PHOENIX – When Week 17 arrives for the Colts this coming season, the final evaluation on Chuck Pagano will not be tied directly to his team's final record.
Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard have carved out some specific parts they want to see Pagano advance in as a head coach.
"I want to tell you this straight away, as the Owner talking with Chris and that sort of thing," Irsay said at this week's Annual League Meetings, knowing that the question is there with a new GM entering the picture with a retaining head coach.
"Evaluating Chuck, how many games we win and that sort of thing, it's going to be based on us really looking at, seeing if some of the areas we felt he had to improve upon to get to that next level, to become that coach who is going to be around 10, 12, 14 years, as a head coach in this league."
Prior to the start of the 2016 season, Irsay mentioned that in-game coaching from Pagano was a facet of the game that needed to get better.
What exactly Ballard and Irsay have pinpointed for Pagano in 2017 was not revealed.
But Irsay hinted at the need to simplify things schematically, in order to get younger talent on the field, should be looked into.
"Honestly, I think it's really about seeing how we are getting the best players on the field and really doing the type of smart things that really make you sit back and say, 'Hey, I don't know if Chuck would have done that three or four years ago. I see growth there,'" Irsay said on Monday.
"We believe he has that ability to learn to grow."
For Pagano, who is under contract through 2019, he walks into a similar situation that was seen in Detroit and Tennessee last year.
In Detroit, new GM Bob Quinn retained head coach Jim Caldwell. The move paid off with the Lions going 9-7 and making the playoffs.
In Tennessee, new GM Jon Robinson held onto head coach Mike Mularkey. The Titans saw their win total improve by six games, and just missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Back when Chris Ballard was hired in late January, he made it clear that the 49 wins Pagano had accumulated in five seasons was extremely impressive.
But strictly wins will not be the ultimate deciding factor in Pagano's future with the Colts.
"Again, it is not a situation where Chuck has to win and win big or else he is gone," Irsay repeated on Monday.
"Chris and I are going to be evaluating his progress in a lot of different ways. A lot of it depends on the health of your team and just the way you feel like you are trending and you are playing."
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