INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 19, 2015) – The past 17 days of Rob Chudzinski’s life have been the spot-on definition of one of coach Chuck Pagano’s pet phrases: sudden change.
A sampling of that frenetic stretch:
- Nov. 3: a massive switch in roles from Indianapolis Colts’ associate head coach to offensive coordinator, replacing Pep Hamilton.
- Nov. 8: designing a viable game plan, on a short week no less, for the Denver Broncos and their No. 1-ranked defense. Mission accomplished. Quarterback Andrew Luck returned to form under Chudzinski’s simplified approach, passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers in a 27-24 victory.
- Nov. 10: finding out the Colts will be without Luck at least until mid-December after he suffered a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle against the Broncos.
- Nov. 16: welcoming players back from their bye week, regrouping yet again and creating a game plan for Sunday’s visit to Atlanta tailored to 40-year-old backup Matt Hasselbeck and not Luck.
Sudden change? Deal with it.
“I guess I’ve been doing this long enough that you expect the unexpected,’’ Chudzinski said Thursday. “That’s what this job is. That’s what coaching is.
“It’s all about challenges. You look at it like it’s a jigsaw puzzle. It can come together and it’s a matter of getting those pieces and putting it all together, but it can be done.’’
The switch in job description is simply the latest sudden change Chudzinski’s had to deal with.
On Dec. 29, 2013, he unexpectedly was fired as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He had been on the job for less than a year. Ownership pulled the plug after the Browns closed the season with a seven-game losing streak and 4-12 record even though it reportedly still owed him $10.5 million.
“You just get used to the fact that’s what it is,’’ said Chudzinski, who was reunited with long-time friend Pagano in February 2014. “You embrace the change and embrace the challenge. If you go at it from that perspective, that’s how you succeed.
“If you worry about what’s happening or what’s happened and dwell too much on that, you get caught up in the ‘Whys.’ ‘Why is this happening? Why did that happen?’ That’s how you’re not able to overcome things.
“As Chuck has talked to our team on a day-to-day basis, that’s the message we get all the time. It makes it easier when you’re around a guy that from the top is leading that way.’’
From an operational standpoint, Chudzinski’s approach differs from that of Hamilton. On game day, he prefers to run the offense from the press box rather than the sideline.
“You get a different view up there than you do on the field,’’ he said. “There’s pros and cons to both. It’s just what I’ve done. I like the view.’’
Despite the differing skill sets of Luck and Hasselbeck, don’t expect major changes to the Colts’ offensive approach.
“We’re approaching it really the same way,’’ Chudzinski said. “The things that we have, that we’ve done, we’ll feature. We’re real fortunate to have a guy like Matt to be the quarterback to take over. I feel like we’ll just pick right up where we left off.
“Everybody has some things they do well, and Matt is a guy that can do a lot really well. He’s real flexible. We’ll do things, just like we do with everybody, to try to feature their strengths.’’