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Colts keeping Chuck Pagano even though they couldn’t even win the AFC South

After missing the postseason in back-to-back years, the Colts still aren’t making a change at head coach.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After weeks of speculation about Chuck Pagano’s future as the Indianapolis Colts head coach, it sounds like he’ll be sticking around for another season at least. Pagano has been told by owner Jim Irsay that he’ll be coaching the team in 2017, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News.

However, there is still no official word from Irsay, who’s been deliberating the fate of Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson since the season ended last Sunday.

This is the second year in a row that the season’s ended with Irsay deliberating over the future of his coach and general manager. Last year, there were reports that Irsay reached out to Sean Payton about the job, which would have required a trade with the Saints.

Nothing ever materialized with Payton. On Jan. 4, 2016, Pagano and Grigson both agreed to contract extensions with the team after a “heart to heart” with Irsay.

Grigson’s future as the Colts general manager is still up in the air.

Indianapolis opened up the year 1-3 with losses to Denver, Detroit, and Jacksonville, heating up Pagano’s seat immediately. The Colts finished at 8-8 for the second consecutive season, in large part because of roster still short on talent, particularly on defense. The team allowed an average of 24.5 points per game.

Even more damning was their inability to win the AFC South, a division that was wide open for the taking all season long. A 3-3 record over their last six games and a backbreaking home loss to the Texans put the Colts out of contention.

After going 11-5 in each of his first three seasons — including an AFC Championship appearance in 2014 — the Colts have now missed out on the playoffs in back-to-back years in a clear sign of regression.

On the field, there were plenty of arguments that Pagano was never given the right tools to work with. A few head-scratching selections in the NFL draft by Grigson — such as taking Philip Dorsett with his first round selection in 2015 when the team didn’t require another wideout — certainly didn’t help. Luck never got the upgrade at offensive line he desperately needed, and the Colts’ defense was left bare.

All of it culminated in a 2016 season where Luck was the second most sacked quarterback in the league, the defense was bottom-10 in yards allowed and Indianapolis teetered between mediocrity and malfunction.

Pagano inherited a franchise coming off a 2-14 season, and following the departure of Peyton Manning. He led the Colts back to relevancy in one season on the job. The quick success inflated expectations that they’ve been chasing every since.

The Colts have a lot of work to do in the offseason to get back to where they need to be, back to where the season doesn’t end with widespread speculation about whether the coach and GM will be fired.