As much as Bruce Arians is enjoying leading the Indianapolis Colts as the team's interim coach, he has made it clear exactly where his loyalties lie.
Arians, who has led the Colts to a 7-4 record heading into Sunday's game at Detroit, continues to give all credit for the team's unexpected run of success this season to his boss, coach Chuck Pagano.
Indianapolis was expected to flounder in the wake of so many on-and-off-field changes. Yet the Colts find themselves in strong contention for an AFC wild card berth.
Pagano has been away from the team, in terms of being an every-day presence, since Oct. 1 when he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He has been undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments since then.
The goal, according to Arians, is to have Pagano back on the sidelines for the Colts' Dec. 30 regular-season home finale with AFC South rival Houston.
If that goal is met, Pagano will be back fully-in-charge of the team in time for a potential postseason run.
"If he comes back, he'll be the head coach and taking back over," Arians said.
Pagano has been in attendance for two home games -- Miami and Buffalo -- since taking his leave of absence, sitting with team owner Jim Irsay in his Lucas Oil Stadium suite. The Colts have won both of those matchups.
He has also remained involved by working from his home by breaking down practice and game tapes. Pagano also keeps in touch with the Colts' coaching staff and players.
"(The players) love Chuck and what he means and what he stands for. He's in communication with the guys all the time texting," Arians said.
"I kind of preach it every week so we're never going to forget that. That's the one thing we want to do and I think that's what's bonded our football team."
The Colts will have a stiff test this weekend at Ford Field against a Detroit team that is a lot better than its 4-7 record would indicate.
"When you've got two guys with the quality of Matthew (Stafford) and Calvin (Johnson), they are as good as it gets in this league," Arians said of the team's quarterback and top receiver. As far as a one-two punch, the guy throwing to a guy catching, Matthew can make every throw in the book and this guy (Johnson) can obviously take a short one and go over (you).
"Or you could have him covered and he's still going to jump out and catch it. So don't get your heart broken if two guys are on him and he still catches the ball. Just play the next down."