Just a year ago, the Indianapolis Colts were the laughingstock of the NFL, finishing dead last with a 2-14 record. Because of their horrible record, they were able to fire stoic head coach Jim Caldwell and take Andrew Luck with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Wasting little time in their head coaching search, the Colts hired Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to take over the top post. Now with a new head coach, the Colts looked to upgrade the offensive side of the ball by hiring Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to the same position–or so he thought.
This 2012 NFL season has been an extremely emotional one for the Indianapolis Colts and their fanbase. Just three games into his head coaching career, Pagano received news that would change his life forever. He was diagnosed with leukemia, causing him to take an indefinite leave of absence from the team. In most situations like this, teams would crawl into a hole and give up on the season. I could not imagine the pain those players felt knowing their new coach had to take a leave for such a serious situation. Instead, the Colts embraced #ChuckStrong, turning the season around within a blink of an eye.
I was in attendance for the Colts’ first home game since the Pagano diagnosis, feeling as if something special could arise from it. Between the banners, the applause when #ChuckStrong things were shown and just the overall feel of everything, you could tell the players were going to rally around their coach–and they did just that. The Colts came back and beat the Green Bay Packers in dramatic fashion, pushing their record to 2-2. To me, I thought it was Indianapolis’ one final push, thinking they would not be a contender or win more than two games after that.
I was wrong and Bruce Arians is a big reason why.
Although the Colts have been aided by a somewhat soft schedule, they sit at 7-4 and have great chance to reach the postseason this season. It’s hard to imagine that there is a head coach out there today doing a better job than Arians, considering he was just thrown into the fire under the most difficult of circumstances. Taking everything into consideration, he is easily the coach of the year in my book. Just making the Colts competitive should be enough to even consider Arians, but to be 6-2 on the season after all he and the team has been through? It’s a no-doubter.
Even though the Colts face the Houston Texans twice in the next five games, one would have to imagine they will finish the season with a winning record, which could be the only requirement to make the AFC Playoffs as a wild card.
Between #ChuckStrong, Arians and the rest of the Colts’ team, it’s hard to imagine a team that’s easier to root for.