Colts better or worse with Pagano back?

Chuck PaganoIndianapolis ColtsFootballSportsLeukemiaChicago Tribune ColumnistsMiami Dolphins

Better with his guidance

Dan Pompei

Chicago Tribune

The Colts will get an emotional boost from Chuck Pagano's return that will make them a better team, but they also will get a coaching boost. Pagano, don't forget, was hired because of his leadership ability and defensive intellect. It was clear early on that he had a grasp on this team. He has a rare ability to touch and motivate players. The Colts will be better with his guidance and ideas.

Pagano's return will give the team other resources and allow interim head coach Bruce Arians to focus more on what he was hired to do, which is run the offense. Other assistants also will be given more time to focus on their areas of specialty. The Colts have had incredible coaching in Pagano's absence, but they should have even better coaching now that he's back.

dpompei@tribune.com

Won't mess with success

Athan Atsales

Los Angeles Times

The Colts shouldn't be better or worse with Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines. The playoff team has created its identity during his absence, and Pagano is smart enough to realize he will be lending a helping hand — not taking over with an iron fist. Pagano helped put this team together, but Arians, the assistants and the players made the chemistry work. No reason to mess with the ingredients. At most, add a little spice on defense, Pagano's expertise.

The real awkwardness lies in the future. Arians has shown he deserves a shot at a head-coaching job. Can the Colts afford to let him leave? It would be best to have Arians at Pagano's side next season, because if he leaves and the Colts falter, suddenly Pagano is in a very unenviable and vulnerable position.

aatsales@tribune.com

Coach keeps inspiring

Omar Kelly

Sun Sentinel

The last time Chuck Pagano returned to the Colts organization he provided his team an emotional charge that motivated Indianapolis to a thrilling 23-20 victory over the Dolphins.

The players and coaches openly talked about how inspirational seeing and hearing from their head coach was. A couple of days later players shaved their heads as a show of support for Pagano's fight against leukemia.

His presence was the shot in the arm the Colts needed to make a playoff push in the second half of the season. It is possible, and very likely, that Pagano's emotional speeches and inspirational journey could turn the surprising Colts into the little NFL team that could (get to the Super Bowl) during the postseason.

okelly@tribune.com

Defense will thrive

Aaron Wilson

Baltimore Sun

The emotional return of fiery Chuck Pagano to the Colts' sideline figures to inject more than inspiration provided by his example of perseverance by successfully battling leukemia.

Pagano also is an excellent strategist who knows how to align his defense to counteract offenses' strengths and tendencies. He's an aggressive defensive guru who believes in disrupting quarterbacks' timing and creating fear through constant pressure.

Football is a game of passion. An inspired team can make a difference, especially on defense. And that's where Pagano is an expert. Look for the Colts to crank up their pass rush during the postseason as they get Pagano back on the field.

awilson@tribune.com

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