Pagano faces daunting challenge as Colts try to rebound

Chuck Pagano might be facing his greatest challenge all season.

Posted: Oct 25, 2017 4:03 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2017 4:03 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Chuck Pagano might be facing his greatest challenge all season.

He needs to keep the reeling Indianapolis Colts together, unified and working toward the same goals. It won’t be easy.

One day after the Colts were shut out for the first time in 376 regular-season games, Pagano ignored the outside chatter about his job status and instead focused on the most immediate solution — winning a game to get back in the AFC South chase.

“We’re not worried about anything other than Cincinnati and what we put out there yesterday (for the fans),” he said. “They deserve better and we’re going to do everything we can to do better.”

Jacksonville exposed many flaws in Sunday’s 27-0 victory.

The Colts (2-5), without three of their projected starting offensive linemen in the second half Sunday, allowed seven sacks in the final 25 minutes.

Jacksonville finished with 20 quarterback hits and 10 sacks, the most ever permitted in a single game in the franchise’s Indianapolis era.

Indy’s offense finished with a paltry 232 yards and the defense wasn’t much better.

Blake Bortles threw for a season-high 330 yards by hitting big play after big play and the Jaguars managed to rush for 188 yards even with Leonard Fournette, the league’s No. 2 rusher, inactive because of a sprained right ankle.

Things got so ugly Colts players were showered with boos when the first half ended and again during a miserable second half as the number of empty seats steadily increased.

Then the real trouble began.

Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton urged the offensive line to take “some pride up front and block more,” demonstrating a rare fissure in a usually unified locker room. His comment didn’t go over well with his teammates.

“That’s what needs to not happen. There can’t be pointing of fingers,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said.

“Everybody has to look at their own game, see what they can do better on each play and if everyone gets a little better than the team can get better.”

On Monday, after meeting with Pagano, Hilton backtracked and apologized.

“I love them to death, and I was wrong. I’m always against that, and then I go out there and do it. So, 100 percent I messed up. All on me,” Hilton said.

“I’m sorry for that, and I’m a leader. Those guys look up to me, and I kind of stabbed them in the back. So for me, I’m very sorry about that, and I’ll approach them individually, one-on-one, and just let them know that I was 100 percent dead wrong.”

Other solutions will be just as difficult to find.

With Indy two games out of the division lead and facing a two-game road trip, fans again are vociferously calling for Pagano’s ouster with play-calling among their top complaints.

The latest criticism came after Jacoby Brissett was stopped short of a first down on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 from the Jaguars 6, ending Indy’s best scoring chance. Pagano explained that’s not how the play was designed and blamed himself for the miscue — even though it came after a timeout.

“Just a communication breakdown,” he said. “It’s bad, bad ball.”

Then there are injuries.

Andrew Luck will not throw again this week after being temporarily shut down last week because of soreness in his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.

Center Ryan Kelly (hamstring), who didn’t finish Sunday’s game, is expected to practice Wednesday.

Meanwhile, inside linebacker John Simon (stinger) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (concussion), both starters, may not be available for the Bengals game.

And, as feared, the rookie season of promising safety Malik Hooker is over after he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee. Indy’s first-round draft pick was tied for third in the NFL with three interceptions, and his absence leaves a gaping hole in an already undermanned secondary.

“He’s a ballhawk. You can’t really teach that,” cornerback Vontae Davis said. “The games he did play — he was always around the football. We’ve just got to do a better job of just continuing to create turnovers — overemphasize it.”

All of it looks as if the Colts may have hit rock bottom after 5½ seasons under Pagano.

But inside the locker room, Pagano insists there’s time to find a fix.

“You’ve got to execute and you’ve got to make plays. There’s nothing magical about it,” Pagano said. “We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to play better.”

Terre Haute
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 89°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 91°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Rockville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 84°
Casey
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Brazil
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 89°
Marshall
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Hot Weather with Evening Storms
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 156638

Reported Deaths: 7419
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook961864741
Lake10464429
DuPage9810491
Kane8151285
Will7382326
Winnebago3202106
St. Clair2386145
McHenry2309103
Kankakee144366
Madison128571
Rock Island123230
Unassigned1174201
Kendall106821
Champaign105717
Peoria71030
DeKalb65722
Boone64021
Sangamon55333
Jackson35919
McLean33415
Randolph3277
Ogle3194
Stephenson2876
LaSalle28017
Macon25422
Clinton25216
Whiteside22015
Union21419
Adams2041
Coles20217
Grundy1965
Tazewell1918
Iroquois1765
Knox1750
Monroe17013
Williamson1644
Warren1500
Cass14010
Morgan1344
Henry1221
Jefferson11717
Lee1092
McDonough10815
Vermilion902
Montgomery892
Pulaski850
Marion790
Macoupin723
Douglas610
Perry611
Jo Daviess551
Livingston552
Woodford532
Christian524
Franklin500
Jasper477
Jersey451
Bureau432
Ford421
Clark410
Effingham341
Menard320
Cumberland300
Mercer290
Johnson280
Mason280
Fayette263
Alexander250
Moultrie250
Washington250
Logan240
Edgar230
Wabash230
Bond222
Carroll212
Hancock211
Piatt210
Shelby211
Wayne211
Crawford200
De Witt180
Fulton170
Saline170
Massac160
Schuyler140
Lawrence130
Marshall130
Greene110
Brown100
White100
Richland90
Clay80
Henderson80
Pike80
Gallatin70
Hamilton70
Stark60
Edwards50
Out of IL30
Calhoun20
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 52685

Reported Deaths: 2775
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12192697
Lake5764251
Elkhart372061
Allen2988135
St. Joseph223570
Hamilton1779101
Cass16519
Hendricks1482100
Johnson1366118
Porter86738
Vanderburgh8586
Tippecanoe79510
Clark72844
Madison68564
LaPorte63928
Howard61758
Bartholomew60945
Kosciusko5874
Marshall57412
Noble52628
Boone49744
LaGrange49110
Delaware48452
Jackson4813
Hancock47236
Shelby46225
Floyd42544
Monroe37528
Dubois3447
Morgan34431
Grant33426
Henry30618
Montgomery29720
Clinton2913
White28110
Warrick27929
Dearborn27723
Vigo2638
Decatur25732
Lawrence25325
Harrison22022
Greene20032
Miami1972
Jennings18012
Putnam1758
DeKalb1714
Scott1669
Wayne1656
Perry16010
Daviess15117
Jasper1422
Orange14023
Steuben1403
Ripley1357
Gibson1332
Franklin1288
Wabash1203
Carroll1142
Starke1103
Fayette1087
Whitley1086
Newton10110
Huntington932
Jefferson932
Wells841
Randolph814
Fulton791
Knox730
Jay720
Posey680
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay655
Rush633
Spencer621
Owen541
Sullivan541
Benton510
Adams491
Brown461
Blackford412
Fountain382
Tipton361
Crawford350
Switzerland320
Parke280
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren161
Pike150
Union150
Unassigned0193