INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts had one of the greatest one-season turnarounds in NFL history in 2012 going from 2-14 to 11-5.
The nine-game jump from 2011 tied for the third-best improvement in league history.
It was accomplished with a new general manager and head coach, along with an interim leader when Chuck Pagano was forced to be absent while battling leukemia.
The performance by Indianapolis has resulted in a few post-season awards. Ryan Grigson has been selected by Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers Association as the NFL Executive of the Year.
Pagano and interim head coach Bruce Arians have been chosen as co-winners of the AFC Coach-of-the-Year by the Committee of 101 in Kansas City, and they will be honored at the prestigious 101 Awards gala in March. Additionally, they have been selected as winners of the 24th Greasy Neale Professional Coach-of-the-Year Award from the Maxwell Football Club.
Arians himself was cited by Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers Association as the NFL Coach-of-the-Year and the Assistant Coach-of-the-Year.
Grigson joined the Colts last January and crafted a roster that blended a small number of returning veterans with seasoned and rookie newcomers. Well more than half of the roster that ended the season was comprised of players with no more than three years of experience. There were nine rookies and 13 players on injured reserve as the Colts ended the year.
Grigson succeeded Bill Polian in Indianapolis, and Polian was a past winner of the award. Grigson brought players from the Canadian League, the UFL, the AFL and the IFL to Indianapolis. One player,
Pagano was in his first season as head coach, but had to leave the squad for 12 games. Arians daily perpetuated the message of his dear friend Pagano. After each practice, the team broke with the chant, “1-2-3, Chuck,” and Arians requested the lights be left on in Pagano’s office until he could return.
Pagano kept in electronic contact with players and Arians during his absence. He visited the team before and after a 23-20 home win over Miami and congratulated his troops on their commitment.
Arians was 9-3 in subbing for Pagano, tying the NFL mark for wins by an interim leader. Arians returned the reins to Pagano for the December 30 finale against Houston.
The work both men performed led to them being named co-winners 101 Award. This prominent group has saluted NFL leaders for the past 42 years, and a number of Colts have been honored, including individuals such as Ron Meyer (1987), Jim Harbaugh (1995), Jim Mora (1999), Peyton Manning (1999, 2003-05, 2008-09), Tony Dungy (2005),
Pagano and Arians will be honored in a banquet in Kansas City on Saturday, March 2.
The tandem will be honored with the Greasy Neale Award from the Maxwell Football Club. The award presentation will take place at the annual gala on Friday, March 1 in Atlantic City.
Arians, additionally, has been named the NFL Coach-of-the-Year and the NFL Assistant Coach-of- the-Year by the PFW/PFWA. The head coaching award dates back to 1968, and Arians joins Don Shula (1968) and Ted Marchibroda (1975) as Colts coaches to gain the honor. He is the first Colts assistant to win the honor that has been presented since 1993, and he is the first individual ever to win both awards in the same year.
Arians and Pagano were able to lead the Colts through a season without consecutive losses, an accomplishment done just nine times in franchise history.
Allen set the club seasonal tight end rookie record with 45 receptions. He had 521 reception yards and three touchdowns while starting 16 games.
Hilton had 50 receptions for 861 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. Hilton set the club rookie record with five 100-plus yardage games. He also was named to the publication’s rookie squad as the punt returner. Hilton had an 11.5 average on 26 returns. He became the first Colts player ever with a punt return and reception for a touchdown in the team’s 20-13 victory over Buffalo on November 25.
Allen and Hilton were third-round picks of the Colts in 2012.