INDIANAPOLIS – Interim Indianapolis Colts coach Bruce Arians will not be turning play calling over to anyone. Well, maybe Andrew Luck.
As Luck develops, he'll have more options in calling plays, particularly in the no-huddle, late-game drives. He already handles some situations.
But, even as Arians takes on more responsibility with coach Chuck Pagano on leave to fight leukemia, he'll maintain his control of the offensive coordinating duties. Arians loves to call plays, and call them his way, and so the Colts' offense will show no noticeable difference in Pagano's absence.
“I always said if I was a head coach, I'd call the plays,” Arians said. “That's the most fun in the business for me. That's why I do what I do, it's the chess match and the relationships with the guys. None of that's going to change.”
Arians has been in the NFL for 20 years as an offensive coach, whether as a coordinator or working on specific units. He's coached running backs, quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends. His Colts' claim to fame came when he was first with the team as quarterbacks coach during Peyton Manning's formative NFL years.
Arians' knack for developing quarterbacks was one reason he was hired by Pagano to work with the rookie Luck.
Arians style can be abrasive with colorful language that he admits can't often be printed in a family newspaper. He also has shown an ability to establish trust and loyalty with his players. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was publicly upset when Arians parted ways with the Steelers.
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson said there was no hesitation in putting Arians in charge after Pagano said he would have to take a medical leave. Pagano said he wanted Arians to take over.
“(Arians) was a quick choice,” Grigson said. “He's a veteran. He knows this game well. He has a great synergy with the staff and with Chuck. He's going to be able to bridge that gap between Chuck and himself and this team because they have a brotherhood on that staff like I've never seen.”
It's probably helpful that Pagano's staff came together for the first time this season. Everyone came to Indianapolis – other than remaining quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen – as part of an entirely new situation. They could carve out their own place in the staff.
They built the staff together under Pagano's watch.
Arians said his philosophy is so similar to Pagano's that people probably won't be able to tell any difference. Arians' only head-coaching experience was with Temple from 1983 to 1988.
“Coach Arians has been around,” Luck said. “He's seen everything in the world of football. I'm sure he'll do a great job and still manage to keep his (finger on the) pulse on everything the offense is doing.”
The Colts (1-2) play the Green Bay Packers (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Game day won't be any different,” Arians said. “Except instead of trying to talk Chuck into throwing that damn (challenge) flag out there, I get to throw it. We'll see if I have the (guts) to throw it.”
Most who know Arians figure he'll have the (guts).