I'm seeing an organization talking repeat less than 24 hours after they won the Super Bowl. This is very encouraging.
Winning the Super Bowl is never a fluke, but I do believe the Colts want to cement their legacy in the modern NFL. They have the model they are working from: New England. Dungy even referenced New England in his next day press conference after the Super Bowl:
"It's difficult to repeat in this league," he said. "It's so competitive that any little slippage is not going to allow you to get back to the top. And what New England did, we have a lot of respect for. We know how tough it is to get here, but to get here and continually be there takes something special."
Manning especially seems geared to defend the trophy. The guy gets the monkey off his back, he shuts up just about every moron critic in America, and the next day he's talking about dynasty. He's talking about not getting "a pass" from the press and fans.
"I don't want to get the pass," Manning said. "I want to be accountable each and every year. Next year, our goal is be a better quarterback. I feel I should be because of the experience I gained this year."
That's good to hear Peyton. Just don't drive any hot rod motorcycles through downtown Indy without a helmet on.
Talk for repeat is fun. It gets me pumped for the first set of team conditioning workouts that are scheduled for next month. That's right folks. Next month, the Colts begin work to defend their trophy. Is it possible for them to repeat?
Yes, in fact they are favored to repeat.
The Colts sport the second youngest team in football. Key players like Robert Mathis, Bob Sanders, Marlin Jackson, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Antoine Bethea, Gary Brackett, Raheem Brock, and Reggie Wayne are all signed and either getting to or are in the prime of their careers. The major free agent the Colts have, Dwight Freeney, isn't going anywhere. The Colts will either sign him to a long term deal or tag him. The other free agent of note, Cato June, has expressed interest in staying, and it is very possible the Colts will retain him.
The veteran nucleus of the team consists of Manning, Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, Marvin Harrison, Booger McFarland, and Adam Vinatieri. All are signed long term. It looks as if there will be no major coaching changes as well. Dungy is not retiring. Caldwell is not going to get any head coaching offers, and Tom Moore is Tom Moore. Howard Mudd, Gene Huey, and Ron Meeks are all most likely to stay.
You also have to consider that the Colts had to deal with all kinds of hard injuries all season. Yet, they won it all anyway. This means injuried players like Montae Reagor and Brandon Stokley will be back next year. There is also Corey Simon. If Simon's undisclosed illness subsides enough for him to play, the Colts would have a defensive tackle rotation of Booger McFarland, Corey Simon, Montae Reagor, and Raheem Brock.
That's scary good.
Bottom line here is the Colts will return with essentially the same team, but this time healthy and infused with more youth. Remember, nobody drafts better than Bill Polian. No one. Three rookies played heavy snaps in the Super Bowl (two of them started) and played very well in the game: Joseph Addai, Antoine Bethea, and Charlie Johnson, who subbed for the injured Ryan Diem at RT. And with this unit, with guys like Manning, Sanders, and Dungy talking about a hunger to repeat, this team will have a very good chance to defend their championship.
Obviously, the future is not written. Injuries, general stupidity, and other factors can destroy a season. As a fan though, the Colts and Bill Polian have established a firm foundation for the possibility of a repeat.
Possibility is all you can ask for, and every step of the way this blog will chronicle, dissect, and analyze the Colts' attempts to defend their title and build a dynasty. Will they do it? Who knows? Regardless, we will be here to blog about it every step of the way.