Colts move on from head coach Pagano

Jan 2, 2018 - 12:48 AM INDIANAPOLIS -- It didn't take long for Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard to make the call concerning the future of head coach Chuck Pagano.

About an hour after the conclusion of Sunday's 22-13 season-finale win over Houston, the decision was made official -- the Colts and Pagano were parting ways.

During his postgame press conference, Pagano said that he hadn't heard anything from either Irsay or Ballard and was still hoping for the best. But minutes after that press conference had ended, the team's leadership met with Pagano and his wife in an adjoining room.

The result of that meeting went about as expected. It had been rumored for the last month of the season that a change was in the offing.

Irsay had presented Pagano with the game ball in the locker room in an emotional ceremony immediately after the win over the Texans. Not long after that, however, the head coach's six-year tenure with the team was over.

"Chuck Pagano provided Colts fans with many exciting wins and memories as head coach of the Colts," the team owner said in a prepared statement after Sunday's game. "We are thankful for Chuck's contributions to our franchise and community and we wish him, (wife) Tina, and the entire Pagano family nothing but the best moving forward."

A day later Irsay reiterated and expanded on his comments.

"It was a difficult, emotional conversation that we had (with Pagano)," the team owner said Monday. "Chuck was first class. We will treasure all the memories and wins that we had together."

With Pagano out of the Indianapolis coaching picture, attention will now turn to possible replacements.

Early candidates figure to be Kansas City special teams coach Dave Toub, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Irsay added that Ballard will lead the search and will do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting potential head coaching candidates.

"The general manager is the head of all football operations. He is in charge of leading the search, bringing in candidates, eventually bringing over best candidates and making his recommendation," the team owner said.

The general manager said he wants the right fit for the Colts.

"Previous head coaching experience is not a requirement. We're going to be about teaching and developing players," Ballard said Monday, adding that he will take a look at college head coaches.

"We're going to take our time. We want a partner. The head coach-general manager relationship is one of the most important things in the success of this franchise."

He is also looking for a head coach who wants to coach the entire team and not just to work with quarterback Andrew Luck.

"If a candidate has pause (about coming to the Colts due to concern about Luck's shoulder rehab), he's not the right fit," Ballard said.

"I want somebody who wants to come to the Indianapolis Colts. I don't want somebody who's just coming here for Andrew Luck."

--Former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano finished his coaching tenure with a 56-46 record. He finished with a 6-0 record in regular-season finales after Sunday's home-field victory over Houston.

Pagano had referred to the season finale with Houston as the "last rodeo" when it came to the end of the season. As it turned out, it also referred to his final game as the Colts' head coach.

"What a rodeo it was, man. Did you see them ride?" Pagano said, referring to his players. "They put their spurs on and they kicked that horse. What a way to finish. What a way to go out."

--Indianapolis will have the third overall pick in the 2018 draft this spring. The last three time the Colts drafted in the top three, the team added running back Marshall Faulk, quarterback Peyton Manning and quarterback Andrew Luck.

--The Colts' 2018 home and away opponents are now known. Indianapolis will face the Bengals, Bills, Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants, Jaguars, Texans and Titans at home. Away games will be against the Eagles, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, Raiders, Redskins, Texans, and Titans.

--Indianapolis finished the 2017 season with no turnovers in its last four games. The Colts' 15 total turnovers for the season tied for fourth-fewest in league.

NOTES: QB Andrew Luck remains optimistic that he will be ready to participate in team OTA work as he continues to rehab from last January's shoulder surgery. "I'm very optimistic. I feel really good. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process I'm in right now," he said. "I've had great help. So I hope to continue to get better. Yeah, I plan on being ready for everything." ... With 100 yards rushing vs. Houston Sunday, RB Frank Gore passed O.J. Simpson, who had 42, for the 16th most 100-yard games in NFL history. Gore is the fifth player in NFL history to record 14,000 rushing yards. He also reached 1,200 yards from scrimmage in his 12th consecutive year, which extended his NFL record. ... K Adam Vinatieri hit a 54-yard field goal against the Texans, tying him with Jason Elam (39) for the seventh-most made field goals from 50-plus yards in NFL history. ... TE Jack Doyle finished the 2017 season with 77 receptions. That's the second-most receptions by a tight end in a single season in franchise history behind Dallas Clark's 100 in 2009. ... OLB Jabaal Sheard finished the season as the Colts' sack leader with 5.5. Sheard was an offseason veteran free-agent addition from New England.

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