Report: Colts coach Chuck Pagano to return next season

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been told by owner Jim Irsay that he will return next season, according to a report from the Sporting News' Alex Marvez.

Pagano just completed his fifth season in Indianapolis, and the team has gone 8–8 in each of the past two seasons.

There had been speculation about Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson's job security with the team since the season has ended because the team has missed the playoffs for two consecutive years.

Pagano, 56, has a 49–31 record with three playoff appearances during his time in Indianapolis.

Chuck Pagano hasn't found his defensive footing and Ryan Grigson has a record of shaky roster moves, but Colts owner Jim Irsay seems committed to continuity. Zumapress/Icon SMI

Jim Irsay appears committed to status quo with Chuck Pagano, Ryan Grigson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jim Irsay, in an un-Jim Irsay kind of way, has planted his feet in the sand and is evidently not budging.

The Indianapolis Colts' owner sat behind a table late into the hours of Jan. 4, 2016, and preached about having continuity with head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.

"I think it's important to be thoughtful and lean on continuity when you can, and again, Chuck has earned the opportunity going forward," Irsay said at the time. "Ryan also is contractually tied with Chuck going forward, and we're set."

That'll be the case if the status quo stays in place in 2017.

"Ryan has been speaking to Jim," Grigson's agent, Buddy Baker, told WFNI-1070 AM on Friday. "Ryan has been in his office doing what he did last year, doing what he did the year before: preparing for the draft, preparing for free agency and doing his job."

Grigson, like Pagano, is under contract for three more years, but there hasn't been a public confirmation from Irsay that he'll retain both of them. There hasn't been any indication that Irsay or anybody in the organization will be talking anytime soon.

Let's just assume Grigson and Pagano will remain joined at the hip for the 2017 season. That means the general manager with a checkered track record with roster moves and a head coach whose defensive reputation remains nonexistent will try to stop the franchise from descending after being on the brink of reaching the Super Bowl two years ago.

Irsay evidently is showing patience, and doesn't mind that his team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons and has shown an inability to win important games. He talked about the need for continuity and stability with Pagano and Grigson just days before their Week 1 game.

"The football gods, whatever you want to call it, the powers that be, created this correct synergy that said, 'OK, Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, they are going to be our guys going forward and there is no question about it,'" Irsay said in September.

But you have to wonder how much longer Irsay can stay patient if Grigson's offseason moves -- the Colts will have around $60 million in salary-cap space -- don't pan out next season and if Pagano can't lead his team to the top of the mediocre AFC South.

What happens if the Colts start 0-2 for the fourth straight season?

What happens if Pagano's defense finishes 30th in the NFL again?

What happens if the offensive line continues to give up a lot of hits (128, second-most in the NFL in 2016) on quarterback Andrew Luck?

What happens if the Colts waste another year of Luck's talent, the type that got him a $140 million contract last summer, by not making the playoffs?

Will Irsay still believe in maintaining continuity with Pagano and Grigson?

Reports: Colts to bring back Chuck Pagano for 2017

Per multiple reports, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has assured Chuck Pagano he will return as head coach in 2017.

According to a team official, the Colts are not planning a news conference at this point. Since Pagano is under contract, they are not required to. Sporting News' Alex Marvez first reported the news, citing sources.

The news comes four days after Pagano met with the media to wrap up the disappointing 2016 season, one in which his team finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year, something that hasn't happened for this franchise in nearly two decades. At that point, Pagano said he had yet to meet with Irsay regarding his future but had no reason to believe he wouldn't be back.

"That's the plan," Pagano said. “I just look at things and it’s always half full. I don’t have any reason to believe why I wouldn’t be (back).”

Irsay has long stressed continuity, defending general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano throughout the 2016 season.

“We compete against ourselves,” Irsay told USA Today in December, referring to the Peyton Manning era that set an NFL record for victories in a decade and claimed a world championship. “The Horseshoe has meant excellence on the field, and we expect to achieve (that) and expectations are high. And there’s no question about that, and we’re disappointed. But I move slowly, cautiously, prudently. I believe in continuity.”

A year ago on Black Monday, Irsay committed to Grigson and Pagano long-term, extending both through the 2019 season.

“This case organically came together,” he revealed months later. “It showed me that the football gods, whatever you want to call it, the powers that be, created this correct synergy that said, ‘OK, Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, they are going to be our guys going forward and there is no question about it.’”

A year later, and despite a second straight disappointing season, nothing has changed.

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