The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

August 2, 2013

Irsay turns to rival Patriots for inspiration

(Continued)

ANDERSON, Ind. —

Irsay said he's grown tired of the inconsistencies on defense — noting the breakdown in the rush defense at Jacksonville just weeks prior to the team's Super Bowl championship in the 2006 season — and he's even targeted improvement on special teams.

"We want to have greatness and toughness on defense and be bigger and more physical," he said, "and special teams, we want to cure that, particularly coverage and some of the breakdowns everyone knows we've had in the past that we never really got solved."

The Colts addressed those issues by adding defensive linemen Aubrayo Franklin (6-foot-1, 320 pounds) and Ricky Jean Francois (6-3, 297), outside linebacker Erik Walden (6-2, 250) and strong safety LaRon Landry (6-0, 226) and hiring Tom McMahon as their third special teams coordinator in the past three years.

None of which should be misconstrued as Irsay turning his back on the passing game. He made his confidence in quarterback Andrew Luck abundantly clear Wednesday.

Luck has shown greater command and confidence during his first full spring and summer of offseason work, and Irsay said the quarterback is able to react more quickly on the field because he doesn't have to focus on learning so many new things off it.

"I think that's going to show in his play, even though I think he was unquestionably the rookie of the year last year and I don't think there's any denying that of what we accomplished," Irsay said. "He's just going to keep getting better."

Irsay hopes the same is true of his team.

He mentioned a 6-10 season in 2001 and a devastating playoff loss at the New York Jets in 2002 as examples of steps backward for the franchise after Peyton Manning's breakout season in 1999.

With Manning under center, the Colts won seven division championships, two AFC titles and one Super Bowl crown from 2003-10. That run of excellence will be extremely difficult to match.

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