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Lots of credit to go around for Colts' improvement


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Somebody is doing something right.

Or more accurately, everybody is doing something right.

What else explains the Indianapolis Colts’ unexplainable start?

From the owner down to the lowliest rookie, the Colts are defying not only skeptics but logic. Big time.

Rebuilding teams, let alone the kind with interim head coaches, should not have a winning record at midseason. And they definitely shouldn’t be in the playoff race.

Yet here the Colts are, at 4-3, right in the thick of it.

Who should get credit? There’s plenty to go around, starting at the top with the owner.

Jim Irsay took the mother of all risks, or gambles, or leaps of faith, or whatever you want to call it, when he made the gut-wrenching decision to reduce it to rubble and start over. No more Bill Polian. No more Jim Caldwell. No more Peyton Manning. No more Pro Bowl-packed roster.

No more guaranteed sellouts.

But no matter.

Irsay made a courageous call. To date, it certainly looks like the right one. But it easily could have looked the other way had he not brought in the right people to direct the rebuilding. Those choices took courage, too.

Ryan Grigson is a first-time general manager, but the results don’t reflect it. His first Colts roster includes 10 rookies, up to four of whom have started on offense at the same time. The most prominent, of course, is Andrew Luck, who clearly is living up to the No. 1 overall pick billing.

But the best news for the Colts’ is that their success isn’t being driven by a single player. Luck is a huge part of it, but he’s not the sole source. This team is, well, a team. Credit Grigson for that, as well as for assembling what by any definition is an outstanding coaching staff.

Well before being diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia, first-time head coach Chuck Pagano demonstrated he was — and is — the right man for the job. Somehow, he convinced a team that wasn’t supposed to win much that it can win a lot. Although he hasn’t coached a game since Sept. 23, make no mistake the Colts are very much his team and clearly reflect his spirit.

That said, interim coach Bruce Arians deserves a huge dose of credit, despite his best efforts to accept none.

In light of Pagano’s indefinite absence, it would have been easy for the Colts to cash it in. Instead, they’ve rallied around Arians, who has clearly earned their respect. They are 2-1 on his watch.

Yet he attributes the overall 4-3 start to a collective effort, of which he is only one part.

“It’s a testament to Ryan and the scouting staff for getting the right guys and the coaches for picking the right guys,” Arians said. “It’s a credit to those guys for being in tune. The veterans have taken those young guys and have shown them how to do it in the lockerroom, on and off the field.

“It’s a credit to all of them.”

And richly deserved, from top to bottom.

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. Send comments to rmorwick@dailyjournal.net.

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