Safety Darius Butler, one of their longest-tenured defenders, says his expectations remain the same — whether Luck is ailing or Pagano is likely approaching his last chance to right his leaking defensive ship.
“I think me, being around as long as I have — nine years now — you see a lot of guys in and out — coaches, management, you see a lot of things change,” says Butler. “Keep working, and that’s really the motto not only for our locker room, but most around this league.”
As one of the few Grigson-Pagano holdovers re-signed by Ballard this offseason, Butler is thrilled his coach was retained after consecutive campaigns ending short of the postseason for the first time since before Peyton Manning and Bill Polian led the franchise. Prior to back-to-back 8-8 finishes and missing the playoffs, Pagano guided 11-5 clubs in his first three seasons, culminating in the Colts getting blown out by the Patriots in the 2014 AFC title game.
“They know we’ll run through a wall for them. And the guys that are here, they’re learning what kind of motivator he is, the coach he is,” he says. “And, especially for me, on the defensive side of the ball, the defensive backs, that’s been his specialty throughout the years, so he’s been a little more hands-on with us and we’re looking forward to that paying dividends come September.”