INDIANAPOLIS — As much as Bruce Arians is enjoying leading the Indianapolis Colts as the team’s interim coach, he has made it clear where his loyalties lie.
Arians, who has led the Colts to a 7-4 record heading into Sunday’s game at Detroit, continues to give all credit for the team’s unexpected run of success this season to his boss, coach Chuck Pagano.
Indianapolis was expected to flounder in the wake of so many on-and-off field changes. Yet the Colts find themselves in strong contention for an AFC wild-card berth.
Pagano has been away from the team, in terms of being an every-day presence, since Oct. 1 when he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He has been undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments since then.
The goal, according to Arians, is to have Pagano back on the sidelines for the Colts’ Dec. 30 regular-season home finale with AFC South rival Houston.
If that goal is met, Pagano will be back fully-in-charge of the team in time for a potential post-season run.
“If he comes back, he’ll be the head coach and taking back over,” Arians said.
Pagano has been in attendance for two home games – Miami and Buffalo -- since taking his leave of absence, sitting with team owner Jim Irsay in his Lucas Oil Stadium suite. The Colts have won both of those matchups.
He has also remained involved by working from his home by breaking down practice and game tapes. Pagano also keeps in touch with the Colts’ coaching staff and players.
“[The players] love Chuck and what he means and what he stands for. He’s in communication with the guys all the time texting,” Arians said.
“I kind of preach it every week so we’re never going to forget that. That’s the one thing we want to do and I think that’s what’s bonded our football team.”