INDIANAPOLIS – How important was the Colts' hiring a new offensive line coach in 2016?
Owner Jim Irsay felt the need to meet with candidate Joe Philbin when the former Dolphins' head coach visited Indianapolis.
The offensive line is a crystal clear---arguably priority No. 1---focus for Irsay in 2016. The Colts Owner wanted Philbin to know the importance of improving that group.
"I heard his vision for the organization, the franchise and the team," Philbin said of his meeting with Irsay.
"I could feel the passion that he has for this football team, his football team."
It's been just one week on the job in Indianapolis, but Philbin has already been immersed into the football team he will be working with in 2016.
Philbin has made a concerted effort to touch base with his entire position group.
"You have to build a relationship with the players that you coach," Philbin says of the first thing he wanted to accomplish in joining the Colts staff.
"I've reached out to each and every one of them. I've talked to all of them on the phone. They seem like an outstanding group of men. Four or five of them have already stopped by the office and I've had a chance to visit with those guys in person. That's job No. 1, getting to know the people you are interacting with on a daily basis."
Next up for Philbin has been evaluating the personnel he will be working with when the offseason program starts up in April.
With the film up and running in the background on Friday, Philbin met with Colts.com to explain why virtually his entire coaching career has been about working in the trenches.
"They are the heart and soul of the football team, especially on the offensive side of the ball," Philbin says. "They kind of dictate the tempo of the team.
"As you know, we've got some outstanding skill players here in Indianapolis. Very, very fortunate (to have them). It's the O-line's job to let those guys make plays in a game, when it counts. You have to be unselfish. There is a great coordination that has to take place with the offensive line working together."
Philbin and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski are in the process of working through the language that will be used in 2016.
When the Colts reconvene in April for the team's offseason program, there will be some continuity within the offensive line room.
The Colts have only one unrestricted free agent up (Lance Louis) and could very well add new bodies through free agency.
What will Philbin be teaching?
"Football is a game of fundamentals, execution and team work," Philbin says. "Those are really the three things that you focus on along the offensive line. Whether it's run blocking or pass blocking, there's a certain way to do things.
"We all have to get on the same page, believe in what we're doing, believe in how we are doing it and then we have to function as a team. We can't have our own little groups. We have to be our own group and have pride in the offensive line."
It's a position group that Philbin hasn't coached directly in nearly a decade. When he did coach the line in Green Bay, the unit was one of the top units in the league in protecting the quarterback.
Since then, Philbin has spent five years as an offensive coordinator in Green Bay, followed by four seasons as the Dolphins' head coach.
Reports last week had teams coveting Philbin for a coordinator role in 2016.
But in the end, he saw the real vision Irsay was sharing with him.
"You're in the National Football League, you're competing at the highest level, you want to win championships and you want to be somewhere where there is a total commitment to winning championships," Philbin says.