Colts reflect on dream season during move-out day
Less than 24 hours after the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Colts locker room was almost empty. Helmets, shoulder pads and cleats were gone or bagged up. Players packed their personal items in boxes to take home. Some autographed souvenir footballs for their teammates. The season is in the bag – in this case, black plastic trash bags.
The incredible turnaround - the inspiring moments – the magic ride - ended with a 24-9 loss to the Ravens Sunday.
"Normally after losses I don't get much sleep," said tight end Dwayne Allen. "After that game yesterday, I was up all night. Hopefully I'm going to try to get home and get some sleep now. It's rough."
The weekly football routine of the past five months comes to an abrupt halt for the Colts.
"They're going to wake up Wednesday and get out of bed and start heading over here and there's not going to be anybody here," said Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano. "There's not going to be a meeting and all that kind of thing. So there is definitely a transition period there."
Some of the players may have cleaned out their lockers for the last time as a Colt. Cornerback Jerraud Powers missed half the season with a toe injury. He's a free agent now, hoping to stay in Indy with a young team with a bright future.
"People saw what we did this year with everything that happened and we set the bar," said Powers. "Next year, the bar is set even higher for us. We are expecting to do a lot of things. That's one of the things that we talked about in the team meeting. There's a lot of optimism going into the offseason."
Other Colts free agents include franchise career sacks leader Dwight Freeney, punter Pat McAfee, wide receivers Austin Collie and Donnie Avery, right tackle Winston Justice, defensive end Fili Moala, and defensive tackle Antonio Johnson.
Colts Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians is expected to interview for at least two NFL head coaching jobs. The Bears and Eagles have received permission to speak with Arians. The Browns and Chargers also might be interested. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record as interim head coach while Pagano underwent treatment for leukemia. Arians directed the offense which saw Andrew Luck throw for an NFL rookie record 4,374 yards.
"Obviously, I want him back," said Luck. "You understand. Who wouldn't want a crack at a head job in the NFL? Selfishly, I hope he doesn't go anywhere."
Luck himself isn't sure where he'll go next. He said Monday he hasn't thought about where to live in the off-season.