INDIANAPOLIS – Missing the playoffs for a second straight season has once again brought uncertainty to the direction of Jim Irsay's football team.
Chuck Pagano, who is under contract through 2019, said on Monday that he still expects to be the head coach next season. When Pagano spoke to the media Monday afternoon, he had yet to have his annual season-ending meeting with Owner Jim Irsay.
The foggy situation regarding the future of the Colts comes from the team's consecutive missed playoff appearances, the first time the organization has seen that occur since 1997-98.
Here is the Monday notebook with Pagano meeting the media and the players cleaning out their lockers with the off-season now here.
Chuck Pagano on if he expects to be back in 2017:
"That's the plan.
"I don't have any reason to believe that I wouldn't be."
Bowen's Analysis:* *Chuck Pagano definitely talked like a man coming back for a sixth season in Indianapolis. Pagano's final media session of the season was filled with questions regarding his future as head coach. Pagano said that he would sit down with Jim Irsay later on Monday for their typical year-end meeting.
Pagano expected that meeting to primarily be centered on what needs to be different for this team in 2017, in order to get back into the postseason. Irsay and Pagano did speak after Sunday's season finale, however the talk was centered on the game itself, and not about next year.Chuck Pagano on the inability to win the most critical games the last two years involving playoff implications:
"That's the disappointing thing. I would not argue that.
"We have to get better and we will."
Bowen's Analysis: On Monday, Pagano lauded how his team responded in Week 17 to come back for a final-minute victory over the Jaguars. While the resilient nature of the win was present, Pagano knows that his team had to rely on such 'backs against the wall' situations far too often in 2016. The Colts could not take advantage of opportunities at home and within their division, to avoid needing all sorts of help down the stretch in order for a postseason berth to be possible.
In looking back on 2016, Pagano said he should have been more aggressive late in a final-minute Week One loss to the Lions. The two losses to the Texans, Houston's first ever season sweep of the Colts, are two other games still on Pagano's mind. The head coach said on Monday that he believes "continuity is huge." In a brief look ahead to 2017, Pagano said the Colts have "fallen short" on defense---an area that has to be bolstered come spring.Andrew Luck on what needs to change for the Colts to get back into the playoffs:
"It's hard to sort of reflect and look back. I know I have to improve."
Bowen's Analysis: For the second straight year, the Colts were cleaning out their lockers much, much earlier than they expected. Vacations inside the locker room at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center don't typically start on the first days of January. But the Colts are facing that reality for a second straight season.
Individually in 2016, Luck had probably the second best statistical year of his five NFL seasons. Perhaps the hardest part about the Colts watching the playoffs this coming weekend is they had Luck under center down the stretch in 2016. Despite a healthy Luck for all but one game this past year, the Colts lost the AFC South by one game. Two areas the Colts must improve on going forward are controlling home field (4-4 at home in 2016) and getting back to dominating the division (3-3 in the division this past season).*
With rosters expanding to 90 players in the off-season, the Colts signed seven practice squad guys Monday to reserve/future contracts.
These were the seven the Colts inked: outside linebacker Lavar Edwards, wide receiver Marcus Leak, safety Stefan McClure, cornerback Tevin Mitchel, quarterback Stephen Morris, guard Adam Redmond and wide receiver Tevaun Smith.