Indianapolis Colts: Ken Whisenhunt

Pagano has seniority in AFC South

April, 1, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS -- Chuck Pagano has been coach of the Indianapolis Colts for just two seasons. He’s coached only 20 games because his unfortunate battle with leukemia caused him to miss 12 games during the 2012 season.

Those two seasons have put Pagano at the top of the seniority list among coaches in the AFC South.

“We all understand the nature of the business,” he said. “We know how we’re judged and that’s by one thing only: wins and losses. We all know what we signed up for. You just try to do the best you can, win as many games as you can.”

The Colts have won 11 games in each of the past two seasons and a division title in that time span. Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley has the second-longest tenure in the division. He’s heading into his second season with the Jaguars, who were 4-12 last season.

Houston, the biggest disappointment in the NFL last season, and Tennessee have hired new coaches. The Texans hired former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and the Titans named Ken Whisenhunt their coach.

Teams not named the Colts went a combined 13-35 last season in the worst division in the league.

“We don’t take what happened last year for granted,” Pagano said. “You have quality coaches, you have quality players. Everybody’s picking up new players, everybody’s made acquisitions during free agency. All those games, they’re all competitive games.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The AFC South will have two new head coaches next season: Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee and Bill O’Brien in Houston.

O’Brien is returning to the NFL after spending the past two seasons as the coach at Penn State. Whisenhunt, on the other hand, has fresh memory of teams in the AFC South.

The San Diego Chargers, where Whisenhunt was the team’s offensive coordinator, played teams from the AFC South last season.

The Chargers ran for 147 yards and were 7-of-14 on third down in their 19-9 victory over the Colts last October.

Whisenhunt is taking over a Tennessee team that finished 7-9 last season, including going 0-2 against Indianapolis. The Colts, who have the longest-tenured coach in the division in Chuck Pagano, won the division with an 11-5 record.

“If you look at what happened in Kansas City last year, you never know how things are going to change from year to year,” Whisenhunt said Thursday at the scouting combine. “I have a lot of respect for this division. I’ve played teams a number of times here. I’m excited about being in this division and competing.”

The Chiefs went from 2-14 in 2012 to having a complete turnaround by going 11-5 last season.

AFC South has tough first round choices

February, 19, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts, as you've known for months, do not have a first-round pick in May's draft. That's not to say general manager Ryan Grigson won't be wearing his fingers out texting and calling other NFL front office folks.

While the biggest challenge for the Colts -- if things remain the same -- is finding a few special players starting with their pick in the second round, the other teams in the AFC South have tough decisions to make when it comes to selecting in the first round.

That's what happens when you played in the worst division in the league last season.

Houston Texans (No. 1) -- Do the Texans, the biggest disappointment in the league last season, take hot shot Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the first pick? Manziel thinks they should. He also thinks the Texans will regret it if they pass up on him.

"It would be the worst decision they've ever made," he said smiling to the Houston Chronicle and Fort Worth Star Telegram last week. "I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."

Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3) -- Manziel may not get past the Jaguars at No.3 if the Texans pass on him. Or Jacksonville may not even take a quarterback with that pick. They could also go with pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

"In today's day and age, if you can't get Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan, and they might not be available for the next 10 or 15 years, then you have to adapt and build the roster and do what's best for the organization," Jaguars general manager David Caldwell told "And if a quarterback presents itself later in the draft, you take and develop him. Having a franchise guy makes the world a lot easier, though. It can erase a lot of mistakes you make. But if you force it, you can screw it up. I don't know if we're going to find that guy, but I hope we do."

Tennessee Titans (No. 11) -- The Titans aren't interested in a quarterback. They're sticking with Jake Locker for the time being. The scouting combine is the first time new coach Ken Whisenhunt will have live interaction with draft prospects. The Titans are intrigued by defensive players who can play in the 3-4 scheme. Mel Kiper Jr. had the Titans taking offensive tackle Taylor Lewan from Michigan with their pick.

The goal for all three teams is to try to pass the Colts as the best team in the division.