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The Colts head coach makes it clear that the team cannot afford to lose offensive coordinator Bruce Arians during the off-season.
Happy New Year!
Even though the Colts are in the playoffs, the off-season rumor mill is churning for 20 other teams, and seven of those 20 are looking for new head coaches. One team, per a credible report, seems to be targeting current Colts offensive coordinator and one-time interim coach Bruce Arians.
At his Monday press conference, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was asked by the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz about whether the Colts have been contacted by other teams to interview Arians, and what would Chuck tell someone if they asked him about his O.C. Pagano responded:
Let me just say this: We do NOt want to lose Bruce Arians. He's just... we know what he is. And we know what he means to this organization and this football team. So, let me just say that, first and foremost.
This is the first time Pagano has commented on Arians possibly leaving in the off-season, and his words strongly suggest that the Colts will do what is necessary to keep the first-year Colts coordinator (i.e., more money and possibly another title, like "Assistant Head Coach," or the like). Obviously, Arians has earned a raise, and his value to the club is unquestioned. I know some readers here think that him leaving might actually be a good thing.
Total crap, in my not-so-humble opinion.
Do people really want to see a second-year Andrew Luck re-learn an entirely new offense? Do we want to see Reggie Wayne get acclimated to an offense that doesn't utilize motion? Players like Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton were taken specifically because of Arians, and it's not a given that they'll thrive in someone else's offense. Keeping Arians is critical.
That said, Pagano - who is ever the class act - stated that Arians has earned the right to receive any phone call, interest, or offer from another team.
You guys [in the media] have seen him work over the last 12 weeks. You know him as a person and as a coach. I would tell [an interested party in Arians] that you're getting, or, if you're interested in the guy, you're getting a guy that's a great leader, a great football coach, a great man. If that happened, you'd be lucky. You'd be getting a great football coach.
Before he closed on this subject, Pagano made it clear once again:
We don't want to lose Bruce. We can't lose Bruce.
Sounds like retaining Arians is the Colts' top priority when the off-season arrives.
Also, just FYI: It is against league rules for any team to contact another regarding a coaching hire if the other team is still playing. Thus, if anyone called the Colts and asked for permission to interview Arians, that is a big no-no. The worst kept secret in the NFL is that teams routinely violate this rule, or do things to skirt around it (like, for example, talking to a friend of Arians, who then relays to Bruce's agent that Team X wants to hire him for such-and-such dollars). That said, Pagano made it clear in the presser that he does not know if anyone has called regarding Arians.