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Jim Irsay shares his thoughts on the Colts’ 2016 roster

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NFL: Peyton Manning-Press Conference Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you love him, hate him, or are somewhere in between, here’s something you have to acknowledge: for an owner, Jim Irsay knows football.

He’s among the most knowledgable owners in the NFL when it comes to understanding the game and understanding his team, and he displayed that knowledge when on 1070 the Fan with JMV on Tuesday afternoon. Mostly unprompted, Irsay gave a pretty thorough and honest assessment of his roster (at least for an owner) heading into week one.

In short, he’s really excited about the offense and knows the unit will need to carry them while the defense figures things out.

“I do think offensive line-wise we’re set,” Irsay said. “Joe Reitz will be at right tackle with [Denzelle] Good at right guard, and of course we’re excited about [Ryan] Kelly opening up at center. And [Jack] Mewhort will be out, he’s feeling really well though, by the way. And we may move him up… he is ahead of schedule. And of course, [Anthony] Castonzo anchoring that left tackle. So we feel good about it. Dwayne Allen’s healthy, all three receivers [T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett] are. But look at Chester Rogers has been so impressive too, we’d love to be able to see can we get the ball in his hands a couple of times, along with [Josh] Ferguson. I think we have some guys that can make some plays on offense. And I think the key, as you probably know, is, you’ve studied it yourself, this is a team that’s got to score 24 points-plus at home Sunday. The offense has to carry us while the injured young defense holds on and tries to find some playmakers and some health.”

After explaining that his expectation for his team is simply to begin the season 1-0, Irsay then explained more in-depth what his feelings on the team are.

“My expectation is we have to, offensively, be really productive,” Irsay reiterated. “And that means the offensive line has to come together. [Joe] Philbin’s been brought in, we have a lot of confidence in Chud [Rob Chudzinski] as the offensive coordinator, [Brian] Schottenheimer’s worked well with Andrew [Luck], Andrew’s feeling really healthy. Offensively with those three receivers, we should be able to put a lot of stress on the opposing defense. And look, we’re at home in a dome, so my expectation is that really offensively we really play well and Andrew gets mentioned as one of those three or four players in the league who’s a MVP-type of guy who’s really carrying us.”

Irsay is honest about Andrew Luck and the offense needing to carry the Colts, and the reason why is because the defense is dealing with some injuries and questions - which he proceeded to discuss.

“Defensively, obviously we’re missing Vontae [Davis] in a big way,” Irsay continued. “We miss [Clayton] Geathers, that was a really untimely injury, but we like what we see with Geathers and T.J. [Green] back there with [Mike] Adams, we like what that brings particularly for the long-term with T.J. and Geathers. At corner, we love Patrick Robinson, he’s hurt the groin a little but we hope that’s ok, but without Vontae in there that changes things a lot, so we have to deal with that. And [we’re] looking for a pass rush, as you know… Well, [we have a] new defensive coordinator [Ted Monachino] who believes in trying to create pressures in a lot of creative ways. So we hope to be able to do that. We have a lot of young guys that we hope to make a difference on defense, like [Hassan] Ridgeway. We want Sio Moore to be healthy; I tell you what, our defensive coordinator called Sio Moore the best athletic linebacker he’s been around in twenty-five years, so we’ve got to get him on the field and keep him healthy, though. As you know, health means so much in this league. The only reason I just came back from Canton, Ohio honoring Marvin Harrison is because he could line up game after game after game and be healthy. You can’t be a great player, you can’t even be a good player in this league, if you can’t stay healthy.”

Considering that entire exchange was almost all unprompted, that’s a pretty impressive overview of the roster from Jim Irsay, and I’ll point out a few notes from what Irsay said that I think are worth highlighting:

  • First, as you’ll note, Jack Mewhort won’t play on Sunday, which is no surprise but still worth mentioning.
  • Secondly, as Irsay was talking about Dwayne Allen and the top three receivers, notice who else he mentioned: undrafted free agents Chester Rogers and Josh Ferguson. Those are the only true depth players that Irsay mentioned as he provided his take on the roster, and I think that’s telling: it suggests that the Colts really like Rogers and Ferguson, as we’ve come to understand this offseason and in training camp too. I find it particularly interesting that Irsay mentioned Fergsuon, who was the only running back mentioned in the article. I don’t think we should make too much of it by any means, but it’s worth pointing out that both Chester Rogers and Josh Ferguson are on the owner’s mind - and if they’re on Irsay’s mind, we can make a safe assumption and say that they’re on Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano’s minds as well.
  • Third, Irsay sounded optimistic about Clayton Geathers and T.J. Green being the safeties of the future for the Colts, which is certainly a real possibility depending on how they play.
  • Fourth, the Colts seem to really like Sio Moore - with Irsay saying that Ted Monachino called Moore the most athletic linebacker he’s been around. It’s fair to wonder whether those feelings about Sio Moore helped make it easier to part ways with Nate Irving during final cuts, even though Moore is recovering from injury right now.
  • And fifth, I think Irsay was honest in acknowledging that the Colts are searching for a pass rush. We’ve heard Chuck Pagano and Ted Monachino acknowledge some of the questions at the position already, and Irsay is following suit. I think it’s refreshing honesty from the owner when he acknowledges that injuries will hinder the performance and that there are legitimate questions on the roster. And Irsay once again said what we’ve been hearing all along: Ted Monachino and the coaching staff will need to find ways to manufacture pass rush.

Overall, it was a good interview from Jim Irsay opening up on the state of his team, and he’s excited to get the regular season underway this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. As he said, his expectation is simply to begin the season 1-0, and that’s the Colts’ sole focus right now: winning the opener.