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Jim Irsay says Colts' offensive line must improve

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Colts owner Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star that the team's offensive line must improve - not just regarding their talent level but also their pride in protecting Andrew Luck as well.

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If there's one area that the majority of Colts fans seems to want the team to address this offseason, it would be the offensive line.

There's no denying the fact that Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck have been hit more than they should, while the running lanes were often hard to come by this year for Frank Gore.  There were periods of solid play from the line, but most realize that the team still needs to improve at the area.

Colts owner Jim Irsay agrees with the sentiment, as he too thinks the Colts' offensive line needs to improve moving forward.  But one of the aspects he thinks that improvement needs to happen in might be a bit surprising: pride.

"We want some leadership," Irsay told the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel.  "When Howard Mudd was here and it was Jeff Saturday and Tarik Glenn, the mantra was, ‘No one touches 18! His jersey doesn't get a spot of dirt on it!'  I mean, it was the pride of the building.  I can't tell you the way those offensive linemen carried that pride.  We have to get back to that."

Doyel notes that Irsay got animated when talking about the offensive line, raising his voice and pounding his desk.  In other words, this seems like an issue that Irsay is passionate about and really thinks needs to get better.  His point is that when Howard Mudd (the Colts' offensive line coach), Jeff Saturday (the Colts' center), and Tarik Glenn (the Colts' left tackle) were protecting Peyton Manning, the group took a lot of pride in keeping the quarterback clean.  The current group, according to Irsay, doesn't take the same level of pride in keeping Andrew Luck standing.

It's a very interesting comment from Irsay, because it's not focusing so much on the talent level of the unit but rather the motivation of the unit.  While it does seem like Irsay would agree that the talent level of the line needs to improve, it also seems like he thinks perhaps the biggest issue is that the line doesn't care enough or doesn't take enough pride in their job of protecting the quarterback.  It's an attitude issue.  That's what makes the comments especially interesting, but it's hard to say that the owner of the franchise is wrong.

Irsay also told WTHR's Dave Calabro that the offensive line is a major priority this offseason and that the team can build around left tackle Anthony Castonzo and left guard Jack Mewhort.  He's absolutely right in both regards - the line should be addressed this offseason and Castonzo and Mewhort are definitely guys the Colts don't need to upgrade.  With a number of other areas of need, however, it will be interesting to see just how much the Colts put into improving their offensive line this year.  Regardless of how much effort they put into improving the talent level, however, Jim Irsay thinks the pride of the unit needs to improve as well.