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Andrew Luck: Gutsy of Jim Irsay to keep Chuck Pagano


Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano's seat was so persistently hot last season that he was moved to remark in December, "They can fire you but they can't eat you."

After a season of well-documented in-fighting with general manager Ryan Grigson, Pagano beat long odds to emerge with a new contract after his season-ending meeting with owner Jim Irsay.

Franchise cornerstone Andrew Luck, newly minted as the highest-paid player in football, credits Irsay for keeping an open mind and bucking league-wide expectations of a regime change.

"I think Mr. Irsay showed a lot of guts keeping coach Pagano and Ryan," Luck recently told the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer. "I think the easy thing is to start all over, I really do. I think that was an awesome, gutsy move. I think it surprised me, but then again, I think any decision would've surprised me."

It's easy to see why Luck appreciates the front-office stability. This has been an offseason of change for the quarterback, with a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterbacks coach, a new backup as a sounding board and a new scheme to learn.

Colts fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a bounceback season for the offensive leader who plummeted from No. 7 to No. 92 on NFL Network's The Top 100 Players Of 2016 countdown.

"I've never seen him more motivated," Irsay said, via Keefer. "That fire is in his eye in a special way."

In the same Indianapolis Star feature, Luck intimated that injuries may have been a more serious issue than he let on -- even before his season-ending kidney laceration.

Now that he's back to full health, there's no reason to believe he won't return to the 2014 heights that saw him lead the NFL in touchdown passes while advancing to the AFC Championship Game.