Chuck Pagano will return to his job as head coach of the Colts after taking a three month leave of absence to battle leukemia.
The Colts have announced that at 12:15 PM EST on Monday, a person named "coach" will be made available to the media. That "coach" is first-year head coach Chuck Pagano, a man who has been battling leukemia since late-September.
Pagano took a leave of absence when the news of his cancer was made public on October 1st, immediately following the Colts' bye week. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians assumed the role of interim head coach, and since then the Colts have gone 9-3 and have clinched a playoff berth as the No. 5 seed in the AFC.
At today's presser, Pagano will resume his duties as head coach. Bruce Arians will step down as interim head coach, but retain his offensive coordinator title and duties. Per a report from Phil Richards at IndyStar.com, Pagano will address the team at 10:00 AM, just prior to the media availability session.
The timing of Pagano's return seems to have worked out very well for him and for the Colts. The upcoming Week 17 match-up at home against the Texans is virtually meaningless to Indianapolis. Their playoff seeding is set, and the focus would seem to be on getting healthy. This would provide Pagano time to ease back into his role as head coach while also allowing him to get to know players who were simply not on the roster at the time Pagano took his leave in late-September.
One of those players is corner Darius Butler, who was signed during the bye week just prior to the announcement of Pagano's leukemia. Butler leads the Colts in interceptions with four, including two returned for touchdowns.
The Colts have rallied around the mantra of "Chuckstrong" since the news of Pagano's cancer was made public. Bruce Arians has said, from the moment he took over as interim coach, that the goal was to extend the season for Chuck. After Sunday's 20-13 win over the Chiefs and the Colts clinching a playoff berth, Arians told the team in the winning locker room: "Mission accomplished."