The Indianapolis Colts received quite a bit of ridicule on Wednesday over a new banner at Lucas Oil Stadium honoring the team as "2014 AFC Finalist." After all, the Colts did lose 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots to be the AFC's runner-up instead of the AFC's champion, and while it's not at all out of the norm for the Colts, it was still met with a lot of ridicule and a lot of joking from people nationally (and particularly in New England).
With all of the talk about banners, however, it's fitting that Robert Mathis used them to illustrate his goal for the 2015 season to his teammates. After their open mini-camp practice on Wednesday, the entire Colts team gathered together in the middle of the field to hear a passionate speech from owner Jim Irsay, who also presented Mathis with a nice watch for his winning of the Deacon Jones award in 2013 for leading the league in sacks. After his speech, Mathis pointed to the rafters at Lucas Oil Stadium and it was clear: he wants another banner. Not simply another blue "AFC South Champion" banner or "AFC Finalist" banner - which are certainly accomplishments, yes, but not the ultimate goal. No, in the midst of the smaller blue banners commemorating playoff appearances and division titles is a larger white banner that stands out. It reads: "2006 World Champions," in honor of the Colts' victory in Super Bowl XLI.
Getting another one of those, Mathis noted, is the goal for this year. Owner Jim Irsay echoed the sentiments.
"It's one of those things where, again, we all know the type of team that we have together and we know what lies ahead," tight end Dwayne Allen said tonight of that goal. "But it's us focusing on little things a game at a time that's going to get us to Santa Clara."
Safety Mike Adams was fired up after Irsay's speech as well, he noted, and said that, "[Irsay] has the same goals we have, to hang another banner up and to win that Super Bowl. That's what we want to do and that's the plan."
"[He] just reiterated what we're chasing," Chuck Pagano said. "We're chasing greatness. What we're trying to build here and what we're going after. No one has more passion and love for the game and all those kind of things [than Irsay]. He just wanted to let the guys know that we have something special going on and we can have a special season."
The Indianapolis Colts clearly have very high expectations in 2015, and they're going for the Super Bowl. We can discuss an "AFC Finalist" banner all we want, but that's not the goal. The Colts absolutely want to add another banner to Lucas Oil Stadium after next season is over, but they're going for one of those banners that sticks out from the rest. The ones that commemorate Super Bowl champions. That's the goal for the Colts in 2015, and they're fired up to work toward it.