Coffee Cup Quarterback | Week 10: Livin On A Prayer…

Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck and Offensive Tackle Anthony Castonzo

Whooah…we’re half way there…

Give or take a week.  Or two.

Yes, I was inspired by the music coming from Soldier Field during Sunday Night Football.  And, it just happens to be my personal anthem.  Lucas Oil Stadium (or whoever controls the music at our pad)…take note.

We gotta hold on to what we got…

The Atlanta Falcons that it is.  Trying to hold on to their unbeaten record, the only one left in the NFL this season.  The Falcons played the Saints, who Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith is 2-7 against.  The Falcons fall to 8-1.  The 1972 Dolphins pop the champagne.  And then there were none…

It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not…

Or so it would seem between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.  Or…does it?  Tony Romo is living up to his nickname, Mr. November (no he was not in Playgirl), as he rallies his team to beat the Michael Vick-less Eagles (who left with a concussion in the second quarter).  And there doesn’t look to be a looming quarterback controversy with rookie Nick Foles at the helm.

Also helping the Cowboys, the Giants lost to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.  If Eli Manning’s arm was tired, it’s rested now.  He’s had two games in a row with no touchdowns.  You know what does look tired?  The Giants offensive line, which allowed four sacks on Manning.  And the Giants defense, which was holier than Tim Tebow.

We’ve got each other and that’s a lot…
For love…we’ll give it a shot…

That would be the Indianapolis Colts.  United by love for their sick coach, Chuck Pagano, the players shaved their heads for him this week.  Then went down to defeat their division rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Colts, at 6-3, have a two game lead over the other AFC teams in the hunt for a wildcard playoff spot.  Yes, the Colts are the darlings of the NFL…and were also the darlings of the refs on Thursday night.  Still…the Colts are quickly becoming the team that no one wants to play.  Because, they are just that…a team.  And my team, so I may be a little biased.

We’ve got to hold on ready or not…

And the San Diego Chargers were not.  Ready.  At.  All.  For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  But, they were cleared of any wrong doing in the Stickygate scandal.  So there’s that…

You live for the fight when that’s all that you’ve got…

Only the New York Jets don’t appear to have any fight left in them.  Or if they do, it is on the bench…praying.  The Jets were beat by the Seattle Seahawks 28-7.  Even Seahawks Wide Receiver Golden Tate had a chance to throw…and he did.  For a touchdown to Sidney Rice.

A few side notes…

The NFL may want to look into this concussion thing, *insert sarcasm* as three starting quarterbacks went out with them on Sunday: Jay Cutler (Bears), Alex Smith (49ers), and Michel Vick (Eagles).  Two of which had something to lose…

And for the first time since 2008, we had a tie game in the NFL.  And just like last time…one of the players was not aware of the rules.  *Insert Donovan McNabb joke.*

Do they not cover this at rookie camp?  Brush up on it during training camp?  If I’m an NFL coach (and I don’t aspire to be), the first thing I do when my team goes into overtime is…REMIND THEM OF HOW IT WORKS!  And maybe have a pop quiz on the NFL Rule Book.  Sorry.  Didn’t mean to yell…

So, here we are.  At the turning point of the season.  Some things are becoming more obvious…others, more puzzling.  The one thing we can be sure of…a wild ride from here.

Take my hand…we’ll make it, I swear…

XO

This post brought to you by Bon Jovi.

Colts are building more than a monster

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano with Offensive Coordinator and Interim Coach Bruce Arians

I thought I saw an inspiring and heartful performance on Saturday night.  Watching an emotional AJ McCarron bring the Alabama Crimson Tide back to beat the LSU Tigers in “Death Valley.”  And it was.  A strong, coming of age performance by a young quarterback and his team.

Then I watched my Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.  And then I saw Coach Chuck Pagano’s locker room speech afterwards.  Have there ever been more tears shed in one weekend of football?  No wonder I’m emotionally drained.  Vince Lombardi must be rolling over in his grave.  I bet he’s smiling though.

Sunday was truly a special day.  Coach Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia during the Colts bye week at the end of September, returned to the team for the first time.  He surprised players in the locker room before the game and joined them there after to celebrate their 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Yesterday was more than a win though.  It was a turning point for the team.  The Colts have gone from “the worst team in the NFL” to “that team.”  That team that’s dangerous.  That team that’s on a playoff run.  That team that’s playing for more than football.

And led by Andrew Luck, the young quarterback who now owns the rookie passing record.  Luck passed for 433 yards and two touchdowns, passing Peyton Manning and Cam Newton along the way.

And speaking of numbers…check this out.  As of week nine, the Broncos sit at 5-3.  Peyton Manning has passed for 2,404 yards.  The Colts are also 5-3.  Andrew Luck has passed for…2,404 yards.  Look it up, people.  It’s true.  And eerie…in a divine kind of way.

Yes, after all that second guessing…we’re going to be just fine.  Better than fine.  We’re going to be great.

Coach Pagano, who starts another round of chemotherapy this week, will overcome.  He said it himself Sunday, “It’s already beat.”

The Colts will overcome.  Overcome illness, injuries, mistakes.  Throw anything at them. They will find a way.

Because this team is building more than a team, more than a monster.  They’re building character.

And that’s the most dangerous thing of all.  Because if you have character, no one can beat you.

Ever.

 XO

Coffee Cup Quarterback | Week 5: The One for Pagano

Week five of the NFL season had many interesting scenarios.  But all paled in comparison to a young Colts team with a rookie quarterback trying to win one for their coach.

The Colts were at home in Lucas Oil Stadium amongst a sea of blue and pink, with a little orange mixed in (and some green and gold too).  A little too much green and gold for my taste, but what are you going to do?

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was just a few miles away at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, watching the game from his hospital room where he is being treated for leukemia.

The ChuckStrong banners hung in the end zones.  But even if they didn’t, you could feel this game was about more than football.  Players wore ChuckStrong t-shirts during warm ups and under their jerseys.  And not just Colts players.  The Colts and Packers were opponents, but united in cause.

The Packers came out strong and by halftime had a 21-3 lead.  Colts fans hung in there, figuring they were outmatched, but hopeful that somehow a game would ensue.  “Just put up a fight.  That’s all we ask…”

And then, there was an interception.  A couple of field goals.  A long third down conversion.  And the Colts were back in the game.  They were better than in the game, they were in the lead.

With 30 seconds left, the game was not over.  Far from it.  Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers down the field and put Mason Crosby in position for a 51 yard field goal attempt.  He had missed one earlier.  The snap was perfect, the catch was perfect, the setup was perfect, the kick was perfect.  From where I was sitting, it looked perfect.  It looked good.  But somehow, some way…it wasn’t.  The roof was closed.  The window was closed.  It was not the wind.  It was the will.  Of the fans.  That made that ball veer left.  Wide left.

It’s never happened before and it may never happen again.  But on Sunday afternoon, in Lucas Oil Stadium, I witnessed the fans take the game.  That’s right…the 12th man became the only man on the field and it was sheer will.  And love.  For their team and their coach.

It wasn’t the Super Bowl.  It wasn’t even a playoff game.  It was more.  It meant more.

It is now my favorite Colts win.

Ever.

XO

(Via The Blue Mare)

Why We Love Coach Pagano

Chuck Pagano

I was waiting to write this until the Colts overcame some big obstacle, passed a milestone, or had a momentous victory.  But with Head Coach Chuck Pagano’s cancer diagnosis, October first seemed a better day than any.  Especially since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a cause now fully embraced by the NFL.  Cancer is a disease that has touched everyone in some way.  And today, it gripped an entire team.

There are many reasons to love Chuck Pagano.  He’s a guy’s guy.  He’s genuine, straightforward, and a competitor.  But as father to three daughters, he’s also a girl’s guy.  His family describes him as protective, encouraging, and sentimental.  Married for 22 years, he and his wife Tina still enjoy weekly date nights, even during the NFL season.

On the field, there are even more reasons to love him.  Coach Pagano is focused, upbeat, intense.  His leadership is apparent.  Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson says the team hired him to bring passion back to the organization.  And four weeks in, he has already delivered.  The players are engaged.  And so are the fans.

It’s that energy the Colts family will miss this season, while Coach Pagano battles a different kind of opponent…leukemia.  He won’t be far away, but he won’t be on the field either.  Everyone in the organization describes him as a fighter, and it’s that fighting spirit that will carry him through.  Colts Owner Jim Irsay says it’s a battle Pagano is ready for, “He’s tough as nails.  He’s in great spirits.”

From a team perspective, General Manager Ryan Grigson says the best medicine for Coach Pagano is for the Colts players to fight for him, on the field, every week, for four quarters.

Chuck Pagano faces a long and complicated battle.  But he doesn’t face it alone.  His family and Colts family stand firmly behind him, so do the fans, his former players, and the entire National Football League.

The next time I write this story will be after the Colts overcome…with Coach Pagano at the helm.  It will be after winning the battle of his life.  And it will be one more way he inspires his team.  And those around him.

In the meantime, the Colts will leave the light on in Coach Pagano’s office until his return.

We’ll all leave a light on for you, Coach…

Get well soon.

XO

(Via The Blue Mare)