No final decision has been made on his fate in Indianapolis, but he spoke Wednesday like a man preparing for sweeping change.
"The last rodeo is what I told them," Pagano said of his speech to players ahead of Sunday's season finale against the Texans. "A picture of a guy on a bucking bronco with the spurs on it. It's our last ride together."
To be clear, Pagano was pointing to the team's final shot at a win -- not his job status -- but the sense of finality is notable.
"No team that I've ever been a part of has ever been the same. Regardless of the record, that's just the National Football League. So this is our last rodeo together," Pagano said. "So we're going to enjoy and embrace every single second of it, you know? We get obsessed with completion. That's what successful people do, they get obsessed with completion. And we need to complete this season. And no better way to go out than with a win."
Earlier this month, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Pagano "understands that his future is very much in doubt, even joking ... that everyone is on a one-day contract."
At the time of that report, Jim Irsay told Rapoport that "no decision" had been made on Pagano, with the Colts owner saying he planned to sit down with first-year general manager Chris Ballard after the season.
Asked Wednesday if this campaign has felt unusually unique, Pagano quickly agreed.
"To say the least. There's been a lot of changes since the beginning of 2017, right? Been a ton," Pagano said. "I mean, there's a lot of this stuff that you can't make up, but it's the National Football League, so expect the unexpected. We dealt with it. That's what you do. You just keep picking yourself up, whatever it is."
Pagano was put in a bleak position right away with star quarterback Andrew Luck shut down for the year following offseason shoulder surgery. Still, the Colts have more problems than their missing signal-caller and it's reasonable to believe Ballard would desire a fresh start with a hand-picked coach of his own.