Chuck Pagano is the fuel to the Indianapolis Colts’ fire.
Following their dramatic 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Pagano made the locker room even more emotional. Surrounded by his team, the head coach who’s currently in a war with leukemia said (via Colts.com):
You decided consciously as a team, as a family to live in a vision and that's why you bring things home like you brought home today. That's why you're already champions and well on your way.
Indianapolis is indeed well on its way. After three straight triumphs, it currently boasts a record of 5-3. If the playoffs began today, the Colts would be in.
That’s almost unthinkable considering they finished 2011 with a record of just 2-14. But two unique factors have played huge roles in their miraculous turnaround.
One, Pagano has and will continue to inspire the ballclub. And two, Andrew Luck is exceeding any and all expectations.
Luck completed 30 of 48 passes for a whopping 433 yards—a NFL rookie record—and two touchdowns against the Phins. If he and Pagano keep doing what they’re doing, Indianapolis will continue to be a difficult team to beat.
The next five games will ultimately determine whether the Colts are contenders or pretenders. They’ll face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans. The team must walk away from that stretch with a winning record because two of its final three are vs. the Houston Texans.
But again, with Pagano as its motivation, it’d be foolish to bet against Indy.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.