunity. And to be getting it from a team that will not be set up to win for at least a couple of years, it going to be tough for him in my opinion.
He may be a great coach and do a great job and just because the team does not have the talent to win immediately he may get the blame before he can reap the benefits of the seeds he sows. Two years from now he may be going the way of Spags and the Jeff Fisher of that time may be set up to get the benefits.
@DougEngland Isn't the answer obvious? The OC is Clyde Christianson. They have not fired him because the whole #1 pick/dissent by Manning situation is a perfect ruse to draw the biggest last minute hall for the #1 pick of all time.
...Oh I wish...
I've been waiting on this post. Man, having Carmichael would be nice. But your description of Trestman below sounds great too--an OC who can adapt to very different style and make them work? Adapting in the NFL, frankly, seems outside the norm. Procrustean is the norm...
I'm sorry but the black cloud has been lifted with Caldwell, Polians and other coaches leaving. The Colts can finally be more than a one man team. If Peyton comes back, the OC is irrelevant. If he does not the OC will be important. what makes Trestman an outside the box offensive mind? I feel very excited about the Colts.
@silentkman PEYTON IS NOT COMING BACK.
It's time to accept that.
Trestman was successful in the NFL with one style of offense, then went to Canada, and adapted to a whole different set of rules and crushed it there with an entirely different kind of offense.
I never said he was coming back. I said IF he comes back. The CFL has only eight teams and six make the playoffs. I remember trestman and i'm not really impress with him via wikipedia. The offense was good and the defense was bad. Sound familiar? The CFL is irrelevant.
@silentkman Also, one of the amazing things about the CFL is that the salary cap for each team is around $4.5 million. I like this because the guys playing in this league genuinely love to play football; being a CFLer is not about the money. This means that we don't have any Haynesworth's to deal with.
@silentkman As for coaches, there isn't a lot of movement to the NFL to the CFL because a good coach in the CFL is often well compensated and has a lot of security. The best typically stick around. I would also say there is a massive benefit in not being under constant fire by the US sports media. The biggest jump would have to be Marv Levy though from Montreal to the Bills, and I would say there is little debate as to the impact that move had on the NFL. Another fantastic coach, Cal Murphy, actually left the CFL after amazing success in Winnipeg to become a scout for the Colts during the Manning era. In a CFL to NCAA jump, after winning the Grey Cup with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Kent Austin left to be the head coach at Ole' Miss.
@silentkman I grew up on the CFL, so for me it is football! The field is bigger, 3 downs forces teams to throw to set up the run, teams only get one timeout per half (less late game stoppage), and the play clock is 20 seconds. Basically everything you loved about watching Peyton and the Colts in the no-huddle 2-minute drill is football CFL-style. A great defense in the CFL is that much more fascinating to watch because every rule in the book favours the offense. I only started watching the NFL because of Manning. I tried to get into it before he hit the league but the coverage I got in Canada was not the best, and the ground and pound style was boring as all heck (I didn't get to watch the Bills or Dolphins in the Kelly/Marino era). One day in 2000 I sat down and the Colts were on and Manning blew me away on a 80 something yard drive. I was hooked after that.
Ernest.JImm , thank you for the insight. Why do you like the CFL so much.? What about the defenses in the CFL? I tried to watch but I could not get into it. Who was the last Head Coach from the CFL to make the transition to the NFL? I thought it was more than eight teams at one point.
Watching their offense live from the upperdeck reminded me of watching Jackson's Bulls of the 90s run the triangle. The offense reacts to the defense seamlessly. It wasn't until this year when Montreal's QB started showing age in his arm that defenses were able to have an impact against his offense. Even with age catching up, the opposing team needed to score 52 points to beat Montreal in the playoffs (who like the Colts lost their entire secondary to injury over the season). In that game, Calvillo went 30 of 42 for 513 yards, 3TDs and 1 pick. Also, Montreal's backup stepped in several times over the last few years and performed very well. Trestman is the real deal. There is no doubt that he is a creative offensive thinker, he holds a league wide reputation as an excellent QB mentor (it is not a coincidence that Calvillo had his best years as a QB and added two titles to his resume under Trestman), and almost always manages the game to perfection. I'd love to see him in Indy. I would have actually been pretty pleased to see both him and Jim Popp come to Indy.
@Nate Dunlevy@silentkman As a Canadian, and a huge CFL fan, I feel I can speak to Trestman's abilities. For many years I've watched his offense come to town and spank my team time and time again. What makes his offense so good up here is that unlike other teams that exploit the amount of backfield motion our rules permit, Trestman's offenses tend to limit/simplify the backfield motion. Instead, he is a coach that recognizes the best abilities of his players and has developed an offensive system that utilizes their best talents after the snap. The route trees his receivers run are astounding, and have literally confused defenses up here for the better part of 4 years.
@silentkman CFL is not irrelevant. It shows he has the ability to adapt. It also shows he has experience calling the shots.
Good offense is the key to success. Defense is variable. It's not nearly as important as offense in today's NFL.
@Nate Dunlevy But Garcon wants Peyton back...
Only time will tell. As Nate stated, the right guy is the right guy. John Harbaugh had never coached anything but special teams before taking over in Baltimore. Mike Tomlin had very little experience and got the job in Pittsburg off the strenght of a killer interview. The point is that nobody knows who the special guys are until they show you that they're special. What we do know is that something like 25 of the last 30 SB winning coaches were 1st time Head Coaches. So you dont get anywhere hiring a retread. Its like with anything else in the NFL, to get a great one, you gotta be the one to discover him, cause once he proves it, it's to late.
@JasonLeeJason Mike Tanier has suggested that showing a strong ability as a special teams coach (and Mike Tomlin started his career coaching college special teams as well) actually is a really good thing for head coaches because as a ST, you work with the dregs of the roster, the nobodies, the very raw talent. You have to be really good at teaching them, communicating with them, and there's a lot of turnover so you have to be able to coach someone up right away often mid-season. He says it usually demonstrates a really good personality for bringing a locker room together, excellent communication skills that you will need to deal with the media, the FO, and the entire coaching staff, charisma, high attention to details and management, etc. All things that are really critical for being a head coach.
@flores_salicis@JasonLeeJason I guess it's a good thing that Pagano did special teams and 2ndary in Miami, where they set a record for blocked punts, then? Or it could be completely irrelevant, but still, kinda cool.
More telling is this interview with one of his former players on his coaching style: