INDIANAPOLIS – Two key components joined Indianapolis from Stanford in 2012, first- and second-round draft picks Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener.
A third migrated to Indianapolis recently when Pep Hamilton took over for departed offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
Last Year, The Cardinal was 12-2 compared to the Colts' 11-5, and Hamilton will construct an offense influenced by many as he points Indianapolis toward 2013.
"It's important that we have balance in our offense," said Hamilton. "We're not just a one-dimensional football team. We want to create conflicts for our opponents.
"We want to have the ability to not only push the ball downfield and hit the big play in the passing game, but we've got to be able to run the football and hammer the nail saw. We're going to work hard…to establish balance in the offense."
The Colts last year had an attack offense that was somewhat risk-reward. Luck (339-of-627 for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs) set NFL rookie records in attempts, yards and 300-yard games (six).
In a downfield attack, the Colts' 12.9-yard completion average was third-best in the league. Only five other teams topped a 12.0 average. According to Advanced NFL Stats, Luck was third in the league in percentage of deep attempts at 27 percent (passes where the targeted receiver is greater than 15 yards downfield).
He also was sacked 41 times and hit overall on an estimated 148 occasions. Those particular numbers registered with Hamilton.
"You start upfront with the offensive line," said Hamilton. "There are some guys that played extremely well over the course of the season. We'll continue to work and develop that continuity. That's where it all starts.
"We have to reduce the number of sacks we took last year. We're all aware of it. That will be one of our many goals as an offensive unit."
Hamilton spent three years at Stanford, joining Jim Harbaugh's staff in 2010 as receivers coach. He moved to coordinator when Harbaugh became the head coach at San Francisco in 2011.
Among those joining Harbaugh with the 49ers was Stanford offensive coordinator Greg Roman, clearing the way for Hamilton's promotion.
Under Harbaugh and Roman, San Francisco ran a wide-open attack in 2012 in reaching Super Bowl XLVII, and Hamilton mentioned the Colts' 2013 offense could have some similar elements.
"We have to play great situational football," said Hamilton. "On first and second down, there's no 'can't do's.' We'll do a great job of mixing in some power runs, mixing in the downfield passing game. Maybe even mixing in some wildcat plays. Mix in some read-option, pistol-type schemes. Just really try and present a lot of conflicts for our opponents."
Hamilton worked from 2000-09 with six NFL teams while building his base (2000, Kansas City; 2001, Washington; 2002, Baltimore; 2003-05, New York Jets; 2006, San Francisco; 2007-09, Chicago), tutoring quarterbacks in his last three stops.
Stanford built a 34-5 record during Hamilton's stay. In Luck's final year in 2011, Stanford averaged 43.15 points and rushed for 210.6 yards per game.
In 2012, the team held a 174.3 rushing average while joining Oregon and Wisconsin as the only schools with three straight BCS bowl game appearances.
Stanford beat four ranked teams to end the year (#13, Oregon State, #1 Oregon, #15 UCLA and then the Bruins again, ranked #17, the following week to reach the Rose Bowl). Stanford then beat Wisconsin to capture the school's first Rose Bowl since 1972.
Hamilton said the lure of Indianapolis trumped any offers he may have had, noting this is a chance to win the "championship of all championships."
"We're going to look to build on (the Colts' success) and accentuate the talents of our playmakers on offense," said Hamilton. "It's important that we all understand that we're a sum of all our parts offensively. We've got to do whatever it is that our players do well."