Five days from now, many men could be joining Chip Kelly on the NFL coaching job market.
For his part, Pagano isn’t planning to slink quietly into the abyss.
“I will fight my ass off to be the coach here,” he said Wednesday, via CBS4. “I’m worried about Tennessee right now. But do I want to be the coach here? Yes.”
The Colts need a win over the Titans and eight other victories to fall their way in Week 17 to pull off the playoff miracle. Even then, backing into the playoffs likely wouldn’t save Pagano’s job at this point.
Owner Jim Irsay has a long memory for embarrassing losses and Pagano has suffered far too many recently, including one to the Jacksonville Jaguars three weeks ago.
Injuries have played a big role in a disastrous season, but Pagano’s relationship with general manager Ryan Grigson would likely make it impossible for both to return next season. ESPN’s Mike Wells cited an unnamed source who described the relationship as “toxic” and multiple sources who said the two have little communication with each other.
Pagano, to his credit, hasn’t been melancholy or resentful about what lies ahead. If Sunday is his last game as coach of the Colts you can bet his team will come out fired up. Despite the odds, his players still fight for him.