INDIANAPOLIS – The final, and most important, member of the Colts Big Three had his state of the union on Wednesday afternoon.
Jim Irsay, as always, had a lot to say on Wednesday, in recapping the Colts crazy 11-5 season, with a major offseason now awaiting the franchise.
The Owner is adamant that the Colts were, and remain, a Super Bowl contender.
Here are some of the highlights from what Irsay had to say:
-On his view of the Colts needing another QB: “Looking at this thing, you can’t go to an old book you have in your closet that George Halas gave you or something and try to find the right answers because it’s very thin margins when you’re trying to evaluate all that. First and foremost, I’d say in talking with Chris (Ballard), Frank (Reich) and myself, our beliefs are we are close. We have a tremendous nucleus of players that are capable of competing for the Super Bowl very soon. So ideally, if you can get someone to come in this year and several years after who is ready to go, it gives you your best opportunity and you don’t have as much of a maturation aspect of seeing them develop and get to that level that they need to get so you can get to a Super Bowl and win it. That being said, we’ll just have to see where opportunity pushes us because we really would love to be able to get a great young quarterback. Obviously, there are some out there that have been talked about coming out in this draft and we really just have to really evaluate and see where we are with them. If you would’ve asked Bill Polian and I this time of year in 1998, we couldn’t have told you yet about Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf and how that thing would’ve sorted out. So there is a lot of work to be done.”
-On balancing both trying to win now and still win 5-to-10 years down the road: “I think there is (a chance to do that). We feel that with the type of team that we have now, it would really benefit us the most if we could get (a quarterback) to come in that can play at a high level, that has veteran vision, veteran understandings of picking up things quickly, so we can get into 2020-21, and really have a chance to kind of take off where left off, but just tweaking some things so we are an even better football team. I really believe we can do that. I don’t know what path is going to be the best path, but there are so many multiple scenarios you can put together. There’s no question that if there is an individual or individuals out there that can come in with experience, I think that’s what it helps so much this year with Philip Rivers…That would be ideal. But I’ve always said I’m interested in winning more than 1 Super Bowl this decade. That’s what means the most and that’s our biggest goal. So I’m not going to go all-in for today and just say, ‘Forget the future. Let’s go all-in on now.’ And forget about this consistency of greatness and winning more than one Super Bowl, because that’s really what you want to do. I look at Chris Ballard and Frank Reich and what we are trying to accomplish. We want to be that team that won 2, at least, that won it in this part of the decade and that part of the decade. Faces changed but the principal players were there and that’s special. That’s really important to the franchise and we are always going to look at it, I won’t say in the long-term, because I think your roster dictates you look at it in the short-term and we know how close we are. With a full draft, and free agency, we are in a good cap situation, and that’s important.”
-On the draft and quarterback dilemma: “I want to reiterate that you can set yourself back by years in trying to do more than that is there. All the old draftniks would tell you, you take what the draft gives you. You can’t force it…You have to have a real discipline thought process, a check and balance thing to make sure if you are going to go after that guy, that he is the right guy.”
-On what other needs the Colts have this offseason: “We need another 1 or 2 big playmakers on offense, at tight end or wide receiver. We have a real interesting mix there. It’s amazing when you see 87 (Travis Kelce) and 10 (Tyreek Hill) in Kansas City, the things they do. It’s remarkable. I think we are looking offensively for a couple of more playmakers. We know with Anthony Castonzo retiring, we need to address that. Defensively, we need to continue to look at corner. You always need corners. And you need pass rushers.”
-On three-time All-Pro Quenton Nelson: “I hope people realize this really happens once or twice every 25 years. I was a kid going to Wrigley Field, with my dad before we owned the team, in ’65, ’66 and seeing Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus playing as rookies and being All-Pros, and with Darius (Leonard) and Quenton to do that and the be only other duo (to be All-Pros together as rookies), it’s remarkable. Quenton is a generational player. I see (John) Hannah and I see him. In the last 100 years, that’s how good Quenton is and as far as leadership and the type of team guy that he is, it’s off the charts. He’s why the Colts are a physical team. When you are coming to play us, you are coming to play the Big Q. He is the guy that represents us out there. Everyone on this roster knows that he is the alpha male, holding it down now. That is a tough guy. And his talents are just remarkable. If he stays healthy, he might make 14 All-Pro years in a row. I don’t know what to tell you…Quenton is really such a leader and we look at him in that way. He’s such a big focus of what the Colts are about and we are so lucky to have him. It’s special to watch. Pregame, I gave him a big powerful handshake, Viking handshake. I brace myself because he’s trying to be kind to me but he still almost rag dolls me around because he’s so strong. We love the Big Q in Indy.”
-On any recent talks with Andrew Luck about returning: “No. I think it kind of stands where it stands. I think like I said before, ‘Andrew is retired.’ He knows we would love to have him back. But only he can ever answer that question deep in his heart, deep in his soul, ‘Hey, do I really want to come back and be the quarterback of the Colts again in the NFL?’ It’s easy for us. He knows how much we would love to have him. There’s no question about that. At the same time, we know for it to work out, he has to be the one that says, ‘You know what, I’m ready. I want to create a little bit of history in an unprecedented aspect.’ If (Michael) Jordan could give him the fax number and say, ‘I’m back,’ I’d be all happy for Michael to give that to him. It’s about two years (into retirement for Luck), so I’ll be checking my fax machine (smiles). I don’t know if we’ll see that. He’s happy. He’s raising his daughter. He has a wonderful family. He’s a great Colt. He knows that he can come back anytime he wants but at the same time, we respect that he’s made that decision and we don’t want to be annoying. There’s no point to it. He knows we would love to have him back, but only he could decide that and right now he’s retired.”
-On if he thinks free agent T.Y. Hilton will be back for another season: “We would love to see T.Y. back. There’s no question about it. He’s such a great Colt. And what a competitor. And still has excellent skills and can take over a game. I think the biggest thing at this point in a career for athletes and you see it all the time, the competitive nature is there’s a business side to it. So you want a guy back but it has to fit into what you view, what the market place dictates it, what other teams and where someone’s value falls with the price line. The biggest thing I found is that you want guys who really want to be here, so sometimes if they don’t hit their price mark you don’t want them to be resentful saying, ‘I should have gotten more.’ So you are always wanting to make sure. We love T.Y. and we want him back. It’s a question of trying to find what that means financially? I know Chris and him will talk with his agent. We would love to have T.Y. back. He’s such a major Colt. You think of the great receivers in this franchise’s history and T.Y. has just done some of the most remarkable things that all the greats have done. You would love to see someone like T.Y. be back because he’s such a good man and he’s such an outstanding football player, and a selfless player. You are just hoping that it works out that way. The market usually dictates that. That’s the aspect of free agency. When all is said and done, I’m really hoping it works out, and that Chris can work it out with T.Y. and his agent and we find a way there because we are a better football team with T.Y., and we love him as a legacy player and a present player, and how he can help us get to where we want to go because he’s a great veteran leader and still has plenty of gas in the tank.”
-On if the Colts pursued Tom Brady: “Definitely, we looked at Tom and thought that would have been a great opportunity. But I think Frank really knew Philip well. They had worked together and there was such a great familiarity there that it seemed to be a great fit for us…”