Reports have been coming in the last few weeks that Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano would return to the sideline and lead the team starting Dec. 30 in the season finale against the Houston Texans. He already went through his third and final stage of treatment in his bout with leukemia and is now gaining more and more strength by the week.
I honestly don’t think he needs to return to the sidelines this year and should just sit out the remainder of the year. Now, don’t get me wrong, if he’s healthy enough to return to the job, he should, but he should do it from the coaches’ box and still keep his distance as far as coaching duties goes.
This team has been incredible rallying around interim coach Bruce Arians and have won eight of the 10 games without Pagano. They’re playing for their sick coach and using him as motivation to keep fighting. His presence and words have kept this team in games and fighting every week and they need to keep that motivation going. He’s been around the team more and more each week, but his input is very minimal.
I don’t see him returning in the season finale or during the playoffs as any added bonus. I think he should help with gameplans, coach during practices and speak to the team before the game, during halftime and after the game, but as far as him being on the sidelines leading every play, that should be out of the question.
Let’s state the obvious here: the last game with the Texans is going to be meaningless. Both teams will have their seeding cliched and will be playing backups not wanting to tip their hand with new plays for the postseason. Then, the Colts’ road to the Super Bowl will go through at least two road games.
Let’s look at the teams that will represent the AFC in the playoffs. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and the Texans all have clinched spots. The Patriots and Broncos are both outdoor stadiums and in cold weather cities. The other teams battling for spots are in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens looking like they’re going to win the division. Throw them in there with an outdoor cold weather setting.
The Colts are going to face two of those cold weather teams outdoors in their first two playoff games. Do you really think an ill Pagano needs to be outside in those brisk conditions? He’s trying to build strength and standing outside for three hours isn’t going to help.
If he does decide to be smart and stay off the sidelines for at least those two playoff games, then why bring him back for one game at the end of the season or possibly the AFC Championship Game if it’s indoors? It will just disrupt things and make things confusing.
People are afraid to say what they feel on this. Having Pagano around more and more will help, but I’d rather him stay away from the sidelines and taking on too much of a role and just get healthy and ready to coach next season. Afterall, I want him to dance at his daughter’s wedding someday. Rushing back is never a good thing to do. Let this team win for Chuck.