It had been 18 days since the end of the season since we’d heard hide or hair of Colts owner Jim Irsay, which was very strange considering the questionable job statuses of coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson, both of whom, after another disappointing season, seemed prime candidates to be replaced. Yet Irsay skipped his league-mandated Monday-after press conference (throwing Pagano out there to twist in the wind) and entered radio silence. And then, this morning, tweets.
After linking to a Robert Mathis highlight reel, Irsay dropped this minor bomb:
Andrew Luck had an excellent season, and is probably the favorite for comeback player of the year, even despite not getting much help from his offense, especially the poor pass protection that should ultimately cost Grigson his job someday.
But not today! Irsay surfacing with this—and not, say, an announcement about the thing we were all wondering about—is probably a pretty good sign that Pagano and Grigson will return for next season. But not for a lack of trying, reportedly.
Informed speculation said the Colts wanted to know who they’d be able to get as coach if they had a vacancy, and as awkward as that’s been for Pagano, it’s smart on a fundamental level. Whether or not a coach is working out to your satisfaction, it’s a mistake to fire him unless you believe you can hire someone better. That someone was apparently Jon Gruden.
Adam Schefter reported this weekend that Irsay went hard to lure Gruden away from his ESPN job, but just couldn’t do it. (The 49ers and Rams reportedly tried and failed too.) Whether it was the money or the situation or a genuine love of his current job, Gruden—a perennial coach-in-waiting rumor—wasn’t convinced, and will stay in the broadcast booth. And Chuck Pagano will return with every likelihood that we get to do this dance again next year.
Grigson, too, shouldn’t get too comfy. Jay Glazer reported that Irsay has been pushing hard to get Peyton Manning to run the Colts’ football operations. That’s apparently still up in the air, with no word on what it might mean for Grigson’s job description, or his job.
Both Pagano and Grigson (somewhat inexplicably) received contract extensions last winter that will run through 2019, so it’s still a while before they are formally lame ducks. But given Jim Irsay’s whims, and his obvious desire for big-name hires, they’re going to feel like caretakers for as long as they’re employed.