To say it’s been a topsy-turvy year for the Indianapolis Colts would be an understatement. The very first day of 2012 brought to an end one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Two months later, Colts fans were forced to say goodbye to an emotional Peyton Manning, who was released from the team after 14 years, four MVP honors, and a Super Bowl victory.
With some space freed up both financially and personnel-wise, the Colts, to no one’s surprise, used their No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Overall, the decision appeared to be well received as the fan base collectively prepared for the inevitable growing pains that come with throwing a rookie right into the lion’s den. And when the Colts stumbled in the opening weeks of the season, it appeared the road back to prominence was indeed going to be a long one.
But then it got worse. First-year head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia and abruptly left the team to begin treatment. Equipped with not only a brand new quarterback, but a whole lot of fresh faces on the Colts roster, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stepped in to take over the reins. Despite boasting over 30 years of coaching experience, Arians had never held a head coaching position, but you wouldn’t know it based on his near-flawless handling of a rather difficult situation.
The squad won nine of 12 games under Arians, including a marquee victory over Green Bay on Oct. 7 that gave the Colts just the boost they needed. Flash forward to Dec. 23 when an improbable playoff spot was clinched with a messy, yet substantial, 20-13 win at Kansas City. The victory fans may remember most, however, was the Nov. 4 home contest against Miami. Following the win, Pagano, who was in attendance for the game, met with the team in the locker room and delivered a speech that surely stayed in the minds of players and coaches.
The clip is simply a taste of the kind of coach and person Pagano is and there’s no question his positive spirit has resonated with all members of the organization throughout the season. And now, just in time for the postseason, the Colts announced Pagano is in remission and will be returning to the sidelines of Lucas Oil Stadium for the regular-season finale against the division-leading Houston Texans. Seats are still available so browse the marketplace for Indianapolis Colts tickets for the chance to welcome back Pagano in person and send the squad into the playoffs in style.
In addition to the coaching staff, much credit is due to Luck as well for an essentially seamless transition from college to the pros. Sure, he’s been less –than-perfect, but stats aside, his quality performances far exceed the various bumps in the road. With one game remaining in the regular season, Luck has already set new rookie records for total yards (4,183), single-game yards (433), and attempts (599), and with 325 completions, he is just 29 away from surpassing the record set by St. Louis Rams quarterback, Sam Bradford. Add to that seven game-winning drives and six games with 300-plus yards passing, and you’ve got yourself a starting quarterback Colts fans could have only dreamed about one year ago.