At this point, it's clear that it will take a lot - and by a lot I mean a miraculous turnaround to finish the season - for head coach Chuck Pagano to be the head coach of the Colts next season.
The Colts have a massive game coming up this weekend against the Houston Texans, one that will dramatically impact the AFC South race. On his radio show last night, Pagano called the game the biggest he has coached with the Colts. He knows how huge this game is both for his team's playoff hopes and for his hopes of keeping the job, whether he would admit that or not. So he faces a tough task in getting his team ready this week, but he's keeping perspective regardless.
"You know, when I spent 26 days in the hospital in 2012, that was tough," Pagano said on Monday. "That was tough. This is nothing. I'm holding up great. My weight is a little bit up because you don't get as much time to work out a little bit so I got a few extra pounds on me. I know it doesn't show but that's what big clothes do for you. My wife is taking great care of me. I'm doing great. We have a great opportunity."
During the 2012 season, Pagano was hospitalized during the team's week four bye week with cancer, resulting in him missing most of the season. On Christmas Eve in 2012, Pagano returned to work, but it has given him a new mindset.
"That brought great perspective obviously on a lot of things," he agreed. "Because what happens is when things are going good, the car is running, it turns over every morning, you're not sick, you have your health, you take things for granted. You're winning a bunch of games, yeah you may take things for granted. I've never really taken anything for granted, even before the cancer so I'm grateful for every single day that I get. Again, if I get tomorrow we're going to attack it with everything we have and be grateful for that. All I'm worried about is today. I'm doing the very best job that I can today and then when tomorrow comes, we'll deal with tomorrow."
The reality that the Colts face now, however, is that they are 6-7 with three games remaining and facing a key game this weekend in the AFC South division race.
"I mean, there's stress," Pagano said. "I go home and if things aren't right, I've got stress at home. My wife has enough stuff. My daughters, I worry about them. That brings stress. Yeah, that's what comes with this job, but we all know what we signed up for. What are you going to do? So what, now what? They can't eat you. Remember I told you that. They can't eat you. They can fire you, but they can't eat you. So if the worst thing is a year from now, let's say I'm in Boise (Idaho) next year playing with my granddaughters, I'm going to be fine. That isn't going to happen but I'm going to be fine if I have to go down that road."
This was an introspective and honest Chuck Pagano, one who didn't just brush off the swirling talk of his pending firing once the season is over but one who maintained perspective about what really matters. Make no mistake, Pagano has no plans of going down easy and he is fully intent on getting the Colts to the playoffs and making a run, but he's maintaining perspective throughout. You can blame him for a lot of things on the field, but you can't blame him for that.