Entering his 41st season as part of the National Football League, Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay now has one perk that he didn’t quite have before in the beginning of his career.
“I don’t have to be up as early since I’m not the ball boy anymore,” said Irsay with a smile.
However Irsay has much more responsibilities in year 41, and he made it clear Friday afternoon in Anderson that he and the Colts organization has done everything they can this off-season to improve the team on the field. This includes the acquisitions of defensive back Greg Toler, safety LaRon Landry, and first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner.
“I think that we really, when you look at the list, Chuck (Pagano) and Ryan (Grigson), the players we were aiming for, we literally got all of our guys,” said Pagano.
“I made a significant investment. We’re going to be six or seven million cash over cap. We really targeted guys that we felt could really help us. That’s not always the big name player that makes the big splash. You don’t want weak links. Sometimes you can have a play where 10 players do the right thing and one player doesn’t and it looks like the play completely was a disaster when you just had one person break down. I think it’s a long season. Depth is important, particularly with the offensive line and some other areas. Obviously, adding some components and as I’ve said, I look for the defense to take a jump, to become formidable and become something that really starts being a cornerstone of what we’re about. We want to be a really physical unit and a consistent unit. I think through the last decade and a half, and so much greatness and all those things, we had this Jekyll and Hyde inconsistencies that was hard to believe. You could go down to Jacksonville in December and give up 375 yards rushing yet go into the playoffs all of a sudden and shut down the run and win the Super Bowl. We want to have greatness and toughness on defense and be bigger and more physical and special teams, we want to cure that, particularly coverage and some of the breakdowns everyone knows we’ve had in the past that we never really got solved.
To probably the dislike of his own fan base, Irsay went on to talk about what he envisions here in Indianapolis, which happens to resemble the past success of the rival-New England Patriots.
“Some of the goals that I set when we reorganized the organization, again, based on wanting to win multiple championships. I look back for instance at that Patriots 2004 team. It was one of the most complete teams that there was and there wasn’t humongous offensive statistics and (Tom) Brady didn’t throw 50 touchdown passes, but it was such a well-balanced team in all areas and it was a tough team to get past. That’s what we’re looking for.”
What Irsay expects on the offensive end is the continued progress of his second-year quarterback Andrew Luck. Last year the number-one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft threw for 23 touchdowns and 4,374 yards, and with the addition of Darius Heyward-bey, Irsay can only believe his man under center can only trend upward.
“You hear the world sophomore slumps. I don’t know if people just use it because it sounds nice and it rhymes or at least there’s two ‘S’s’ in both that starts both words,” said Irsay.
“I really think with Andrew, and just having visited with him for a while, it’s great because he doesn’t have that first year where he’s making all the adjustments and he’s answering all the questions that he did coming in. The second year, he just has really a chance to even be more focused and the distractions and some, the newness, that can lead to some insecurities is gone and he’s well in stride now as a veteran player. I think that’s going to show in his play even though I think he was unquestionably the rookie of the year last year and I don’t think there’s any denying that of what we accomplished. He’s just going to keep getting better.”