Should Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano Share Coach of the Year?
No one could have expected (or even scripted) the season that the Indianapolis Colts went through this year. It’s also possible to say that no coaching staff in NFL history has endured such a shake-up, as this season’s Colts franchise. Not only did the team do a total house-cleaning prior to this year, they literally had to reload from the bottom to the top. Throughout all of the tough times and turmoil, this rookie coaching staff for the Indianapolis Colts continued to push on, towards a record-breaking season.
The Colts had a record of 1-2, and were in the midst of a bye week, when the new about Chuck Pagano was made public. When the team returned from the bye week, they were shocked to learn that their head coach had been diagnosed with leukemia, and was going to be away from the team for an undetermined amount of time. Amidst the uncertainty, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians picked up the interim head coaching position, and helped the team to stand tall and to step up. With Pagano in their minds and hearts, the Indianapolis Colts finished with a 11-5 record, the second-greatest single season turnaround in league history.
Pagano was strong enough to battle his illness, and even returned to the team for the final game of the regular season. The Colts closed out their dynamic comeback regular season with a home win against the AFC South champion Houston Texans. The game mattered little to the Colts in terms of playoff seeding, as they had already locked up their spot. The Texans were fighting for a number one seed, and the loss dropped Houston down to the third spot in the AFC Playoffs.
There has never been a shared Coach of the Year awarded in the NFL, but the success of the Colts rests on the head of both coaches. Pagano and Arians played as an inspirational tag team this season, helping to lead Indianapolis back to the postseason. When this season began, no one would have thought that Pagano and Arians may only get one year together, but now Arians has a good chance of becoming a head coach in his own right. These two men did more than anyone expected (with a team that no one believed in), and did it in amazing fashion.