INDIANAPOLIS –Bruce Arians will be doing what he loves on Sunday – calling plays as the team he works for tries to topple an opponent.
Arians has out-witted a few opponents in his 20 years in the NFL. For the past 12 games, though, he also served as interim coach. He helped direct the Colts to a 9-3 record that has put them at 10-5 and into the playoffs.
On Monday at his return, Head Coach Chuck Pagano took a moment to cite Arians for his outstanding performance.
"What a masterful, masterful job you did, Bruce. You carried the torch and all you went out and did was win nine ballgames," said Pagano. "You got us our 10th win yesterday, and you got us into the playoffs. You did it with dignity, and you did it with class. You're everything that I always knew you were, and more."
Arians became the third NFL interim coach to reach nine victories, joining Hamp Pool (Rams, 1952) and Wally Lemm (Oilers, 1961). General Manager Ryan Grigson was grateful for Arians' work, too.
"Bruce is the best example of "Next Man Up" I've ever seen," said Grigson. "He stepped in, carried the torch for Chuck and led this team in an extraordinary way without ever losing Chuck's message in the process. He then hands the torch right back to Chuck with such selflessness and loyalty.
"It is inspiring. In a world where we see constant examples of, 'Me, me, me,' on the TV, in print or in the social media, Bruce was a shining example not only from a team aspect but from a true human aspect on how to conduct oneself despite some really tough circumstances."
Arians kept Pagano's message fresh with the players, having them work the process and seeing them perform to the "no quit" directive of their absent leader. He did it in his own way.
"I believe those of us around here who witnessed his example are better people because of it," said Grigson. "I know I am a better human being just being around BA (Arians) this season and seeing how selfless he was in this whole thing.
"He never thought about himself one time, he carried the torch for his buddy and never let this team forget him one day while he was gone. His example to everyone was powerful."
Coach of the Year voting will come in the next week or so. Arians could be a front-runner among the voters. He certainly would be if Pagano had the chance.
"He's got my vote," said Pagano on Friday.
COLTS FANS PLEASE GRIGSON – Sunday's game with Houston is the 87th consecutive sellout for the Colts and the 121st in the last 122 games.
There never has been a game in Lucas Oil Stadium that has not been a sellout, and this is the ninth straight season all games have been sold out.
The Colts are 6-1, and Grigson notes the help boisterous home crowds have provided.
"A heartfelt thank you to all our loyal fans," said Grigson. "In many ways, without their support this season on and off the field we wouldn't be sitting where we are, period. Their support for Chuck was just out of this world and no doubt aided his recovery in a big way.
"I know that when this team takes the field with our head coach back this Sunday that the roof might as well be peeled back because I know our fans are going to blow the roof off Lucas Oil (Stadium) this weekend."