Colts owner Jim Irsay woke up on Monday morning hopeful that he could keep his head coach. He was probably one of the few.
"Waking up this morning, I'm always hopeful for continuity," Irsay said Monday night, via The Indy Star. "I could have walked someone in that door tonight or tomorrow night and have them walking in with eight figures a year ... and making a big splash. If that was the best for us, believe me, I would do it. This guy is a great coach. You don't have to go too far to ask a lot of people about what he's done."
The theme from Monday was that Irsay met with Pagano, then Irsay met with Ryan Grigson. The coach and GM were reportedly at odds all season. Then, Pagano met with Grigson, and after a long, tumultuous day the Colts were ready to trot out their head coach again with a brand new contract extension.
"It was getting together and getting in there and getting honest," Irsay said, "getting everything right and getting a clear vision going forward."
Irsay insisted that pressure from fans and players did not contribute to their decision.
His comments, though, underscore a wildly surprising night in Indianapolis. Pagano was offered a one-year extension at the beginning of the season that would make him the lowest-paid coach in the NFL. Now, he has a four-year contract after firing his offensive coordinator and missing the playoffs.
One could argue that going 8-8 without Andrew Luck was deserving of a new deal in itself. But from the people who didn't seem to want him in the first place?
"Sometimes you have to go through rough times to be able to build and have something special staring you in the face at the end," Grigson said. "So, what we went through this year, that adversity, I believe from Andrew Luck to myself to coach Pagano, that adversity is what's going to springboard us to greatness. Because that's life. He's a fighter. I'm a fighter. Jim's a fighter. All three of us are going to fight together until we get the crown."