Many thought Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was on his way out after his team’s rapid descent from Super Bowl contender to 8-8 disappointment. Many believed the team would ax general manager Ryan Grigson along with him.
Yet to great surprise, both received four-year contract extensions despite speculation that they didn’t get along.
Last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Grigson said those reports were blown out of proportion in the midst of an underachieving season, per Michael Silver of NFL.com:
I don’t think I’m a monster. I might not be going out for beers with the head coach every night, but I do like Chuck [Pagano], and we have a lot of fun working together. We bounce things off each other. We laugh, all the time. I just don't understand why people think I hate the guy, because that's just not reality.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR Sports reported the dysfunction stemmed from Grigson's unusual involvement in coaching decisions.
“Grigson is significantly more involved in the coaching area than [former general manager Bill] Polian ever was,” Kravitz wrote. “Sources tell me Grigson not only dictated who would and would not play, but undermined Pagano when he wanted to discipline certain players.”
In November, the team fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, and three days later, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star revealed the head coach was instructed to follow lineup decisions made by the front office.
The Colts were 3-5 at the time, and Pagano was seemingly on the hot seat. Andrew Luck was a game away from enduring a season-ending injury, and the once-hopeful Colts were on their way out of the playoff picture.
Grigson admitted, per Silver, the losses took a toll on everyone in the building, and the organization plans to take its performance in stride as it heads into the next season:
We feel like as an organization, from me to our quarterback to our head coach to everyone involved, we're going to use this and remember how tough it was -- because I don't like losing. You have your bad moments when you lose. I'm not a good loser. You can ask my mother. That's just kind of the competitor in us [that] comes out.
Lost in the celebration after Grigson's and Pagano’s extensions, however, is the question of whether the two understand the role each will play. Owner Jim Irsay said Pagano pushed for Grigson’s extension, which indicates there’s a mutual respect.
But if the power struggle persists, the Colts could have trouble steering their way back to the top of the AFC South.