Chuck Pagano’s coaching style is mix of several influences.
The Indianapolis Colts’ first-year coach obviously learned a lot from his dad, Sam, who was a highly-successful high school coach in Boulder, Colorado. And he’s derived a lot of ideas and techniques from those head coaches both on the collegiate and National Football League level that he’s worked for as a long-time defensive assistant coach.
So it’s been interesting to watch Pagano during the Colts’ spring mini-camps and organized training activity sessions, as well as in the team’s training camp workouts, as he’s tried to sort out his own niche as an NFL head coach.
Being an assistant coach is one thing. But taking over a franchise and being the ultimate coaching decision-maker is something else entirely.
Pagano’s style can be considered player-friendly. He often uses humor and jokes to get his point across. It’s also family-oriented. Wives and children of players and coaches often watched training camp practices at Anderson University from a small hill near the south end zone of the grass practice field.
While professional football is a business, he also wants his players to have fun and to enjoy what they’re doing.
That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see how Pagano decided to end the team’s final training camp practice at AU Friday morning.
Unlike former coaches Jim Mora, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, who would usually have about a 45-minute walkthrough session on “getaway day,” it appeared as if Pagano was prepared to conduct a full workout on the Macholtz Stadium playing field.
Yet there was Pagano, about an hour-and-45-minutes into the practice, calling everybody together in the center of the field. Punter and back-up placekicker Pat McAfee had already connected on a pair of 58-yard field goal attempts. The Colts’ first-year coach came up with an offer that could end the session early.
If McAfee were to make a 59-yard field goal, practice would be over. The team liked the idea and surrounded the third-year kicker. Some were whooping it up. Others became quiet so that McAfee could concentrate on being successful with the kick.
“Well you bring them in there to let them know what we’re doing because we had plays left in practice. The [assistant] coaches go over the [practice] script [before going on to the field]. There were a few plays left, so we brought them in there just to let them know if Pat makes this kick, we’re done for the day. So obviously you have some enthusiasm based on that,” the first-year coach related afterwards.
“Some guys were cheering, some guys were on their hands and knees, ‘Make sure you make it’, some guys were saying, ‘Quiet down, give him silence, let’s make this kick.’ I wanted to see it go through.”
But it wasn’t to be. Despite a good snap from center and a good hold, the ball sailed wide of the goal posts. Distance wasn’t a factor. McAfee just pushed his kick to the left a bit.
While the players were disappointed, Pagano gave his kicker one more chance. This time a chip-shot attempt from 38-yards out. And this time, it was good. Practice over.
“No excuses, right? It was well-deserved. Ever since we got together from day one all the way back to the off-season program, we started phase one from the first team meeting we had until today. These guys have done everything we’ve asked them to do. They’ve bought in hook, line and sinker, they’ve done a great job and it was well deserved,” the Colts coach said.
“I think [McAfee] just overcooked it a little bit to the left. We put it on the 20, right dead in the middle and he nailed it. So it was a good way to end it.”
• Camp over, back to Indy — Despite school starting around the central Indiana area, a nice crowd was on hand at Anderson University for the final day of training camp practices.
The Colts will have a short workout this morning at the team’s Indianapolis headquarters before leaving for Sunday night’s nationally-televised game with Pittsburgh.
“We had a great day. I’d like to thank the fans for coming out [Friday] on this last outing. [The] people of Anderson, everybody associated with the university. They’ve done an outstanding job,” Pagano said.
“We felt like we had a really productive camp, we got a lot of things done and it’s a credit to everybody at this university and again the fans of the city have been awesome to help us get done what we’ve needed to get done.”
Chuck Pagano’s coaching style is mix of several influences.
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
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While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
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New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
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What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
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Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
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A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
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Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
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The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
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