For any of you fans still swimming in the delusional miasma that the Colts and their owner believe that they are simply in year two of a rebuilding process, Jim Irsay's comments to the media yesterday at training camp should have lifted that cloud of stupid from your eyes.
An owner does not spend $140 million dollars on 11 free agents in one offseason just because he maybe, kinda, oh-golly-gee hopes his team will make the playoffs. The expectation is a Super Bowl in 2013, and Jim Irsay made that clear when he met with media on Friday at the University of Anderson.
Owner Jim Irsay’s template for the present and future success of his Indianapolis Colts can be traced to 2004 and one of the team’s archrivals.
Yes, the New England Patriots.
The ’04 Patriots used the Colts as a steppingstone to their Super Bowl XXXIX victory over Philadelphia. New England shut down the high-powered Peyton Manning-led offense en route to a 20-3 divisional playoff game in Foxborough.
The Patriots’ blueprint still resonates with Irsay.
"It was one of the more complete teams that there was," he said Friday while visiting training camp at Anderson University. "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."It was a tough team to get past. That’s what we’re looking for.’’
Those 2004 New England Patriots also went on to win Super Bowl XXXIX over the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The Pats entered the 2004 season with Super Bowl expectations after winning the previous Super Bowl the year before. They'd also added star running back Corey Dillon during that year's offseason.
Irsay also made it clear that he expects the defense to take a significant leap forward in 2013.
"I look for the defense to take a jump, to become formidable and to become something that really starts being a cornerstone of what we’re about," Irsay said. "We want to be a really physical unit and a consistent unit."We want to have greatness, toughness on defense and be bigger and more physical."
Translation: The spotlight is on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and head coach Chuck Pagano to turn this defense around.
The 2012 Colts defense was as inept as the 2011 squad, and that 2011 group flirted with an 0-16 season. If Pagano cannot turn this unit around, if this defense does not become a "cornerstone" of the Colts' identity, it's likely that Manusky will be served up as the fall guy. This despite that fact that Pagano spends much of his time in practices coaching the defensive players in a scheme Chuck brought over with him from Baltimore.
Again, in case you don't "get" the not-so-subtle mandate from the team owner:
The ultimate goal of the massive re-organization that took place after the 2-14 finish in 2011?
Everything is "based on wanting to win multiple championships," Irsay said.
What's interesting about this statement, and Irsay's other comments about the team, is that they conflict with what he tweeted back in April 2012. Back then, Irsay strongly suggested it would take six years to rebuild. Naturally, this comment was not greeted with enthusiasm by fans.
Between April 2012 and now, it's clear expectations have changed.