Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

January 11, 2013

NFL: Irsay, Colts know restoration project not finished yet

Indianapolis owner’s gamble on a makeover seems to have paid off

INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Irsay’s decisions seem so logical now.

A year ago, he wanted new blood in the front office and on the sideline. He needed a plan for the future, and he had to clear a spot for a new franchise quarterback to grow, even if it meant cutting Peyton Manning.

Longtime Indianapolis fans and hordes of critics thought Irsay was crazy to turn the page on one of the most successful runs in league history and start completely over. But after one of the most remarkable one-year turnarounds in NFL history, all those moves may prove to be the future model for major rebuilding projects around the league.

“I didn’t want to flip it because I like continuity,” he told The Associated Press this week. “It was just, it needed to change. No one wanted to see or realize that it was over. But it was over.”

What Irsay could see so clearly then was the sun setting on the Manning era in Indy. If he wanted to give Indianapolis another decade to remember, he had to rebuild while he had the chance.

Buried under salary cap limitations and having to contend with more frequent injuries to aging stars, Irsay knew Indy wasn’t just getting older -- it was sliding further and further away from the Super Bowl. The Colts had gone from 14-2 in their 2009 AFC championship season to 10-6 and a first-round playoff exit in 2010 to 2-14 and the No. 1 overall pick last season.

So in the NFL’s version of a blink, Irsay made a clean, abrupt break with the past.

“It was just an incredible year,” Irsay said. “It’s one of those things that I think 15, 20 years from now, people will look at the way we reorganized our team and what we did and I can see where there might be an owner asking a GM that question about turning it around that fast and the GM will say that’s too unrealistic to think about. And I can see the owner saying, ‘Well, the Colts did it.’”

Duplicating what the Colts did in 2012 may be nearly impossible, though.

After losing coach Chuck Pagano for 12 weeks as he battled leukemia, Indy went 9-3 under interim coach Bruce Arians and made its first playoff appearance without Manning since 1996. The nine-win improvement, to 11-5, was better than all but two teams in NFL history -- the 1998 Colts and the 2008 Dolphins, who each won 10 more games than the previous season.

Andrew Luck delivered one of the best rookie seasons by any NFL quarterback and the newcomers produced more combined yards rushing and receiving than any rookie class since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. They did all that with a completely new offense, a shortened offseason program and a quarterback who really only got about two weeks to work with his teammates before training camp opened.

That’s why Irsay believes it’s only a start.

“I think if you go out and win six games with a rookie quarterback, that’s a hell of a year when you’re comparing it to Peyton’s 3-13 or Cam Newton’s 6-10,” Irsay said. “Winning 11 games and beating the Texans, who had so much to play for that last week, that was literally like winning a playoff game.”

Irsay knows the team still needs more help protecting Luck and more play-makers on defense. And if general manager Ryan Grigson does as well in this year’s draft as last year’s and spends wisely in free agency, the Colts are projected to be more than $40 million under the cap. Indy could be a significantly stronger club in 2013.

In some ways, all this is familiar to Irsay.

When he walked off the field at Minnesota in the 1997 season finale, Irsay knew he’d be choosing which of the two presumed franchise quarterbacks available, Manning and Ryan Leaf, he would take with the No. 1 pick. He cleared the way by firing general manager Bill Tobin, coach Lindy Infante and trading Jim Harbaugh, known as Captain Comeback, to Baltimore.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • PODCAST: TGN Sports Roundtable, Ep. 27

    TGN Sports Editor David Vantress and Sport Reporter Greg Keim give kudos to the four local runners who competed in the 2014 Boston Marathon and look ahead to a busy week in Michiana prep sports.

    Produced by Sheila Selman

    April 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Diamondbacks Cubs 100th Anniversary Baseball [Duplicate] CHICAGO BASEBALL: For Wrigley, it's party of a century CHICAGO -- For Wrigley Field, it really was the party of a century. Exactly 100 years after the Chicago Federals pounded the Kansas City Packers in the first game at Wrigley, the famed ballpark got quite the birthday bash on Wednesday afternoon. Hall

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Diamondbacks beat Cubs on Wrigley's 100th birthday CHICAGO -- On the 100th anniversary of the first game at Wrigley Field, the team with the worst record in the major leagues won. And it wasn't the Chicago Cubs. After an error by shortstop Starlin Castro, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied for five run

    April 24, 2014

  • GN140424 Mathis armor NFL:Mathis' leadership paying off for Colts INDIANAPOLIS -- An authentic set of battle armor greeted visitors to Robert Mathis' locker Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. The black-and-gold helmet and chest plate look more at home in one of the "300" movies, but they are the

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140424 goshen-warsaw baseball ambrose PREP BASEBALL: Tigers blank Goshen in NLC contest GOSHEN -- Wins have been hard to come by for the Goshen baseball team so far in 2014. That frustrating trend continued Wednesday night at Phend Field as the Redskins fell to visiting Warsaw, 9-0 in an NLC contest. With the loss, Goshen dropped to 1-9

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wrigley Baseball-30 [Duplicate] CHICAGO BASEBALL: Scorekeeper at Wrigley practices dying art CHICAGO -- Inside a dusty, dimly lit chamber of steel catwalks, Darryl Wilson peers out a square hole and into one of baseball's most revered shrines. For 23 years, Wilson has been a scoreboard operator at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Run

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140424 base nr nw 06 PREP BASEBALL: Youth is served NAPPANEE -- A youthful Northridge High School baseball team is being led by a youngster. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Andrew Kennedy tossed his second good outing in a row as he defeated the NorthWood Panthers, 5-3, in an NLC contest Wednesday even

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former shoe peddler tries to upend NCAA

    There are those who would argue that Sonny Vaccaro

    April 23, 2014

  • Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

    During a recent game at Wrigley Field

    April 23, 2014

  • Scorekeeper at Wrigley practices dying art

    Inside a dusty, dimly lit chamber of steel catwalks

    April 23, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued From Swimming Pool Raw: 3 American Doctors Killed in Afghanistan Raw: Obama Arrives at State Dinner in Tokyo Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Raw: Obama Visits Meiji Shrine in Tokyo Stars Talk Guns N' Roses at Golden Gods New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888 Oregon Gay Marriage Ban Goes to Court SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results