Chuck Pagano entering make-or-break year with Colts

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has shot down speculation that coach Chuck Pagano must win a Super Bowl to keep his job in 2015.

There is still ample reason to believe, however, that Pagano will enter the season on the proverbial hot seat despite guiding his team deeper into the playoffs in each of the past two years.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport told NFL Total Access' Scott Hanson on Wednesday that Pagano is in a "make-or-break" year after rejecting "a couple of one-year extensions" from the Colts.

Rapoport's update came in response to a report from WTHR's Bob Kravitz outlining a "growing disconnect" between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.

One example of the philosophical differences, per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, is that Grigson wanted rookie Donte Moncrief to see more playing time at the expense of an injury-ravaged liability in Reggie Wayne last season.

These divergences of vision are far from uncommon in the NFL. The front office is charged with looking at the big picture while the coaching staff tends to rely on veterans they can trust rather than unproven younger players.

In this case, Grigson was in the right. Pagano's loyalty to a long-time crony -- while admirable on a personal level -- sabotaged the Colts' offense down the stretch last season.

That isn't to say that Grigson is blameless. He has whiffed on high-profile trades (Trent Richardson), draft picks (Bjoern Werner) and free-agent signings (Gosder Cherilus, LaRon Landry), leaving the Colts' roster short-handed for important AFC clashes with the Patriots.

Pagano, meanwhile, showed tangible improvement as an in-game strategist last year, winning a series of increasingly aggressive gambles in key situations.

So where does that leave the head coach's standing within the organization?

Pagano believes the current roster is the strongest it has been under his watch. He further believes he will coach the Colts "for many years to come."

In other words, he realizes he's sitting on a full house and has pushed all of his chips to the center of the table.

Barring a catastrophic collapse in a conference with flawed super powers, Pagano will cash in next offseason.

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