A torn-up young quarterback, a less-than-average offense and defense, and some questionable coaching staff and play calls.
Mix that all together, and you have a pretty complete description of the 2015-16 Indianapolis Colts season. However, the team made the decision on Tuesday to release Pep Hamilton–their offensive coordinator for the past two and half seasons–in an effort to send the Colts in a new direction.
For many Colts fans, this cut is arriving just in time.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Andrew Luck had been playing with cracked ribs since week 3, and it was never listed on the injury report. Not only is this a breach of the rules of the NFL, but it puts the young QB in his fourth season in danger of more serious injuries (which is something the Colts cannot afford with Luck missing weeks 4 and 5 due to a shoulder injury.) Yet, Luck still played on Monday night, thanks to a decision made by Hamilton, head coach Chuck Pagano and Colts GM Ryan Grigson. Still, it simply didn’t pay off when Luck completed only 48.9%of passes and had 3 interceptions in the game. The Colts lost against the Carolina Panthers 26-29.
While the Colts have made the playoffs both full seasons that Hamilton was on the staff, they never seemed to make it far enough despite fans hoping for another Super Bowl run with new coaches and quarterback. They lost in the second roundin 2013 season, and got completely blown out by the Patriots in the AFC Championship earlier this year for the 2014 season.
It has also come to light that many highly-anticipated offensive trades or draft picks have yet to–or never–reach their full potential under Hamilton. A notable example of this is the infamous Trent Richardson, who was unable to make many substantial plays for the Colts despite a stellar career at Alabama and a decent run with the Cleveland Browns.
Needless to say, the Pep Hamilton era of the Indianapolis Colts was not an amazing one. But was he truly the reason for the troubles the Colts have been facing? Some Colts fans say no.
In addition to Hamilton, Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson have been listed by critics and fans alike as the reason for failure.
WTHR Sports writer Bob Kravitz wrote last week that he thought the issue was “entirely” Andrew Luck. As of October 27th, Luck was ranked 30th out of 32 for all qualifying QBs in the NFL. This season, Luck hasn’t lived up to former expectations, and that’s an issue for all involved. But Luck is a fan favorite, so putting the blame on him sparked some anger in Kravitz’s comments.
Head coach and #ChuckStrong Chuck Pagano is also the target of much criticism. Former pro-cornerback Champ Bailey told Fox Sports Live that Pagano should have been fired “two weeks ago”when the Colts lost miserably to the Patriots. Pagano also did not sign a contract extension with the Colts during the preseason, which perhaps is a sign he had planned to leave soon anyway. However, the Colts have reached the playoffs every year that he has lead the team, making the decision to cut him a difficult one.
Lastly, transaction-happy Colts GM Ryan Grigson has always been a controversial figure in the franchise. He’s made approximately 850 trades, draft picks, and signings since his start in 2012, and it’s well known that he and Colts owner Jim Irsay regularly butt heads. Grigson’s attempt to piece together the perfect team throughout the past 3 seasons hasn’t gone entirely to plan, as evidenced by the stats from this year and years prior. Gregg Doyel, writer for the Indianapolis Star, wrote a fiery piece about Grigson’s incompetency and the need for his removal; and the fans who commented seem mostly to agree.
Whatever the solution may be, one thing is certain: the 3-5 Colts need to get it together. Cutting Hamilton may be the best play the team makes this season, or it may prove to be the final nail in the coffin.