Colts fire offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton

The Indianapolis Colts' wayward season has claimed its first victim.

The team fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the Colts announced Tuesday. The team's associate head coach Rob Chudzinski will assume Hamilton's job. The news comes after another desultory performance Monday night against the Panthers.

Hamilton, who coached Andrew Luck at Stanford, was brought to the team in 2013 after Bruce Arians did wonders with Luck in his rookie season. Arians was a difficult coach to replace and Hamilton took many slings and arrows with a power run-heavy approach early in his tenure. But things mostly turned around in the second half of 2013 and throughout 2014, when the Colts finished third in yards and sixth among NFL teams in points.

The decision comes during a season where head coach Chuck Pagano has been under the microscope. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported before the season that 2015 was a "make or break" season for Pagano despite the Colts' place in the AFC Championship game last year. Rapoport further reported in late September that Pagano "doubts" he'll be back next season. Pagano and Chudzinski have previously coached together at the University of Miami and Cleveland Browns.

"Through the first eight weeks of the season, we have felt our offense hasn't performed at the consistent level that we need. Because of this we've decided to go in a different direction and relieve Pep Hamilton of his duties as offensive coordinator. As head coach of this team, it's my responsibility to make sure I'm doing everything we can to put us in the best position to succeed. We thank Pep for his service to the team and wish him all the best," Chuck Pagano said in a statement.

Midseason firings are emotional. Would Hamilton still have a job if Panthers kicker Graham Gano missed his first attempt in overtime Monday night?

We'll never know the answer to that question, but this feels like Pagano's last-ditch effort to do things his way during a challenging season. Luck looked far more comfortable when the team went to a hurry-up offense late in Monday's game, causing many to wonder why the team doesn't use that approach more often.

We'll get to find out what the new approach will be with Luck on Sunday, when Peyton Manning comes to town with a chance to break the all-time wins and passing yards record in Indianapolis. No pressure. An ugly season for owner Jim Irsay's Colts could get a lot uglier if Chudzinski can't help turn things around.

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