INDIANAPOLIS – As Indianapolis starts to gear up preparations for the 2012 season, it will do so with a new general manager and head coach.
Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have taken over the respective positions, and job one for the pair is to piece together an assistant coaching staff.
The first addition hired by Grigson and Pagano was one familiar to Colts fans who have followed the team during the past 14 seasons.
Bruce Arians was chosen as the club's new offensive coordinator last week, and it is his second stint with the team. Arians was the club's quarterbacks coach from 1998-2000 before moving along to Cleveland and Pittsburgh, where he served time in coordinator positions. Arians held the role with Cleveland from 2001-03 and with Pittsburgh from 2007-11.
A player who toiled under Arians in Indianapolis and Cleveland was quarterback Kelly Holcomb.
While Holcomb did not see playing action with the Colts during Arians' tenure, he did start 10-of-15 games under Arians with the Browns, completing 264-of-420 passes for 2,701 yards and 19 touchdowns. Holcomb had a great working relationship with Arians, and he believes this is a solid addition for Indianapolis.
"I think Bruce is really innovative in what he does," said Holcomb. "He's very smart about what he does. He's smart about football. He keeps things simple for you."
Arians was on Jim Mora's staff in Indianapolis, a group that included offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Arians last week credited Moore for allowing him to coach with the club and felt the years with the Colts were formative ones in his coaching career.
"It was by far the best three years I've had," said Arians. "I loved being allowed to coach. Tom let me coach, and I'm always indebted to him."
Holcomb recalls seeing evidence of Moore's influence in Cleveland under Arians, and he liked how Arians was able to design an offense.
"Bruce got a lot of things from Tom Moore when he was in Indianapolis, and we kept the offense (in Cleveland) pretty much the same, but changed some terminology," said Holcomb. "He's very good at scheming defenses. He knows what he wants to do. He's very good at articulating to his players what he wants them to do.
"I was pretty close to Bruce, and I owe him a lot. He's the reason I was able to stay in the NFL for 13 years. He gave me the opportunity and a chance, and I did the most I could do with it. I owe him a lot. I love him and would do anything for him."
Colleagues and players alike have noted for years the personal and professional traits Arians has that make him so successful. His people skills are through the ceiling.
"He is very good at that," said Holcomb. "He can communicate with people. He's a likeable guy, and I can't say enough good things about him. I wish we could have stayed together a little longer.
"There is a common thread with Bruce and me. We leave Indianapolis (for Cleveland) and Indianapolis wins a Super Bowl. Bruce goes on to Pittsburgh and goes to three Super Bowls. It would have been nice if I could have sniffed one. I think Bruce is the guy for the job."
Arians was fond of his years in Indianapolis, and he feels very good about his upcoming fit with the club.
"I don't know in my 37 years of coaching, I ever walked into a building and felt more comfortable and more welcomed than when I did when I walked back into Indianapolis," said Arians. "I was excited, but it made me more excited because I know the class of the organization that Mr. (Jim) Irsay runs. I'm just excited about being back and being a part of that Horseshoe. You just can't put a value on the quality of the organization and being part of it."
Holcomb says Arians is savvy enough to win in any type of game, whether it is rushing 40 times or throwing 40 times. He believes Arians is well-versed to win either way, but that a balanced approach is the best. He believes Colts fans will see the balance and like the results.
"I think it will be a balanced attack. He knows you have to be able to attack both ways. Bruce will work with the personnel on hand and will be successful," said Holcomb.