FORT WAYNE – So now January, the playoffs, a few more twists in the plot from whatever mad novelist has taken over the Indianapolis Colts’ outlandish tale.
This week’s installment?
Colts vs. Ravens, in Baltimore, the Colts’ own ancestral home.
Where Chuck Pagano, the Horseshoes’ head coach/unquenchable guiding spirit, got his break as a coordinator, which ultimately brought him to Indianapolis.
Where Jim Caldwell, the previous Colts head coach, is now the offensive coordinator.
Where, the last time the Colts won a Super Bowl, they beat the Ravens along the way.
You could say it doesn’t get any more bizarre than that, but of course this season passed bizarre a bunch of miles back.
Nothing shocks me anymore, Pagano concurred this week.
And, no, not his team, either, which goes a long toward explaining why they’ve won 11 games in a season you literally couldn’t make up. Now it’s on to Baltimore, where Ray Lewis may be playing the last game of a decorated 17-year career, and where the fearsome Ravens defense can’t wait to get at Andrew Luck, who’s thrown 13 of his 18 interceptions away from Lucas Oil Stadium. Who picks the Colts, given all that?
On the other hand why not, given everything that’s happened?
They talk a lot about respecting the process in this locker room, and if that’s been the conscious design of Pagano and Bruce Arians and the coaching staff, it’s also been something organic, too, a survival mechanism in a season without the usual landmarks. If you respect the process, the process becomes all. If you move with blinders on from point-to-point-to-point, everything else going on around you fades to insignificance.
I don’t think you can wholesale change anything, Luck said. We’ve been very successful up to this point, so I just think we have to stick with the same process, the same preparation. It’s Wednesday today, so we’ll worry about Wednesday.
We’re not going to worry about what may happen Sunday.
Only what, by this point, they almost expect to happen.
We’re here to play now. We’re not building for next year and years to come, says tight end Dwayne Allen.
We’re playing like we want to go far in the playoffs, cornerback Vontae Davis concurs.
And you, Dwight Freeney?
Obviously, we’re doing tremendous things with a lot of young guys, he said this week. I don’t know if there’s a record or what to that. I have no idea. But we set goals at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t just to get to this point and that’s it.
And so onward. Toward whatever mad plot twist awaits next.
I can’t explain (this season), Pagano says. None of those guys can explain it. We’re just kind of riding the wave, if you will.
Like I said before, we’re just going to stick to the process and do the same things we’ve been doing week in and week out You can get caught up in the playoff hype and all that other stuff, but at the end of the day, they’re going to kick that ball off and it’s still football. Field doesn’t change, it’s a different team, you just pull the decals off and slap a different decal on there and you’ve got another 60-minute game to play.