AFC Notes: Pagano, Manning, Jets

A look around the AFC:

  • One of the reasons for the Colts’ offensive decline this season is head coach Chuck Pagano‘s mentality, a source told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Pagano prefers a run-first, ball-control attack rather than a high-flying approach – a 180 in attitude for a team that led the NFL in passing yards in 2014. With Indianapolis having been without quarterback Andrew Luck for a large chunk of the year, it’s hard to fault Pagano for shying away from the passing game. However, his ground-and-pound method hasn’t worked, as Indy is tied for 30th in both rushing yards (1,211) and per-carry average (3.6). The Colts have also been dismal through the air, coming in at 31st in yards per attempt (6.4) and 29th in rating (77.6).
  • Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak took in Peyton Manning‘s workout Saturday and subsequently offered some encouraging words on his injured quarterback. “It went really well,” Kubiak said, per Mike Klis of 9News. “He had a good week, worked really hard this morning. Well, he worked every morning, but worked out really hard this morning conditioning-wise and throwing-wise.” Manning, who hasn’t played since mid-November because of a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot, will miss the Broncos’ key game Monday against Cincinnati. There’s a small chance he could be healthy enough to play in Denver’s regular-season finale on Jan. 3. Of course, even if the 39-year-old is ready to come back by then or during the playoffs, there’s no guarantee he’ll take the starting job back from Brock Osweiler.
  • The Jets will have important decisions to make over the next couple offseasons regarding three members of their dominant defensive line. Both Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison are free agents at the end of the season, and Sheldon Richardson‘s contract is up after the 2016 campaign. Don’t be surprised if all three are Jets for at least one more year, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes. Cimini expects Wilkerson to get the franchise tag, while he believes the team could lock up Harrison to a long-term deal worth roughly $4.5MM per annum. If the Jets enable Harrison to hit the open market, he’s likely to head elsewhere. Richardson has been mentioned in the past as a trade candidate, but the Jets are unlikely to move him because of his off-field legal issues. He could start next season suspended for as many as six games, which would significantly damage his trade value and deter the Jets from dealing him.
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