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ANDERSON, Ind. — Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano has settled on a simple motto for 2014: "Decide."

It's the one-word message Pagano has printed on T-shirts and preached this offseason.
It is up to everyone to decide if this is the year to finish the objective printed on last year's shirts: "Hoist it." From those Lombardi T-shirts, to a wireless network at the Colts training camp compound with the password "Super Bowl 49," the Colts believe this is the season they should be playing in February.

Can you imagine if New York Jets Head Coach, Rex Ryan made these same statements, and had T-shirts printed? New England Patriot fans would be up in arms. It just sounds different coming from the third year coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Just two years removed from treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia which wiped out his first year as the head coach of the Colts, Chuck Pagano makes some pretty bold comments for his ball club.

While lying in his hospital bed between treatments in the fall of 2012, Chuck took the time to write his book about those battling cancer, Sidelined: A Winning Season in Perspective. With the tremendous support he received from the community and the hospital staff, the only other issue was how to get the NFL Network in his hospital ward room.

In 2011, nobody would have made such a request, because the Colts tanked on their way to a 2-14 season as injured QB Peyton Manning watched from the sidelines. Tanking is good when the first pick available in the 2012 NFL Draft is Stanford University QB, Andrew Luck. Add in back to back 11-5 regular seasons along with a 28 point comeback 2014 playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and you have some optimism. Chuck has plenty of that.

USA Today:
Q: What is it that you think makes them capable of handling those expectations?
A: We've got a great quarterback, you know? A great quarterback, great weapons around him. Veteran leadership. Made some great acquisitions in the offseason. It isn't pressure. With expectations, when you throw that stuff out there, when you put a bunch of pressure on yourself to reach those goals, you don't do anything different. You just keep working to get better.

It is not going to be an easy road to be able to “Hoist it” in Glendale, AZ (Site of Super Bowl XLIX) in 2015. There is the opener on the road against former QB Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Tough road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and the Cleveland Browns in the dog pound with QB Johnny Manziel will follow. Home contests against the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, and New England Patriots will make for a battle tested squad for the postseason.

If this were easy, why aren’t their more usual suspects than the Broncos and the Patriots? Speaking of the New England Patriots, the last 3 games against them have been losses of: 31-24, 59-24 and 43-22. From Chuck’s perspective, “I am hoping their cupcake schedule in the AFC East will make them vulnerable”. If the Colts can keep it close, they have the one guy who delivers in the rain, sleet and snow. The guy who Bill Belichick once called, “his best player”…Adam Vinatieri.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

Follow me on Twitter at @_prmurphy

For more of my articles, click here.

prmurphy 7/31/2014 04:25:00 PM Edit
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