No decision on Indianapolis Colts' Mora _ yet

Monday, January 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Jim Mora is still coach of the Indianapolis Colts, for now.

One day after the Colts ended a disappointing 6-10 season, the coach, team president Bill Polian and owner Jim Irsay were expected to discuss Mora's future with the team.

But the Colts had little to say and offered no timetable for a decision.

``There will be no announcement today,'' Colts spokesman Craig Kelly said Monday. ``We'll tell you when we have an announcement.''

Polian declined comment following Sunday's game, and was not available Monday. Mora also declined comment Monday.

Colts players met at the team complex Monday morning and began leaving about 11:30 a.m. without speaking to the media. Agents of several Colts players, however, said their clients had not been informed of a decision _ either way.

There are already three coaching openings in the NFL _ San Diego, Minnesota and Carolina. San Diego fired Mike Riley last week, and Carolina fired George Seifert on Monday. Minnesota, despite playing its last regular-season game on Monday night against Baltimore, announced a buyout of Dennis Green's contract last week.

Mora has one year remaining on a five-year contract, and made it clear he wants to keep his job.

One of the key blows to the season was the loss of two-time rushing champion Edgerrin James, who tore a ligament in his left knee when he was tackled awkwardly late in a game at Kansas City on Oct. 25.

Another major problem was the poor performance of the defense. The Colts' defensive rankings have progressively worsened as they dropped from 15th in 1999 to 21st in 2000 and to 29th this year.

The Colts had six first-year starters in the lineup and also lost their best defensive player, Mike Peterson, for seven of the last eight weeks with a sprained right knee. Defensive end Chad Bratzke also was slowed by ankle and rib injuries much of the season.

Mora, known for his fierce loyalty to his staff, defended defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in an emotional news conference following Sunday's 29-10 win over Denver.

``Let me tell you something about Vic Fangio,'' Mora said following the game as he wiped away tears. ``He's as good a defensive coach as there is in football, as there is in the National Football League. ... Vic Fangio is as good as any of them.''

Fangio has spent 14 of 18 professional seasons coaching by Mora's side, including the last three as the Colts defensive coordinator.

To improve depth and run support, Polian brought in a handful of free agents _ defensive tackles Mike Wells and Christian Peter, linebackers Sean Harris and Ryan Phillips and cornerback Thomas Smith.

But Harris spent most of the season on injured reserve, Wells was limited by an arthritic shoulder that he said forced him to essentially play with one arm and Smith was waived during the season.

Players, however, have continually voiced their support for both Mora and Fangio.

``I felt that we grew some in every game, stopping the run, taking on blocks,'' linebacker Marcus Washington said Sunday. ``I don't know anything at this point, but if I had my way, everybody would come back next year.''

Mora has a 32-32 regular-season mark with the Colts and is 0-2 in the playoffs. He has a career record of 125-106, is 18th on the NFL's career victories list and is third among active coaches. Only Washington's Marty Schottenheimer and Atlanta's Dan Reeves have more wins.