Chuck Pagano Hired by Indianapolis Colts: Are Colts Moving Past Peyton Manning?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJanuary 25, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (R) and defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (C) talk with the defense during training camp at M&T Bank Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts hired Chuck Pagano as head coach on Wednesday, according to Pagano takes over a Colts team that went 2-14 last season and lost its first 13 games. He may also be leading the Colts into a new era.

The Colts have been faced with the dilemma of whether to keep Peyton Manning. Manning, who is due a $28 million in March, is close to the end of his career. He had surgery on his neck last year, keeping him out for the 2011 season. Further, the nature of the surgery—a one-level neck surgery—had the potential to end his career.

Also, the possibility that Manning could return to being a starting quarterback in the NFL is questionable. Manning missed an entire season after playing 208 consecutive regular season games. He could fall off substantially coming back after missing time after playing so many games consecutively.

That's the nature of Iron Man Syndrome. Cal Ripken and Brett Favre fell off significantly after ending their long playing streaks. It's very difficult to sustain rhythm game after game after missing a long period of time. Also, it's difficult to stay fairly healthy after breaking that long playing streak.

Besides, Manning is 35 years old, far past his prime. Manning has sustained numerous hits in his carer. In 2010, Manning's passer rating was a human 91.9, eight points lower than the previous year.

Manning could be looking at a significantly lower rating if he plays in 2012.

Besides, the Colts could be looking at the Andrew Luck era at quarterback. Ever since the Colts lost Manning for the 2011 season, talk has swirled that the Colts will draft Luck. Luck would be a good bet to start for the Colts if they draft him.

To ensure the Colts can win with Luck under center, the Colts need good defense. That's where Pagano comes in. Pagano is a defensive coach. He spent the last season as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens after serving three years as their secondary coach. Pagano has coached such solid players as Ladarius Webb and Ed Reed in the Ravens secondary.

Perhaps Pagano can translate that success to the Colts. The Colts were No. 15 in pass defense and No. 31 in interceptions. No Colts player had more than two interceptions last season.

The Colts' No. 15 pass defense doesn't mean much since opponents rushed more against them than they passed.

Winning with Luck will take good defense. The Cincinnati Bengals backed rookie Andy Dalton with a No. 9 scoring defense.

Hopefully, Pagano can install a strong defensive philosophy in Indianapolis. He'll have a challenge with probable change at quarterback. A new era needs a strong defense, and Pagano will need to provide leadership in that area.