The Indianapolis Colts announced Tuesday evening that they have terminated the contract of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. The team is off to a 3-5 start this season, good enough to lead the AFC South but well short of preseason Super Bowl expectations.
Associate head coach Rob Chudzinski will take over as offensive coordinator under head coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts released a statement through the team website.
"Through the first eight weeks of the season, we have felt our offense hasn't performed at the consistent level that we need," the statement read. "Because of this we've decided to go in a different direction and relieve Pep Hamilton of his duties as offensive coordinator. As head coach of this team, it's my responsibility to make sure I'm doing everything we can to put us in the best position to succeed. We thank Pep for his service to the team and wish him all the best."
The Colts are coming off an overtime loss to the Carolina Panthers. They overcame a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to nearly upset an undefeated team, but the Panthers turned around and kicked a game-winning field goal after securing an Andrew Luck interception.
The game was emblematic of a lot of the Colts' problems this season. Offensive inconsistency has plagued the team despite a bevy of what should be reliable options. Luck was expected to continue his upward progression through his first three NFL seasons, especially when buoyed by the offseason additions of wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore.
Despite the talent, the Colts have had a habit of committing bad mental mistakes. After Monday night, they are second-to-last in the NFL, behind only the Detroit Lions, with 19 turnovers on the season. Opponents have scored 69 points off those turnovers. Luck is on pace to shatter his rookie interception total of 18 with 12 through six games played. With 13 touchdown passes, he should also fall well short of the 40 he threw just last season.
Like Luck, Hamilton was seemingly on a meteoric rise. He interviewed for several NFL head coaching positions after the 2014 season largely on the strength of his work with Luck. The two had been paired for five seasons, starting in 2011 when Hamilton became the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Stanford during Luck's redshirt sophomore season.
Hamilton was hired by the Colts in 2012, the year after they selected Luck No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. Under Hamilton, the Colts improved from 28th in scoring to 18th in 2012, then 13th in 2013 and sixth in 2014. They've fallen back down to 20th this season, and ranked 16th with 352.3 yards per game. The Colts have already matched the number of losses they had last season.
Pagano has also been rumored to be on the hot seat, and will likely remain on it if promoting Chudzinski doesn't suddenly change the team's fortunes. Pagano is in his fourth season as the Colts' head coach. He had no head coaching experience before taking the job in Indianapolis. Earlier in the season, he had to defend himself against criticism for a botched fake punt play he called against the New England Patriots in Week 6.