In the minutes after last Sunday’s win over AFC South champion Houston, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano marveled at how the 2012 season has progressed for his team.
A relatively new coaching staff and a re-tooled roster, a team that has been forced to rely on it’s rookie draft class for most of the year to carry most of the weight, and yet here are the Colts heading into the AFC playoffs with an 11-5 record.
“We just catch fire. We said [the night before the Texans game] that mojo, the definition I had to look it up is, ‘magical spell.’ And we talked about the Midas touch, the uncanny ability to where everything you touch turns to gold,” Pagano said at the time.
“Then we said ‘Okay, what’s uncanny, supernatural.’ I don’t know if any of those things have taken place, there were some things that transpired out there [against Houston]. This team can go as far as they want to go.”
A few days later, after he had some to reflect on what he had said after the Texans game, he was asked again about the Colts’ ‘mojo’ as they prepare for Sunday’s AFC wild-card round game with the Baltimore Ravens.
“Well, like I said, we wanted to play our best football at the end of the year. You know, to win five out of the last six games, to go into that last football game and play a complete game in all three phases and have contributions from everybody,” Pagano related Wednesday.
“Guys that were known and guys that were unknown. It was just from a confidence standpoint, all those things. You want to go in on a high note. You want to go in with that mojo, with that momentum rolling. So I think we, obviously playing the way that we played last Sunday and weeks prior to that, get to go into this ballgame feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
That being said, he knows what it will take to defeat the Ravens.
After being an assistant coach in Baltimore from 2008 to 2011, the last year as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, Pagano is very aware that M&T Bank Stadium can be a tough place to play for opposing teams.
And he is very cognizant of the irony of who the Colts’ playoff opponent is.
“Nothing shocks me anymore. You know, the way everything has transpired to this point, nothing really shocks me anymore. I guess it was just meant to be that way, the way it all worked out. Everybody is excited to go play,” he said, adding that he hasn’t attempted to fully address the Indianapolis and Baltimore rivalry with a few of the Colts’ younger players.
“Really didn’t talk too much about it. What we’ve always said, from week one, it’s about us and it’s about the process. We’ve got another game fortunately because of the sacrifices that were made by everybody in this organization, all the coaches and all the players. They put everything they had into it to get to this point and we’ve got another football game. So we’re just going to stick to the process.”
n Injury list — Sitting out Wednesday’s workout were inside linebacker Pat Angerer (illness), defensive tackle Kellen Heard (illness), offensive guard Joe Reitz (concussion) and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (rest).
Running back Delone Carter (ankle), nose tackle Antonio Johnson (ankle), offensive tackle Winston Justice (biceps), defensive end Cory Redding (quad), center A.Q. Shipley (knee), and safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) all saw limited work.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (thumb), quarterback Andrew Luck (knee), center Samson Satele (ankle) and cornerback Teddy Williams (knee) all fully participated in the workout.
“Injury-wise, really no change. [As] when we talked last on Monday, Joe Reitz is still down with the concussion. He’s still going through standard protocol for the concussion stuff. But everybody else is as listed,” Pagano said.
“We had good meetings [Wednesday] morning. Like I said before, the energy, the excitement is there. You can feel it in the building obviously. It’s playoff time. Had a great walkthrough, a lot of good focus, all that kind of stuff. So I feel good where we’re at.”
n Arians’ future — San Diego and Cleveland officials are expected to be among the teams to talk to Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians about their vacant head coaching positions. But, according to NFL policy, they’ll have to wait for Indianapolis’ season to be over before any talks can take place.
“I don’t know if anybody has called. To this point it hasn’t been brought to my attention. But what I would say is obviously he’s earned any phone call, he’s earned that right. Let me just say this; we do not want to lose Bruce Arians. We know what he is and we know what he means to this organization and to this football team. So let me just say that first and foremost,” Pagano said on Monday.
“But you guys have seen him work over the last 12 weeks and you know him as a person and as a coach and I would just tell him that you’re getting, or if you’re interested in a guy you’re getting a guy that’s a great leader, a great football coach, a great man, and if that happened you’d be getting a great football coach. Again, certainly we don’t want to lose Bruce, we can’t lose Bruce. So we’ll just cross that bridge when it comes.”
When asked Wednesday what he would tell teams about Arians should he be asked, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck offered a succinct reply. “Terrible things. Terrible, terrible things [laughing],” Luck said. He wants Arians to remain in Indianapolis.