The AFC South saw another big change on Tuesday, as hours after the Titans fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
Associate head coach/special assistant Rob Chudzinski will now serve as coordinator.
Hamilton was fired in the wake of yet another loss for Indianapolis, this one in overtime against the Panthers on Monday night. The Colts got into another hole, and though quarterback Andrew Luck brought his team back to force overtime, in the end he wasn’t able to do enough to get the Colts over the hump and to a .500 record.
In a statement, embattled head coach Chuck Pagano said it was time for the team to go in a different direction.
“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,” Pagano said.
“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.”
Hamilton, 41, was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Stanford, where he guided Andrew Luck. When Bruce Arians left the Colts for Arizona after the 2012 season, Hamilton was hired and reunited with Luck.
While Luck has struggled this season, with 12 interceptions to go with 13 touchdowns, he has again been dealing with a shoddy offensive line and limited run game, and reportedly also has multiple fractured ribs in addition to a shoulder injury.
But after the Colts went 11-5 last season and advanced to the AFC title game, they entered this year with great expectations. To this point, they’ve been the most disappointing team in the NFL, now 3-5 after the loss to Carolina (though thanks to their equally inept AFC South brethren, the Colts are tied for the division lead).
The offense has been problematic, and while Luck has seemingly taken a step back, hindered not just by his injuries but also questionable decision-making, the organization has far deeper problems, and it’s easy to see this as making Hamilton a scapegoat. There have been stories of discord between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, and there may be problems between Grigson and owner Jim Irsay.
Tweeted Indianapolis Star beat writer Stephen Holder:
The Colts play the Broncos and their top-ranked defense this week, and after playing on Monday have one less day of preparation, so it is surprising that the firing of Hamilton was done now rather than during their Week 10 bye. But with the organization is taking on more water than the Titanic, someone had to be tossed overboard.