A happy and healthy Chuck Pagano enjoyed the NFL combine this past week. It’s been an unfathomable first year for the Indianapolis Colts head coach, who battled leukemia in his first year but saw his team wildly exceed expectations. Chuck Pagano joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis with JMV to discuss the motivation he drew from his team while battling leukemia, Bruce Arians departing for Arizona, watching his former team win the Super Bowl, Andrew Luck’s rookie year and the addition of a new offensive coordinator.
How much motivation did you get from the people who were backing you as you struggled with the health issues?
“That’s the only reason I’m here, between this city, this state, this football team, this organization. Just watching our team play was enough inspiration to get anybody through anything. And certainly I credit everybody in my family. Top down, it was incredible.”
How bittersweet was it to see Bruce Arians go to Arizona?
“It was very much so. You don’t want to lose anybody. … First off, the job that he did. I felt, number one, very fortunate when I got this job to be able to get a guy like Bruce. … Then the job that he did was just obviously, it made history, so to speak. You don’t want to lose anybody, but at the same time, well deserved.”
What was it like watching your former team, the Baltimore Ravens, win the Super Bowl?
“Not surprised. They’ve done a great job there and they’ve been very, very close. I had a great four years there, my family and I, and had built some tremendous relationships with the people in the organization and certainly the players. And they got hot. They got Ray back at the right time; they got hot. The quarterback got hot and started playing tremendous. … We wanted to be there, we will be there at some point during our tenure here, but I was happy for all those guys.”
How much fun was it to watch Andrew Luck as a rookie quarterback?
“I think probably as fun or more than anybody else had watching him. … He was just tremendous week-in and week-out. Andrew’s his own worst critic. He’d be the first to tell you … if something bad happened and it ended up in a turnover, he’d be the first one to tell you exactly what went wrong and why it happened. But then he’s not hard enough on himself to where he can’t come back and make a play and rectify things. For a rookie to come in here and take every single snap … you can go on and on and on, but he wouldn’t know any of those numbers. That’s the best thing about him.”
What will the offense be like with new coordinator Pep Hamilton?
“You’re going to see, again, a physical, downhill run game. He’s just like we were last year. I know we got behind in some ball games and had to throw it a little bit more than you’d like to. … You’ve got to be able to run the ball and stop the run. We’re going to knock people off the line of scrimmage and be able to run the football and get ourselves into manageable third-down situations and try to stay out of those third-and-eight, third-and-ten-plus plays. … Coming from a west coast system and operating under those type of things, there’ll be some things built in, I’m sure, that might help Andrew at the end of the day.”