So let me get this straight…you’re in your first season as offensive coordinator for team that went 2-14 in 2011, and that has a rookie quarterback to go along with more new faces than the local maternity ward. To top that off, your boss–the head coach–gets diagnosed with leukemia and is sidelined for the better part of the season, suddenly promoting you to interim head coach
And how do you respond?
By coaching the team to a 9-3 record while you have the reigns and leading them to the playoffs.
No, ESPN didn’t suddenly pull Playmakers back out of the can, this is the real life story of the 2012 Indianapolis Colts, and their head coach and offensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians.
In the inspiration department, Coach Pagano is unparalleled this season. The way he inspired his team through his fight against a potentially deadly disease, with both words and spirit, helped to carry the Colts forward and bound them together into one of the tightest-knit groups in the NFL.
But Bruce Arians has performed miracles on the field with the Colts in his 12-week stint.
Nobody expected the Colts to do much of anything this season. New head coach. New offensive coordinator. New defensive coordinator, and almost a completely new staff. Not to mention a rookie quarterback playing in the shadow of the legendary Peyton Manning.
Not really scripted for success.
But Arians stepped in and not only installed his offense, but had them running it pretty darn well. Rookie QB Andrew Luck has made his share of mistakes, but has also led the Colts to last minute victories time and time again while on his way to breaking Cam Newton‘s rookie passing records.
Arians also helped keep this team grounded at a time when they could have just thrown in the towel. He stepped in when Pagano had to step back, and ran this team seamlessly and with more success than most could have imagined.
As a head coach Arians is worth his weight in gold, and that’s most likely what he’ll command a lot of next season as a number of teams begin their head coach searches. If you ask me, the Colts would be foolish to let him go.
Make no mistake, this is Chuck Pagano’s team. He inspires them. He leads them. His message is what helped to keep strength flowing in the Indianapolis locker room.
But Bruce Arians should run away with NFL Coach of the Year. Without him, the Colts are probably still just an afterthought with a pretty good rookie quarterback, not a playoff team that nobody wants to face.