Colts fire offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton
By Mike Chappell
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 3, 2015) – Amid growing speculation that something had to happen in reaction to a season on the brink, the Indianapolis Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton Tuesday.
An underachieving, error-prone offense now is in the hands of associate head coach Rob Chudzinski.
“Through the first eight weeks of the season, we have felt our offense hasn’t performed at the consistent level that we need,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said in a statement released by the team. “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 Hamilton for his service to his team and wish him all the best.’’
Chudzinski’s initial challenge is daunting. The Colts (3-5) must snap a three-game losing streak against unbeaten Denver (7-0) Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Broncos’ defense ranks at the top of virtually every statistical category.
The decision to move on from Hamilton comes after his offense ranked No. 3 overall a year ago, and No. 1 in passing.
But it’s been a dramatically different group through the first half of the season. Entering the weekend, it ranked No. 17 in total yards, No. 26 in rushing, No. 10 in passing and tied for No. 20 in scoring.
“Rough watching it,’’ offered a former member of the offense.
The tipping point was Monday night’s 29-26 overtime loss at Carolina. While the Andrew Luck-led offense made a furious second-half comeback with 20 unanswered points, it was totally ineffective in the first half. It had 114 total yards and four first downs.
Tight end Dwayne Allen learned of the news when he received a news alert on his cell phone.
“A lot of people assume that the players are much more involved (in decisions),’’ he said on “The Dwayne Allen Show” Tuesday night. “We were not informed beforehand at all of the firing.”
“It comes as shocking news to me after we were able to rally last night and take it to overtime and just fell a couple of plays short.’’
Luck, who missed two games with an injury to his right shoulder, has been especially ineffective. He has completed just 54.6 percent of his passes and has a league-high 12 interceptions.
The Colts have failed to score a first-half touchdown in four of Luck’s six starts this season. In the first half against the Panthers, Luck completed 4-of-10 passes for 37 yards with one interception and a 11.2 passer rating.
Chudzinski is in his second year on Pagano’s staff. He was head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and has been an offensive coordinator with the Browns (2007-08) and Carolina Panthers (2011-12).
In 2011, the Panthers set club records for total yards (6,237) and first downs (345) behind rookie quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers scored 48 touchdowns that season after managing only 17 the previous year.
On Chudzinski’s watch, Newton became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards. He also set a league record for a quarterback with 14 rushing touchdowns.
Chudzinski’s offenses also have been effective on the ground. In ’11, the Panthers became the first team in league history with three 700-yard rushers.