Irsay isn’t ruling out Chuck Pagano extension before season

INDIANAPOLIS — Hold off for now on officially calling Chuck Pagano a lame duck coach for the Indianapolis Colts.

Owner Jim Irsay hasn’t shut the door on giving Pagano a contract extension before the start of the 2015 season.

“I really feel positive about Chuck and what he’s done for us. There’s no question that he’s accomplished a lot since he’s been here,” Irsay said while speaking at the Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, an event to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research. “And, obviously, we’re here for this gala because he had that illness in 2012. Really, it’s only been kind of two years almost that he’s been coaching. He’s done a very good job. Nothing rules out that we couldn’t have an extension done before the season. If not, we can still, I’m sure, probably work things out.”

Pagano turned down a one-year contract extension from the Colts earlier in the offseason. Pagano will officially become a lame duck coach if he and the Colts don’t work out a deal before the season starts.

“There were some efforts to talk about it and we just didn’t get there,” Irsay said. “Sometimes that happens and people have different opinions these days. If you go back to the old days, there were no agents involved. … Again, we’re real positive about Chuck Pagano and the things he’s done and it’s not a sign of anything extremely negative. We just haven’t gotten anything done in terms of a long-term contract.”

Irsay made sure to say that it’s not a Super Bowl-or-bust season for Pagano, who was hired in 2012. He led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game last season and they’ve won 11 games in each of the past three seasons. One thing Irsay did say, though, is that he wants better consistency from his team.

“Obviously we had a great year, but again, the Pittsburgh game, the Dallas game, the Patriots games, they were concerning and we’re looking to make sure that we get that consistency and are really playing, if health is with us, really playing with that top four group, that top three or four teams,” Irsay said. “I think last year Green Bay, Seattle, New England and probably even Dallas were really teams that were playing consistent and all those things. It seemed like the NFC had maybe three [teams] and the AFC had one [team] with the Patriots.”

The fact that Pagano is in the position of getting a new contract with the Colts is a positive when you take into consideration his health in the fall of 2012. He missed 12 games while battling leukemia. Pagano is healthy and enjoying help awareness for cancer research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. The money raised at his event Friday helps support cancer research projects in Indiana and other states.

“Our goal right here in Indianapolis is to find a cure for all blood cancers,” Pagano said. “Just maybe we see that happen in our lifetime.”

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