Prepare yourselves, Colts fans: Chuck Pagano could be making his way back to the sidelines for Week 17 and yes, the playoffs.
*Knocks on wood 1,000 times*
Life is good for Colts fans. Damn good.
Pagano has completed another crucial step in his battle with cancer, a disease that appears to be no match for a man overflowing with perseverance and an unrivaled passion for life. On Tuesday, Pagano completed his third and final round of chemotherapy, and as previously thought, it's "very possible" that he will be coaching the Colts when the Texans come to town on Dec. 30.
If that doesn't get you fired up, you might want to check for a pulse.
It's far from a done deal, but according to Pagano’s physician, Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano is making significant strides towards returning to his passion before the season's end.
"Medically, I think it's very possible and I think the coach will make the decision about how he's feeling and whether he's up to the task," Cripe said. "Then, the organization will make a decision."
Pagano’s quest for an early return will rely on conditioning and more rehabilitation over the next few weeks.
For a team that has been struggling to find a stable identity on defense, this could be huge. The return of Pagano will not only lift the spirits of this already driven Colts team even higher, but Pagano's game-planning could be exactly what the team has been lacking in their struggle to build a competitive defense that can withstand a playoff run.
As of Week 13, the Colts defense is 24th in both total points allowed and points per game. Thanks a lot, Belichick.
Without making this article into defensive bash-a-thon, I just think it’s important to note the impact of Pagano on this team, schematically. We all know he has been the moral fuel behind the Colts incredibly successful 2012 campaign, but Pagano is a defensive football coach. It's his job, and if he can return to a full-time role before the Colts make a probable push into the playoffs, I expect the defense to see some form of improvement. Period.
And in fairness to Greg Manusky, I believe he has done, let's just say, a decent job with the limited talent that has been afforded to him in the secondary. Vontae Davis does not appear to be the answer, and as of right now, the Colts absolutely do not have anything that resembles a No. 1 corner.
Jerraud Powers could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2013, but even if the Colts want to re-sign him, they will still have the same hole to address in 2013.
Until then, the Colts will continue to rely on their star rookie quarterback--currently third in attempts--and the passion that was ignited by a man that has stared down cancer and said, "You're beat."