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UNCHANGED ARIANS

Posted Oct 9, 2012

After 20 years as an NFL assistant coach, Bruce Arians has another title to his name but he is the still the same person that has been the Colts’ offensive coordinator since January.

INDIANAPOLIS – His role simply has expanded.

 

While Bruce Arians has added the “interim head coaching” tag to his offensive coordinator title, he has made it clear that Head Coach Chuck Pagano is still with this Colts team.

 

Arians texted Pagano just that on Sunday morning before his staff and players delivered with a 30-27 victory over Green Bay.

 

Trying to keep things as normal as possible was a focal point for Arians and the other coaches this past week.  It was not an easy task, given the close working and professional nature the coaching staff has with Pagano, who is away from the team while battling leukemia.

 

Quarterback Andrew Luck has one of the closest relationships with Arians of anyone on the Colts roster.  Previously, Luck has known Arians as a coordinator, and he hardly saw any change out of him last week as the club fought Green Bay.

 

“Beyond him talking a few extra minutes at the team meeting, or before the game, I didn’t notice a different dynamic,” Luck said.  “I think he does a great job and he did a great job, and he will continue to do a great job.  I guess he is the ‘Next Man Up,’ which he has been preaching to us all through training camp.”

 

Perhaps the biggest “football” question that Arians has been faced with in the past week is his interaction with the defensive unit.

 

Outside of a six-year stint as head coach at Temple University (1983-1988), Arians strictly has been on the offensive side of the ball.

 

Colts defenders joked it was a little unusual hearing Arians cheer at practice last week when the defense was making plays.

 

“Normally, B.A. is on the offensive side of the ball talking trash,” safety Antoine Bethea said with a laugh.  “But this week he kind of stepped back from that.  He’s already a leader but since Chuck’s been out, he’s stepped in and has done a great job for us.”

 

Before joining forces in Indianapolis, Arians (offensive coordinator) and Pagano (defensive backs) crossed paths for three seasons (2001-03) with the Cleveland Browns.

 

This is in no way how Arians wanted to get his first crack at an NFL head coaching job.  It was not the circumstance he envisioned, but he knows that he must carry out the ‘Next Man Up’ mantra his fellow coaches have wanted their players to adopt.

 

There was Arians on Sunday waiving a pink towel in an effort to ignite the Colts’ crowd as the Indianapolis defense needed one final stop against Green Bay.

 

It is not something his players were used to seeing, but then again Arians is just expanding his role.

 

“When I first met Bruce, you think of an offensive coordinator and you don’t really expect him to be a (head) coach,” punter Pat McAfee said.  “But he’s come in and he’s rallied the troops, and he’s kept our focus in line.

 

“He’s done an amazing job and he’s a great guy, too.  He kept it real with us.  He was emotional about what happened with Chuck.  He didn’t try to hide it.  He didn’t try and come off as some tough guy.  He said, ‘Listen, here’s the deal.  This is a sad situation, but we got to do this together.’  He handled the situation well, treated us like men and kind of put a lot of responsibility on us to come out and perform.”

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