INDIANAPOLIS – The stunning story of the 2012 season for the Indianapolis Colts spurred one final recognition for the man who manned the sidelines.
Chuck Pagano was in Los Angeles Wednesday at the ESPY Awards as a nominee for the Best Moment Award.
Pagano was one of four finalists for the Best Moment Award. He was nominated for his return to the sideline for the Houston finale on December 30.
Pagano had been absent from the team for 12 games while waging a successful fight against leukemia. He coached the Colts to a 28-16 victory in his return, and his appearance in front of a sold out Lucas Oil Stadium crowd prior to kickoff was one of the most dramatic moments in the club’s 29 years in Indianapolis.
Pagano was joined by Alex Morgan (who scored the winning goal against Canada in soccer in the Olympic semifinals), Andy Murray (winner of a gold medal in tennis at the Olympics) and Jack Hoffman (the seven-year old child battling brain cancer who was allowed to rush for a touchdown in the Nebraska spring game).
Hoffman won the honor.
Bruce Arians, now the head coach of Arizona, was on hand, too. Arians stepped in for Pagano and directed the Colts to a 9-3 mark.
Arians kept Pagano’s message fresh with the players daily and nailed down a playoff berth one week prior to Pagano’s return.
The Colts did not lose consecutive games in 2012, just the ninth time in 60 seasons the franchise earned that distinction.
Indianapolis jumped nine games in the won-loss record to match the third-best one-year turnaround in league history.
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano, ESPYs, indianapolis colts
Posted in Colts Blog
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Tags: Andrew Luck, arizona cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, branden albert, bruce arians, carson palmer, chuck fairbanks, daily clips, darrelle revis, darrius heyward-bey, ed reed, indianapolis colts, jack pardee, John Harbaugh, junior seau, new england patriots, new york jets, nnamdi asomugha, pat mcafee, philip rivers, San Francisco 49ers, sen'derrick marks, tennessee titans, Tom Telesco, warren moon
Posted in Colts Blog
Along with being one of the top rookie tight ends in the NFL, Coby Fleener has put his Stanford education into full use by writing a blog called “The End of the Line.”
Here is a link to the latest writing from Fleener and you can access his past blogs by following the link. In this week’s piece, Fleener talks about his first impressions of former Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and general manager Ryan Grigson
Fleener is an exceptional writer and even wrote a piece on Sports Illustrated’s Peter King last spring. In July, King had Fleener write an excerpt on the rookie symposium in King’s popular “Monday Morning Quarterback” piece.
Tags: bruce arians, Coby Fleener, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog
When Indianapolis visits San Francisco this year, it will be facing the defending NFC champions that feature a former Colt quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, as the head coach and a quarterback he tabbed, Colin Kaepernick, to get them past the NFC Championship hurdle the 49ers missed in 2011.
Harbaugh made a bold move in subbing quarterbacks late in the year, going from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.
The offense prospered and San Francisco came within seconds of winning Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco General Manager Trent Baalke spoke Thursday at the combine about the quarterback the Colts may face in 2013.
“He’s a young man that brought an awful lot to the table,” said Baalke of Kaepernick. “He came out of an offense what was not a “pro style” offense. (He was) just a guy our coaching staff really believed in.
“Coach Harbaugh has done an outstanding job with him, as has Geep Chryst and Greg Roman. He still learns, still developing.”
The NFL can be a copycat league and non-traditional offenses being run in college are seeping into the league. Will it result in more mobile quarterbacks on the landscape?
“I think teams are paying more attention to it obviously,” said Baalke. “I’m not going to try to guess what 31 other teams are doing, but he certainly puts a little bit more pressure on the defense.
“I think it stresses the defense. The more that person can do, the more stress it puts on. Peyton Manning puts a lot of stress on defenses, too. You’ve got to meet the skill sets of your quarterback. As long as you do that, I think you’ve got a chance.”
Kaepernick was one of the most explosive forces for the 49ers. It was an inspired draft pick by San Francisco, a franchise that historically had outstanding signal-callers.
“It’s a lot easier to sit up here after a young man’s had success and say you pictured that, but there’s a lot of unknowns when you draft anybody,” said Baalke. “You look at skills sets, you look at the kid as an individual, you look at the intangibles that they bring to the table and you try to see if they fit. He’s a young man who brought an awful lot to the table.
“From a personnel standpoint, it was just letting him develop and giving him an opportunity.”
A Colts-49ers match-up will feature two quarterbacks nimble on their feet and productive in an offense in Kaepernick and Andrew Luck. Hopefully, it will be the first meeting of two quarterbacks that have significant careers for years to come.
One veteran voice believes the future of the position will look more like Luck.
“I think you’re going to see more Andrew’s (than Kaepernick’s),” said Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians.
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Colin Kaepernick, indianapolis colts, San Francisco 49ers, Trent Baalke
Posted in Colts Blog
Twice this coming season, the Colts will see familiar faces on the road.
Indianapolis will see Bruce Arians in Arizona and they will see Tom Telesco when visiting San Diego.
Telesco served in a variety of personnel roles with the Colts starting in 1998, including last year as the chief aide under General Manager Ryan Grigson.
Telesco left after the 2012 season to become the general manager with the Chargers.
Telesco has risen to the top of his profession, and he remembers the steps that got him there.
“You’re looking at 15-plus years at working with Bill Polian and one year with Ryan, who ended up being the executive-of-the-year,” said Telesco. “Without that whole learning process, there’s no way I’m here without those two guys and the whole organization. Everything that I’ve learned has been from the Colts.”
Telesco saw Polian reconstruct the Colts into an NFL power. After a 3-13 1998 record, the Colts surged to 13-3, then won 115 times in regular-season play from 2000-09, the NFL’s winningest decade total.
At the combine last year, he was watching Grigson and Chuck Pagano take their initial steps as a duo. It was going to be a course where the pair was going to perform the same reconstructive roster process he saw Polian do years earlier.
Last year, he was closer to the action than in 1998. He saw the Colts jump nine games from 2-14 to 11-5 and make the playoffs.
Now, he is taking those same early footsteps with his new head coach, Mike McCoy.
“I like to refer back to watching Ryan (Grigson) as a first-time GM working with a first-time head coach with Chuck. I relied on that a lot, actually,” said Telesco. “Where the roster was, a lot had to be turned over in a short period of time. To watch those two guys do it, do it so recently and do it so well has been a huge help for me here already.”
Telesco said he started scouting coaches a while back, during his days with the Colts. He had a great feel for Arians, yet thought the best fit was with McCoy, who served last year as Denver’s offensive coordinator.
Telesco is a veteran of the business, yet he is finding out new things about himself as the top decision-maker. He is consensus-building in a new organization and has not given much thought to his working manner.
“I don’t know if I even have a style. I don’t really concern myself too much with that,” said Telesco. “You come into work each day and try to find the best players you can. Part of it is building chemistry with the team and the team process. Getting to know the coaches well, getting to know the scouts and the front office that’s all a part of team building for me.
“It’s trying to get to know everybody really well. That’s what we’re going through right now. I like to communicate with people. As far as my style, I can’t even answer that.”
Tags: bruce arians, Indianapolis Colts. Chuck Pagano, Mike McCoy, ryan grigson, Tom Telesco
Posted in Colts Blog
This time a year ago, Bruce Arians had no idea what 2013 would hold for him.
Today, he strolled into Lucas Oil Stadium, a stadium he inhabited in 2012, wearing a Cardinal red hat in the style made famous by Payne Stewart.
He strolled in as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, a post the 30-year coaching veteran would never gained had it not been for the work he did in Indianapolis last year.
“A career (laughs),” said Arians about what he got out of last year serving as an interim for Chuck Pagano. “Nothing will ever take away the memories from last year. Just everything that went on (was fun).
“The relationships with a great group of players were special. The rookie class was special. The whole thing that happened with Chuck Pagano and being the interim coach led to this opportunity. Basically this time last year, I was retired.”
Arians took over for Pagano after three games, earning a 9-3 record while Pagano battled leukemia. The unique story spawned off-shoot honors as Arians won some coach-of-the-year awards.
During his run last year, Arians said he never had felt more wanted than he did in being with the Colts last year. He said that feeling never will subside.
“There’s no doubt (that feeling will remain). It was meant to be,” said Arians of serving in Indianapolis last year. “Everything happens for a reason. It was meant for Kris and me to be in Indianapolis last year. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it was so special.”
Arians says life has not slowed down, estimating he’s been in Phoenix for only about 10 days with all his football-related travels.
The Colts will visit Arizona next season, meaning Arians’ old team will visit his new one.
“It will be fun,” said Arians. “Going back (to play a former team), it’s happened a couple of times through the years for me. There won’t be any losers that day.”
Arians took Harold Goodwin with him to Arizona. Goodwin had been the Colts’ offensive line coach last year. Arians added Tom Moore, too.
“Tom is going to help me run the offense. I’m going to call plays,” said Arians. “He’s going to help Harold Goodwin coordinate it and basically be my right-hand man. He’ll be a guy I can lean on. As I get torn back and forth between being offense and head coach, I know I have guys in there who have done it.”
Tags: bruce arians, harold goodwin, indianapolis colts, Payne Stewart, Tom Moore
Posted in Colts Blog
When Bruce Arians pulled into the Lucas Oil parking lot Thursday morning, he stayed in the car a bit longer than normal.
No, he wasn’t afraid to step back into a midwestern winter.
Instead, he wanted to cherish the fourth quarter comebacks and inspirational message from a fighting friend that took place in that stadium over the last six months.
“A lot of great memories that will never be forgotten, relationships, people, that happened in this building last year that are very special,” Arians said.
Arians admitted that it was going to take a whole lot to lure him away from his offensive coordinator position in Indianapolis.
He found that in Arizona and will welcome his former team to the Pacific time zone next fall as the two team’s meet in the 2013 regular season for the first time in four years.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano will oppose Arians for a few hours on that weekend before their friendship quickly resumes following the final whistle.
On Thursday, Arians talked about the message he gave the Colts when it was learned that Pagano would miss a significant portion of the season.
“The easy part was if Chuck is fighting that fight than why couldn’t we win games? Why couldn’t we fight?” Arians said.
“It was an amazing, emotional ride the entire time.”
The 11-5 record, and nine wins with Arians as interim head coach, led to a return to the playoffs for the Colts and Pagnao was able to return for a regular season finale win over the Houston Texans.
Arians continued to credit the veteran leadership around the Colts locker room for not straying the course in delivering a season that will be remembered for years to come around the NFL.
Yes, the highlights on the field were something that even Hollywood could not fathom but it’s the return of a friend that will stay with Arians forever.
“The biggest thing for last year was I watched a dear friend get healthy. Football was a backseat the whole time to watching Chuck fight that fight and win,” Arians said.
“We left that light on (in Pagano’s office) for a reason—to signify the fight that was going on, and we had to fight every single day to extend that season because we were going to play until he came back.”
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
Below are quotes from Indianapolis Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano on Bruce Arians being hired as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
General Manager Ryan Grigson
“We congratulate Bruce on this great opportunity with the Arizona Cardinals. The exceptional job he did this past season in keeping this team focused, combined with his long record of accomplishment, made him a very attractive candidate for a head coaching position and we congratulate the Cardinals on their good judgment in selecting him. BA did a remarkable job last season, filling in for his friend and head coach in a time of need. Without BA’s selflessness, leadership, football acumen, and competitive spirit, we couldn’t have had the season we did. We surely will miss BA’s presence as a coach and a friend but we’re delighted for him and we wish Bruce, Chris, and their entire family nothing but the best as they embark on their new journey.”
Head Coach Chuck Pagano
“We are excited for Bruce, Chris, and his entire family. This is an opportunity of a life time and I know he will do a great job. Arizona hired a great coach but a better man. What he did in my absence was truly remarkable. I am forever in debt to Bruce. He is and always will be a great friend and I wish him nothing but the best as he begins this new chapter in his life.”
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano, Colts, football, ryan grigson
Posted in Colts Blog
The last time the Colts traveled to Baltimore in the postseason, the year was 2006.
Memories are fond for Colts fans of an unusually warm January evening that was another chapter in the storied career of kicker Adam Vinatieri.
On a day when the Indianapolis offense struggled to generate touchdowns against the vaunted Ravens defense, it was Vinatieri’s right leg that carried Indianapolis into the AFC Championship.
“I remember then, just as now, they have a really good defense and we had a tough time getting it into the end zone that game,” Vinatieri said. “Fortunately, we made more field goals and had more attempts than they did. It turned out pretty good that day.”
Vinatieri was a perfect five-of-five on field goal attempts, accounting for all of the Colts points in Indianapolis 15-6 AFC Divisional victory.
In the opening frame, Vinatieri connected on field goals from 23 and 42 yards on the Colts first two possessions.
After Baltimore kicker Matt Stover hit a second quarter field goal, Vinatieri added a 51-yarder to end a 13-play drive and give the Colts a 9-3 halftime lead.
The second half began with Vinatieri converting a 48-yard field goal, pushing the Colts lead back to two possessions.
Stover would hit on a 51-yard field goal of his own early in the fourth quarter and Indianapolis would need one more clutch field goal from their potential Hall of Fame kicker to seal the victory.
That would come with 23 seconds remaining in the game as Vinatieri finished off a 13-play, 7:16 drive with a 35-yard field goal giving Indianapolis the 15-6 win.
These were not the Super Bowl winning kicks that Vinatieri is known for but without them, the Colts would have no been holding up the Lombardi Trophy three weeks later.
“In playoff games, you always have a lot of good teams playing. Games become a little tighter. Each individual play maybe means a little bit more and so every opportunity that you get, you have to make the best of it,” Vinatieri said.
On Wednesday, the 17-year veteran addressed his teammates on what playoff football is all about and what the Colts can expect in traveling to Baltimore this weekend.
Back on Jan. 13, 2007, only seven players currently on the Colts roster were even playing in the NFL. Vinatieri is trying to conjure up those same moments this weekend in delivering hopefully another historic playoff run.
“I think a lot of people outside of this building were surprised at where we’re at right now. I don’t think anybody in this room had any anticipations other than where we’re at right now,” Vinatieri said.
“There’s been some ups and downs and some crazy things that have happened this year. Chuck (Pagano) battling through the cancer thing and B.A. (Bruce Arians) stepping in. It’s been an interesting year but it’s been ever rewarding for us all. I think the book is not done being written yet.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, bruce arians, chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
Bruce Arians was back in his normal spot on Thursday afternoon.
There was the Colts offensive coordinator positioned just inside the Colts locker room as the media talked with him and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Arians had been handling the head coaching media requirements for the past 12 weeks but he was back where he wanted to be on Thursday.
This week has not necessarily been more relaxed for Arians as come Sunday he will still be the under the watchful eye of head coach Chuck Pagano when calling the offensive plays.
“Anytime you’re calling plays, there’s a bigger bulls eye on your back, I’ve learned that through the years,” Arians said. “The game plan has always been the biggest part of the job. The other part is really kind of easy, but the game planning part takes all the time. Playing a team twice in three weeks is really difficult.”
Returning back to his offensive coordinator position full-time, Arians is looking forward to spending a little more time on the part of the game that made him the first phone call Pagano made upon being hired back in January.
“It’s easier now, there’s no doubt about that and it’s fun,” Arians said of the focus on the play calling. “It’s fun again to have Chuck (Pagano) back in the building and doing his thing.”
Arians and the offensive staff is preparing for the Texans defense again after a one-week break from assessing Houston film. Not much has changed from a schematic standpoint Arians said, with the focus remaining in the trenches with defensive tackle Antonio Smith and defensive end J.J. Watt.
“We’ve got to block 94 (Smith) and 99 (Watt), they’re the outstanding players. Their front is as good as anybody we’ve played and their secondary is good,” Arians said.
“Situationally, on third down and in the red zone, we failed a couple times in the red zone against them and fumbled the ball and got a touchdown called back that would have been huge points in that game. We had it to a six-point game in the fourth quarter and couldn’t pull this one out. Hopefully we’ll have that there and win it this time.”
Come Sunday, Arians will once again find himself down on the field sending in plays to quarterback Andrew Luck.
The title of interim head coach is gone and the red challenge flag will be missing from his back pocket, two things that make Arians very happy.
How much will Arians miss that red flag?
“That’s the biggest thing I’m glad to get rid of,” Arians said with a smile.
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog