The Indianapolis Colts enter their first full season under head coach Chuck Pagano. After last week’s preseason beat down by the Buffalo Bills, the one avoided question is being begged to be asked; are the Colts worse under Chuck Pagano? If you didn’t know already, much of last season was coached by offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians. Head coach Chuck Pagano was gone most of the season due to cancer treatment. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Chuck Pagano. I admire his will to fight cancer and he is a very kind individual. However, many people are wondering if there’s going to be a drop off this season because the loss of Bruce Arian’s leadership and coaching (he is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.)
Before he went into cancer treatment, the Colts were 1-2. On December 24, when Pagano returned, the Colts had risen to 10-4. So would the Colts have rebounded from that 1-2 record under Pagano? Well it’s important to look at the numbers. Pagano handles defense while Arians ran the offense. In the first game of the season the Colts let up 41 points. That’s not good for a defensive specialist like Pagano. But the next two games they only let up 20 and 21 points respectively. The facts show the first game was just a feeling out process. Sure the Colts gave up 41 points, but it was Pagano and the Colts’ first game. Pagano passes his early test.
While Pagano was in cancer treatment, the Colt’s offense ran smoothly. It did have its bumps in terms of the running game and turnovers, do to the rookie quarterback, but it functioned about as well as it could have. The defense, however, suffered. Throughout Pagano’s absence the Colts let up scores such as 27 points (twice), 29 points, 35 points and 59 points. The games where the defense did play well were directly after Pagano went into treatment and the defense was motivated to play hard for their head coach. Then when the defense started to slip, Pagano made an appearance in the team locker room and the defense stepped up its game once again. Clearly Pagano has an impact on the defense and his players. Pagano wins again.
What about last week against the Bills? The defense was completely dismantled. Now the argument here is that even though Bruce Arians ran the offense last season, the Colts suffered last week without his leadership. This is not the case. Pagano did the best he could with the players he had. He coached the defense well but they still let up 44 points. The finger needs to be pointed at the management. The defense’s real weakness was glaring when the second and third team was in. The Colts management needs to do a better job with depth on the defensive side of the ball.
If the defense is fine with Pagano present, the only concern left is the offense. Arians is a top offensive coordinator. But the players on the Colts offense have only improved. The Colts have added Donald Thomas, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Gosder Cherilus. Those players alone should help the Colts put up a few extra points a game. The Colts also added Andrew Luck‘s former offensive coordinator from Stanford. The offense is going into capable hands. Even without Arians, the offense will get better. Andrew Luck is improving and better personnel is coming in.
Pagano is going to lead this team just as Arian’s would. He will probably do better. He will get a grip on that atrocious defense from a week ago. His leadership is also just what the Colts need. He is in complete control and we could very well see this team in the Super Bowl in just a few years.