Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay is Focused on "Right Now"
TERRE HAUTE – Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay is not thinking about the 37 training camps he has been to before this one.
He is not thinking about the team's Super Bowl victory in 2006.
Nor is he thinking about the Colts falling short in last year's playoffs.
The only thing Jim Irsay and the Colts are focused on is, "right now."
Irsay stopped by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Tuesday to deliver what could be considered his "State of the Colts" address. Speaking to a group of reporters, Irsay made his mindset clear about the upcoming season.
"What we have done in the past doesn't mean anything," Irsay said. "It is all about '09."
Just as Team President Bill Polian and Head Coach Jim Caldwell have said throughout camp, the Colts are not focused on who is missing or what they have accomplished in the past. As nice as those memories are, Irsay said the team is only interested in "the present."
After rattling off six consecutive 12-plus-win seasons and winning a Super Bowl during the run, Irsay said the next step for the Colts is to establish greatness, along the lines of the San Francisco 49ers in their golden years, when they won 10 games or more for 16 straight seasons and won four Super Bowls from 1983-1998.
"I can't believe in this era we were able to accomplish that," Irsay said, "and yet, right now, all that is a memory and in the past."
Irsay said one thing in particular gives him confidence the Colts can take it to the next level going forward.
"I know everyone is up for the task," he said.
Irsay said NFL teams are hungrier than ever and smiled when he said he realized few national media outlets are picking the Colts to win this season. But the owner provided a laundry list of reasons why he thinks his team is ready to become a championship team once again.
The main reason is Caldwell, who Irsay tabbed as former Colts coach Tony Dungy's replacement prior to the 2008 season.
"The best thing for the Indianapolis Colts was not letting him get away to another club," he said.
He described Caldwell as "outstanding," explaining, "He was not a hire out of convenience, but because he was the best guy there."
In addition to his confidence in Caldwell, Irsay said he is happy to have Senior Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore and Senior Offensive Line Coach Howard Mudd back and is really excited about the "most talented" Colts defense he has ever seen in training camp.
"We got a lot bigger on defense, a lot more physical. I think we are going to be even more aggressive on defense (this year)," Irsay said.
Irsay said it was time to tweak the "bend but don't break" defensive strategy and wanted his team to improve it's running attack and focus on limiting the amount of snaps opponents received over the course of a game.
"You can't have a glaring weakness and be a championship team. And we all know you have to be able to run the ball. And the way we were running the ball during the year concerned me, and those things catch up to you," he said.
But Irsay is not dwelling on the team's past hardships and is instead focusing on the upcoming season and the team's commitment to winning.
"You have to really want this thing. I know I can speak in this forum because I know the commitment I've made. If you told me, 'Hey, let's pack up everyone and we are going for four months to Alaska because that's what it is going to take to get ready to win this thing,' – I'm there.
"We know that the only thing that matters is Jacksonville (the team's regular-season opener)," Irsay said. "In terms of what we think about, there is nothing really on our mind except for Jacksonville in September."
"And everything else is irrelevant."