Changes are coming. There’s no question about that.
The only unknown is, what will those changes be?
Firing the head coach seems obvious. So does terminating the general manager.
A complete purge of the coaching staff might also be in the offing, along with a wholesale roster overhaul.
Tough to blame Jim Irsay if he does all of the above, which he just might.
But of all the possible moves, one might be less wise than the others.
That would be firing the head coach.
Not really sure that’s the Colts’ main problem.
Chuck Pagano may or may not be a genius, but he has — on three previous occasions — won 11 games, and done so with rosters that shouldn’t have won 11 total games during that span.
With the exception of a player named Andrew Luck, Pagano hasn’t been given much to work with. All the preseason hype about how amazingly talented the Colts were was just, well, hype.
Indy has an amazingly talented quarterback in Luck, and that’s about it. There are a few nice pieces here and there, but the majority are not championship building blocks. Not even close.
What’s more, that’s been the case the past four years.
So why is this year different?
Luck was otherworldly and healthy the first three, and that masked a lot — if not all — of the Colts’ deficiencies.
This year, Luck has been neither otherworldly or healthy, and it’s revealed the Colts for what they are — a below average team with below average talent that was never built for a championship.
Does that have anything to do with coaching? Maybe a little.
Does it have anything to do with general managing? Just about all of it does.
For three years, the Colts managed to win games — and make the playoffs, including the AFC Championship Game — on Luck’s playmaking and Pagano’s ability to motivate second-tier players. But the salad days are over.
Luck is hurting, the roster hasn’t improved, and the inspiration magic is gone. No coach can work miracles forever.
Which brings us back to general managing.
Ryan Grigson is the architect. The roster assembly is on him. And so, by extension, his responsibility for what has been a near-disaster of a season.
Although a familiar and tired refrain, Grigson’s failure to strengthen the offensive line is not only baffling, it’s reckless and inexcusable. It’s cost the Colts two quarterbacks and, barring a miracle, a division championship.
But the offensive line isn’t the only problem area. It just happens to be the most glaring. The defense is a disaster, the running game non-existent, and a wealth of pricey free agents have delivered little or nothing.
Is that coaching? Again, maybe a little, but it’s mostly general managing.
That’s what the postmortem will reveal.
Firing Pagano may or may not be a good move. Although it would satisfy the blood lust of angry fans calling for his head, it might do little — or nothing — to fix what’s wrong on the field.
Because if you’re going to replace Pagano, the objective is to replace him with someone better. And who is that someone going to be? A retread from another frustrated franchise? The next great up-and-coming assistant from a championship team?
Both are risky moves. Unless you know you are making an upgrade, replacing a coach who has taken bad teams to the playoffs probably isn’t wise.
Replacing the general manager, however, is a different matter.
Grigson has proven he isn’t up to the job. Making bad personnel moves is bad enough. But if reports about his philosophical and ego clashes with Pagano are true, that’s even worse. There is little doubt the bad chemistry has degraded the product. Proof is in the results.
So what’s the solution?
Simple, really. Replace the general manager, give Pagano more say in personnel matters, and see what happens.
If problem areas are seriously addressed and Luck is healthy next season, there’s no reason why the Colts can’t return to postseason relevance.
If they don’t, then you fire the coach.
Then you go back to the drawing board — and talk Tony Dungy out of the broadcast booth.
Rick Morwick is sports editor for the Daily Journal of Johnson County, a sister paper to the Daily Reporter. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.