INDIANAPOLIS -- There was going to be a domino to fall inside the Indianapolis Colts organization. It had to happen because the team some considered a threat for the AFC crown this season has underachieved. The Colts are currently in the midst of their first three-game losing streak with quarterback Andrew Luck, coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton turned out to be the fall guy, as he was fired and replaced by Rob Chudzinski on Tuesday. Hamilton's firing allows Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to survive at least another week in what has been a soap-opera-filled season for the franchise, starting at the top with Grigson and working all the way down to Luck, the team's franchise player.
Hamilton was the easiest to fire at this point in the season. Pagano still has the respect of his players, and Manusky can point to the team’s offensive problems playing a part as to why his defensive unit is 25th in the league in points allowed.
Hamilton wasn't supposed to have problems leading the Colts offense this season after his play calling helped them finish third in the NFL last season in yards per game (406.6) despite an ineffective running game. The Colts have a running game in Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw to go with Luck and the passing game this season, but the unit hasn’t lived up to expectations and Luck is having the worst season of his NFL career.
The biggest knock on Hamilton was his play calling with the personnel they have on the roster. It took a 17-point deficit to the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter for Hamilton to let the offense loose by playing more up-tempo.
After the Carolina loss Monday, I asked Pagano why they don’t play with the offensive pace they showed in the fourth quarter against the Panthers on a more regular basis.
“Maybe in this we might say because of the weather conditions," Pagano said. "We were running the football OK. We were gaining some yards on the ground. Obviously you have to score and you have to score early, and we didn’t put points on the board early, and that’s something that we talked about. It has been good for us and it got Andrew going, it got him in a rhythm, and we were able to make some plays and put some points on the board.”
One person in the organization told ESPN.com that they had been asking Hamilton to play with tempo for more than two weeks but that their suggestions weren’t being received.
Hamilton deserves some blame for the Colts’ offensive struggles, but the team's overall problems this season can be blamed on many people. And now it has reached the point where it’s every man for himself in the organization.