INDIANAPOLIS – When Colts offensive line coach Joe Gilbert sat down to begin the 2013 offseason, he began a project.
Taking a look around the NFL, Gilbert analyzed what successful offensive line groups were doing last season and how he could incorporate that into his first season as the head man in the trenches.
"There's not a lot of people on the offensive line that's going to win a lot of one-on-one battles," Gilbert said last month of his findings. "You see people trying to create double-teams, angles, things like that. I think those are the people that have success as far as the run game goes and that's what we're going to try to take advantage of."
In trying to move in that direction, the Colts spent to the 2013 offseason adding reinforcements to the offensive line.
Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson have preached the need for competition across the entire roster and that has certainly been made in Gilbert's unit.
"By bringing guys in like Gosder (Cherilus) and Donald (Thomas) the two vets and obviously drafting two guys with Hugh (Thornton) and Khaled (Holmes), we've done that," Gilbert said of adding to the competition. "The thing I think I've noticed in the room, it has been an improvement at the competition level, attention to detail. I think we can see that on the field."
"You want to create competition. If you have a preconceived notion of who's going to be where, I think you defeat the purpose. I think that's one of the reasons why we have the vets working as hard as they are. They've got some fresh legs behind them."
The unit has had a busy offseason with all the influx in talent learning a multitude of schemes.
Gilbert gave a sneak peak of what Colts fans will see from a blocking standpoint out of the offensive line this year
"We've got everything. We're a gap team. We've got gap schemes, we've got zone schemes, we've got man schemes," Gilbert said.
"I think the one thing we've got enough of in our arsenal is we can pick and choose game week going in and seeing how somebody is going to defend us. How can we take advantage of them personnel-wise? How can we create mismatches by formations and by scheme? I think that gives us a little bit of flexibility with what we have."
Gilbert is pleased with the mix he currently has and knows that once the pads are strapped on in training camp, the starting five and depth will work itself out.
While the blocking schemes and trying to pencil in the starting five are being debated, the top goal for whoever runs out there with the first unit on Sept. 8 remains pretty simple, yet extremely vital.
"Protection-wise obviously, every single day we want to keep 12 (Andrew Luck) upright; that goes without being. We need to improve in that area to protect Andrew and give him a chance to win games for us."