News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 8, 2013

Colts moving on to the off season

Pagano pleased with team’s growth this season

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Moving on. That’s the immediate plans for the Indianapolis Colts as they head into the off season.

Indianapolis saw the 2012 season come to an end with a 24-9 AFC wild-card playoff loss to Baltimore Sunday.

As disappointing as the outcome was, first-year head coach Chuck Pagano likes how far his team has come ever since he took over the reins of the franchise nearly a year ago.

Pagano took over a 2-14 team that didn’t make the post-season. The Colts, though, end the year with an 11-6 overall mark and were the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs.

“I’m really, really proud of this football team, this coaching staff, this organization,” Pagano said. “Everybody involved with what this team was able to accomplish this year. We couldn’t have done it without the support of everybody in this organization, from top to bottom. What they overcame from day one. All the turnover. All the change.”

“They said that there was no way that certain things could be achieved,” the Indianapolis coach said Monday during his end-of-season news conference.  

“From day one to the very last day, this team has overcome and dealt with adversity. What they’ve done on the football field, what we asked them to do. They never batted a lash. We set our expectations very high. We set our goals high. We were never were going to use the R-word [rebuilding]. We talked about re-loading. We talked about next man up. We talked about process. We talked about a lot of things. My hat’s off to our veteran leadership. We certainly couldn’t have accomplished what we accomplished this season without them. They did a tremendous job.”

After a day of reflection, reviewing the loss to the Ravens, the Colts are now looking forward to the 2013 season.

“We understand that anytime you make the turnaround that we made and you go 11-5, that the bar has now got to be set even higher. We talked about this is the time of the year to now get away, relax, rest up, re-charge, get with your families. Reunite, so to speak, and then come back to work ready to go,” Pagano said.

“We’ve got to raise the bar and we’re going to raise the expectations because we know now that they’re going to be, obviously, much higher because of the success that we had this year. Which is fine. That is why we got into this business. That is why we coach and that is why we play. And that is to put ourselves into these type of situations and to give ourselves a chance to reach our ultimate goal. Our goals haven’t changed.”

Now the question is whether the Colts can repeat or improve on their 2012 successes.

“We just know that the expectations are going to be higher. We encouraged everybody to get away from it for awhile. But then find one or two things that you can really hone in on in the offseason to get better at. The foundation has been laid. It’s a solid foundation and its one that we can build on. I am feel good about the future. I feel like we have a bright, bright future ahead of us for many years to come,” the Indianapolis coach said.

Arians hospitalized, coming home — Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was rushed to a Baltimore-area hospital a few hours before Sunday’s game with the Ravens.

While doctors said that Arians is in no danger and that his medical condition is not a serious one, he was not allowed to coach or to be at the game and was kept under observation overnight. He was due to return to Indianapolis via team owner Jim Irsay’s private plane sometime Monday evening.

“Every test that they ran on Bruce, and obviously they put him through a battery of tests A to Z as they would do to any of us, all have been negative. He is doing well. Whatever he is dealing with, they would have let him come home early [Monday] morning but whatever he is dealing with has affected his blood pressure. And they [weren’t] going to release him until they kind of get the blood pressure under control,” Pagano said.

As for the chances of losing Arians to another National Football League team as a head coaching candidate, Indianapolis officials are going to try and keep him on the coaching staff. However, they know that it won’t be easy.

“We do not want to lose Bruce Arians. We do not want to lose Bruce. He is so valuable to this organization and what he means to this organization and what he’s done. You want the best for Bruce. I want the best for Bruce,” the Colts coach said.

“I want the best for his family. I want him to achieve and reach any goals that he has for himself throughout his coaching years, things like that. It’s a hard spot but again we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Again, people are going to go after good people and this is just a byproduct of the success that we’ve had here.”

Pagano was asked about rookie quarterback Andrew Luck’s comments, said jokingly, that if another team contacted him for a recommendation on Arians, he would say terrible things.

“We talked about that, last time putting the [halt] on him, put the kibosh on him. We won’t get into those right now. We will just use social media. We will get on the Internet. Just like they do around draft time with all the players, all the baggage starts to come out. We won’t do it here. We will just wait until later this evening, the next couple of weeks and start putting all that stuff out if it get serious,” the coach laughed.