<
>

Five questions facing the Indianapolis Colts this offseason

The Indianapolis Colts finished the regular season with a record of 8-8 after a 30-24 win Sunday. Here are five questions facing the Colts this offseason:

Should the Colts retain coach Chuck Pagano? An argument could be made that owner Jim Irsay should keep Pagano over general manager Ryan Grigson. Pagano is 100 percent a player’s coach, but the problem is he arrived in Indianapolis in 2012 highly regarded in the defensive department after being the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator. Indianapolis has yet to crack the top 10 defensively under Pagano, and what has hurt him with Irsay is the number of times the Colts suffered blowout losses. Back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Jacksonville by a combined 70 points in Weeks 13 and 14 put things into perspective on how things have gone for Pagano, who turned down a contract extension in the offseason. The Colts lost 10 games by at least 20 points, including five games by at least 30 points, under Pagano. He’s also 0-5 against New England, including a 38-point loss in the AFC Championship Game last season.

Should general manager Ryan Grigson be fired? Led by quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, Grigson had an incredible first draft. But Grigson has swung and missed on way too many drafts, trades and free agents since then. Another significant issue with Grigson is his meddling ways. That’s the main reason his relationship with Pagano reached the level of no repair. You have to believe the odds of Irsay being able to hire a big-name coach with Grigson remaining as general manager aren't good because a good coach won’t want to work for a person who has a reputation for micromanaging.

Should the Colts hire a first-time NFL head coach? No. They’d be better off retaining Pagano than going after one of the up-and-coming NFL coaches. Pagano had never been a head coach before, and now he has four years of experience under his belt. It would be a surprise if Irsay hired a first-time coach because he knows he can’t waste away the prime years of Luck’s career. Irsay has publicly said he wants to win multiple Super Bowls with Luck.

What is the biggest offseason need? Where do we start? The list grew as the season went along. But what it boils down to is the same thing that has been discussed after each of the previous seasons with Luck. The Colts have to address their offensive line. Luck and Matt Hasselbeck, the team’s two primary quarterbacks, took a pounding this season. They were sacked a combined 31 times, as the Colts didn’t have an offensive lineman start every game and they changed the starting lineup up front after just two games.

How will the 2015 season impact Luck’s contract negotiations? It won’t. Irsay said in March 2014 that the plan is for them to lock Luck, who missed nine games with shoulder, rib, kidney and abdominal injuries, into a long-term contract. Luck’s 2-5 record and inconsistent play won’t stop Irsay from opening up his wallet and making his franchise quarterback one of the highest-paid players in the NFL. The Colts want to get Luck’s contract taken care of so they avoid the risk of possibly using the franchise tag on him in 2017, which at this point seems unlikely. Luck may have cost himself a few dollars by having the worst season of his four-year NFL career. He finished the season with 1,881 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and 13 turnovers.