Passing and stopping the pass wins in today's NFL. That's proven more and more with each passing season.
But if you ask offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton or owner Jim Irsay right now, they seem to want a different identity for the Colts in 2013.
During today's media availability, Hamilton was asked about the adjustment from being an offensive coordinator in college to one in the NFL. The most interesting part of his full answer was about a completely different subject.
Well, the time constraints in the NFL are just as challenging as the time constraints in college. I think the toughest part of my transition so far is not having the padded practices. We're a physical, downhill running football team, and we just feel like you got to work on hardening your knuckles. That's a big part of who we are and we need to go up there and grind and pound a little bit.
Last offseason, Colts coaches occasionally talked about how they wanted to improve on running the ball and stopping the run. Strangely, it seemed to go a little beyond wanting to just get better at it and more into giving the offense a run-based philosophy.
For a team that had just used it's first four draft picks on a quarterback, two tight ends and a wide receiver, that made zero sense. But it didn't end up mattering. Andrew Luck dropped back 703 times, second highest in the league, making the Colts throw it around more than ever. That the Bruce Arians' offense for you, whether they preach "run the ball/stop the run" or not.
But in this case, Hamilton has gone as far as giving the team an actual identity. Even with one of the best young quarterbacks and offensive weapons in the NFL at his disposal, he says the Colts are a "a physical, downhill running football team."
Irsay followed it up with this tweet this afternoon:
5 KEYS 1) Protect #12 better 2) Stop Run(In Top 10 in NFL) 3) Run the Ball(Top 10) 4) Outstanding Special Teams 5) Win 3rd Down/Defense— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) July 31, 2013
It's possible that Hamilton's comment isn't a big deal. Just some passing coach-speak during media interviews. And maybe we shouldn't put much stock into the owner said. But as someone who firmly believes the Colts could have a dynamic passing offense this season, I'm fearful that we'll see Andrew Luck handing the ball off instead of throwing in key situations too often for my liking.
Let me know what you think of Hamilton and Irsay's comments below. Here are some other highlights from today's media availability, with quotes from Hamilton, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and tight end Coby Fleener.
On moving multiple players around in the offense:
We challenge our guys to learn concepts, and not just learn individual routes. A big part of being able to find ways to feature our playmakers is our ability to move guys around, to present a lot of different formations and a lot of different personnel groupings and have a few basic concepts that we believe in and have had a chance to troubleshoot. Moving guys around is a big part of what we do. We want to find ways to create match-ups that are of course in our favor.
On Darrius Heyward-Bey:
He's fast. He's an explosive playmaker, and he's a pretty good run after the catch guy. And so we're excited about DHB...We would like for his hands to be a little more consistent, but he's working at it. He's putting the time in before and after practice. But the fact that he's able to get behind the defense is going to create some paranoia and give us opportunities to get the 1-on-1 match-ups outside.
On Griff Whalen:
I'm excited about Griff. I've been watching Griff play football since he was 19 years old. He's having a good camp so far. Still has a ways to go, but we're excited about Griff.
On Coby Fleener.
He's probably having the most productive camp, including his time in Stanford, that I've seen. In the time that I've been around Coby, he's a lot more explosive and confident right now. He's making plays that big-time NFL players tend to make...6'6, 250 pounds and he runs as fast as a wide receiver. So there's probably a good chance that he'll have the opportunity to run past a few safeties.
On Josh McNary:
Yeah, it's been a couple years, it's been two years that he's been serving in the military for our country. Now, it's pretty good. First night was the last time that we really got with him. Knowledgeable guy that really understands football and we'll see what he can do for the next couple of weeks.
On Erik Walden:
When we saw him coming out of Green Bay (and) picked him up as a free agent, he was a great player in the sense of setting the edge. We always talk about setting the edge on either side. That's what he did with the Packers, and that's what we expect him to do here...He played standing up of course, which we like. Good outside linebacker that has a decent amount of skills, and we like that about him. Over the next couple of weeks we'll see how his progress goes, but he's a talented player.
On a possible competition between Walden and Bjoern Werner:
Right now Bjoern is behind Robert on the other side. I think you always want to alternate those guys across the board, so a little bit, yeah.
On losing Brandon McKinney:
Anytime you lose a big guy like that that has some skills, you would have loved to have him. But that's the way football is sometimes.
On what LaRon Landry brings to the defense:
A physical toughness. A guy that can cover. A guy that can strike players and cover them as well, and that's what he does.
On if Landry brings a Bob Sanders-esque presence to the defense:
Yeah a little bit, having only seen one day in pads. But for the most part, he's a physical player and that's what we like about him.
On Darius Butler:
(He's) very important. He's playing nickel and corner for us. A guy that can make plays across the board. You saw him last year do that. He did a couple times in the first couple practices we had. Talented. He has a great ball skills. He's competing just like all the other players are, but I love him.
On Montori Hughes
Right now with Montori being where he is, it's a process like we always talk about. He is getting his pads a little lower. Playing the (3-tech), playing a little bit of nose. That's what we're experimenting with at those two positions. We're excited about what he can do. One day in pads, we'll see what he can do and how he improves.
On whether a familiarity with the scheme has helped his production:
Anytime you understand the offense, you feel more comfortable in being able to go out there and run as fast as you can and do your job at full speed as opposed to second guessing.
On his relationship with Dwayne Allen:
Dwayne and I get along great. Having him to push me and having me to push him I think has helped us both.
On how he judges him play:
You try to measure it from a mental aspect. Mental errors, missed assignments, stuff like that. And then from a physical standpoint, beating the guy across from me. I think that's what it all comes down to. Hopefully we can do more and more of that.