It’s a measure of how far the Indianapolis Colts have come in the past 10 months that fans weren’t entirely satisfied Monday afternoon.
They fretted online and on talk radio about the big plays the Buffalo Bills missed during Sunday’s 20-13 Colts victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. They worried aloud about an offense that was inconsistent for much of the day but came through with big plays when it mattered most. And they wondered how this 7-4 team would fare in the postseason if the playoffs began this week.
I have to admit the collective reaction left me scratching my head.
Does no one remember this was a 2-14 team on Jan. 1? How about the house cleaning that followed, bringing in a new head coach, a new general manager and — most remarkable of all — a new starting quarterback?
Has everyone forgotten the preseason predictions that this team would win one or two games and again select first in the NFL draft?
None of which is meant to say that fans don’t have the right to ask for more. There are obvious flaws with this football team, and they will need to be corrected before Indianapolis is again home to a true championship contender.
But can’t anyone enjoy this ride for what it is?
Making the playoffs this season — a once unthinkable goal that now might require as few as two more wins — should be cause for celebration.
There are rookies playing key roles on both sides of the ball. The man brought in to be the head coach never had been a head coach before at any level.
Now Chuck Pagano is sidelined, fighting leukemia in a battle that has inspired at least one state and moved two Colts cheerleaders to agree to have their heads shaved during Sunday’s game. That act came as a result of fundraising efforts that collected $22,670 for leukemia research this month.
The cheerleaders’ freshly bald domes match most of the players’, who shaved their heads in support of Pagano three weeks ago.
The interim head coach — though offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is loathe to accept the title, calling it instead an “enhanced coordinator” position — hadn’t been a head coach since 1988 at Temple University.
In his first press conference on the day Pagano’s illness was announced, Arians vowed the team would “extend the season” to allow Pagano to return to the sideline. The Colts were 1-2 at the time, coming off a last-minute loss at home against Jacksonville, and the thought of a playoff berth was almost laughable.
Bonded behind Pagano’s cause, Indianapolis has gone 6-2 since.
Despite some hiccups along the way — most recently at New England — and some rough waters ahead — two games against 10-1 Houston in the final three weeks — the Colts now are a popular pick to make the playoffs.
There will be plenty of time to worry about how they’ll do if they get there in January.
Until then, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the show.