For Indianapolis Colts Chuck Pagano comes this great bit of news, via Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star:
#colts Chuck Pagano was been medically cleared to return to coaching duties, according to his doctor.
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 20, 2012
After dealing with leukemia that threatened his livelihood and life, Chuck Pagano returning to the team this season is nothing short of remarkable. But for the Indianapolis Colts, this is all just kind of awkward. The team has been beating to offensive-coordinator-turned-interim head-coach Bruce Arians’ drum for a while now, amassing a record of 8-3 under his supervision and all but assuring themselves a playoff berth at 9-5 with two games to go (at Kansas City, vs. Houston).
Then again, this is Chuck Pagano’s team through and through – it’s his system that was installed in training camp, his choice of players to compile for the opening day roster, his offensive and defensive philosophies. Arians wouldn’t and didn’t steamroll the tone Pagano set in favor of his own preference, if only for the sake of continuity and, more importantly, not trying to oust the coach with leukemia. And even though Pagano only started 1-2, it was Andrew Luck’s first few NFL games and the first live implementation of the franchise overhaul.
As for when Pagano will return to coaching exactly, that’s up to him and the team. But it’s unlikely that he’d return in any role other than head coach.
But we’re curious to see what happens to Pagano in the long run. If the Colts regress next season, missing the playoffs and completely reversing this upward trajectory, that nagging question – Arians or Pagano – will continue to lurk. Though Arians’ sample-size is small, and largely built on the momentum of the “Do it for Pagano” mantra, it’s hard to completely discount his success.
We’d say it’s difficult to fire a coach a year after surviving cancer, but an NFL pity party has quite the short shelf life. Just look at Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli of the Kansas City Chiefs, who were on the chopping block before Jovan Belcher committed suicide in their presence. It seemed unfathomable then that Kansas City could compound personal tragedy with a professional canning. But fast forward to a few weeks later and that sentiment has largely dissipated as the waiting game has resurfaced. Or Andy Reid, whose own son died of a heroin overdose. Even we (fine, I) callously laid the hammer down on his impending doom.
For Pagano’s sake, for the Colts’ sake, we hope Indianapolis keeps winning. Because an RGIII-Andrew Luck Super Bowl, well that would just be really cool.