Who is at fault for the Colts' problems: GM Ryan Grigson or coach Chuck Pagano?

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay really has no choice. Changes need to be made because his team has been the NFL's biggest underachiever this season.

It's a given that the roster will look different next season because Indianapolis is guaranteed not to have a winning record for the first time since 2011.

What will happen with general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano?

Grigson and Pagano, who have a strained relationship, are both at fault in their own ways for the Colts' problems this season.

Pagano has talked for several weeks now like a coach who knows he won't be back next season. Grigson is under contract for the 2016 season, but you have to wonder where things stand with him since he is responsible for assembling a roster that Irsay expected to compete for Super Bowl.

Pagano's coaching flaws and the blemishes on the roster Grigson assembled were put in perspective when franchise quarterback Andrew Luck went down with injuries this season.

Here's a look at three problem areas each for Pagano and Grigson that have cropped up since the two joined the organization in 2012.


Not being defensive. Pagano arrived in Indianapolis in 2012 with a defensive reputation after he led the Baltimore Ravens to the third-best defense in the NFL during the 2011 season. He hasn't had the same kind of success with Colts. In Pagano's four seasons, the Colts have ranked in the 20s in overall defense three times and have never ranked higher than 11th. Indianapolis is currently ranked 29th in the league in defense.

Weak outside of the division. The Colts are coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons in the AFC South and they're 19-4 against division foes since 2012. But when they playing outside of one of the worst divisions in the NFL, the story has been vastly different. The Colts are only 20-19 in games against non-AFC South teams under Pagano, who missed 12 games during the 2012 season while battling cancer. One of Pagano's biggest blemishes is that he's 0-5 (counting the playoffs) against the New England Patriots.

Too many blowout losses. Losing by a total of 70 points in back-to-back weeks against Pittsburgh and Jacksonville summed up how unprepared the Colts have looked at times under Pagano. Not counting the 12 games he missed in 2012, the Colts have lost 10 games by at least 20 points, including five games by at least 30 points, under the coach. Two of those blowout losses have come in the playoffs, including a 38-point loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game last season.


Questionable moves. LaRon Landry, Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas were all free-agent pickups who were released during the offseason. Offensive lineman Todd Herremans, a 2015 free-agent signee who was released last week, joins that trio as free agents Grigson signed to be starters only to have them not work out. You also can't forget that Grigson gave up a first-round pick to acquire running back Trent Richardson, who turned out to be a bust.

Draft picks not panning out. You can't argue with that 2012 draft class, which was led by Luck. Grigson also selected receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in that draft. It's 2013 and beyond when we start to see a substantial drop-off in Grigson's draft choices. Linebacker Bjoern Werner, a first-round pick in 2013, has been a fixture on the inactive list (six times) this season. The Colts didn't have a first-round pick in 2014 because of the Richardson trade, and they used this year's first-round pick on receiver Phillip Dorsett when there was a clear need to address the offensive line. Rookie defensive linemen David Parry and Henry Anderson have started this season, and safety Clayton Geathers could end up starting next season.

No protection. This has been at the center of Grigson's problems. It's why Luck has taken a pounding during his four seasons and why Matt Hasselbeck has been knocked out of the past three games. It's not that Grigson hasn't tried to address the offensive line. He's selected six offensive linemen, including two current starters, since 2012, but they've done very little to prove they're long-term fixtures up front, with the exception of Jack Mewhort. The Colts found out the hard way this season that it doesn't matter how many talented skill position players they surround the quarterback with if the offensive line can't do its job by blocking and opening up holes for the running backs.