Indianapolis Colts: Tom Brady

Peyton ManningAP Photo/Michael Conroy
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 This is the last of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating to when they moved to Indianapolis in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The second was cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady with 18 seconds left to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.

Score: Colts 34, Chargers 31
Date: Dec. 26, 2004. Site: RCA Dome

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It didn't seem like Peyton Manning would break Dan Marino's season touchdown passing record on this day. For 59 minutes you thought Manning would have to wait until the season finale against the Denver Broncos to pass the record.

Manning was untouchable by defenders all season leading up to the Week 16 game against San Diego.

But the Chargers sacked him four times, forced two fumbles and intercepted him once.

With the game on the line, though, Manning did what he does best: Be clutch.

Manning shook off the play call that came in through his headset and decided to make a backyard play call to receiver Brandon Stokley.

Manning told Stokley to run a post route.

Lined up in the slot, Stokley threw the defense off balance by faking a fade to the corner and cutting back inside on the post to catch the 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning. Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was faked out so badly by Stokley looking as though he was going to run the corner route that he fell in the end zone.

"You think the NFL is real complex," Manning told reporters after the game. "But it turns into street ball real quick."

The touchdown pass was the 49th of the season thrown by Manning, breaking the record set by Marino in 1984.

"It says a lot about Peyton that here we are, the game on the line, and he calls a play we've never run before," Stokley told reporters. "He calls a post. I just didn't want it to hit me in the face."

Manning spent the weeks leading up to that game talking about how playoff seeding was more important than passing Marino's record. The Colts beat the Chargers in overtime.

"At the time I threw it, there wasn't a lot of emotion for me, because if we don't get the 2-point conversion, this is a down locker room right now," Manning said after the game. "The fact that it happened, we won the game ... . It sure made for an exciting day."

 
Marlin JacksonAlbert Dickson/Sporting News/Getty Images
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This is the second of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating back to when they moved from Baltimore in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The final play is Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004.

Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34
Date: Jan. 21, 2007 Site: RCA Dome.

The Colts were down 21-6 at halftime when coach Tony Dungy gave his team a speech that even had his players wondering what he was talking about.

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Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson, who sealed the 18-point come-from-behind victory for Indianapolis with an interception with 18 seconds left in the game, gives a breakdown of what happened on that late-January day in 2007.

“The speech Coach Dungy gave was quite simple and for us it quite shocking at the same time when he said it. He came in with his cool, calm demeanor. Most coaches wouldn’t be cool and calm at that point in the game. He said it almost jokingly. He goes, ‘You know we got them right where we want them.' He said, 'We’re going to come out after halftime we’re going to go down and score, we’re going to stop them, we’re going to score again and we’ll be right back in the game.’ We were like, ‘We got them what?’ That’s exactly what happened. I think it was his demeanor not as much as what he said, but the way he came across that there was no doubt in his mind that we were going to win the game. We fed off his interview at halftime.

"As far as the play goes, I remember leading up to that play there was a sense that they were coming out in a certain formation. It was trips to my side. Troy Brown was in the slot and a receiver to the outside. I can’t remember the tight end as the third guy. They were pretty much running the same play two to three times in a row, trying to hit the tight end down the seam. It was obvious the first two times when they were dumping the ball down to the back out of the backfield.

"On the actual play, I saw the formation was the same thing so I backed up deeper so I didn’t have to take a deep drop and actually have it be a wasted step making my break on the ball because I was anticipating he was going to go to the tight end in the seam. I knew because of my film study that [Tom] Brady always in those types of situations would throw blindly in the opposite direction and that’s exactly what he did. Snapped the ball, looked opposite of me so I knew once he turned back my way I had already broke on the tight end, which allowed me to get a great jump to make the play and get the interception.

"For me it was a moment of disbelief, like did that really just happen? Did I really just make that play? We were now going to the Super Bowl. It was even sweeter because it was a victory over the New England Patriots. That made it even more special because of the history of the organization leading up to that game. They were a nemesis of ours for years. We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy.”
 
T.Y. HiltonBrian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Colts' history dating back to when they moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984. In the next two days we'll feature: Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004, and cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.

Score: Colts 45, Chiefs 44
Date: January 4, 2014 Site: Lucas Oil Stadium

Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck was playing in his first home playoff game, against a team he had beaten two weeks earlier.

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But the Colts didn't know what hit them.

Seven-point deficit. Ten-point deficit. Seventeen-point deficit. Twenty-one point deficit. The deficit grew as large as 28 points, and many of the Colts fans at sold-out Lucas Oil Stadium sat stone-faced, not believing what they were watching on the field.

Luck wasn't helping the situation. He looked like a rookie quarterback taking his first snaps. His third interception of the game gave the Chiefs a short field to work with, which they used to increase their lead to 38-10 just 81 seconds into the second half.

“[Luck] kept telling us, even at 38-10, 'We're going to win this game,'" offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo said.

Luck wasn't worried about the double-digit deficit. He proved six prior times in his young career that he could lead the Colts back from a double-digit deficit.

Luck -- pun intended -- was on the Colts' side. Trailing 41-31 early in the fourth quarter, Colts running back Donald Brown fumbled a handoff and the ball bounced off of center Samson Satele's helmet. But Luck picked up the ball and ran in from 5 yards out to cut Kansas City's lead to 41-38.

Indianapolis completed the improbable comeback when Luck stepped up in the pocket and found receiver T.Y. Hilton streaking downfield for a 64-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game.

The 28-point comeback was the second-largest in NFL playoff history. Long snapper Matt Overton called it an, “Instant ESPN Classic,” after the game.

“[Luck's] not giving you a bunch of bulls--- when he says that stuff,” Castonzo said. “At no point does he not believe we're not going to win. He's led us on a lot of comebacks for a reason. The guy does not freak out.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is headed into his third season. He has played in three playoff games -- winning one -- and has had two offensive coordinators in his first two seasons.

Luck
Luck also has 22 regular-season victories, an arm, mobility and the will the win. That is why ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando, with the help of anonymous league insiders Insider, views the Colts’ franchise player as a top-five quarterback in the league.

Luck is ranked higher than fellow quarterbacks like Manning. No, not that Manning, but Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.

The quarterbacks are broken up into four tiers. Luck is in Tier 1 with all future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. He joins Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in that top tier. Impressive company for a third-year player.

Here is what Sando wrote about Luck:

"Luck doesn't have the track record of the other Tier 1 QBs, and there was a clear gap in the voting between him and the top four. But people in the league love him almost unconditionally, and 14 of the 26 voters insisted upon putting him in the top tier (each of the top four received 25 of 26 Tier 1 votes).

The evaluators think Luck has carried a subpar roster to a 22-10 record without much help. They see no limitations. They have zero doubt about his long-term stardom and felt strongly enough to give him 14 first-tier votes even while acknowledging he is below the Big Four at this early stage. Every other QB fell into the tier in which he received the most votes, and so shall Luck, even if his Tier 1 designation feels a bit premature."

The Colts' offensive line was atrocious Luck’s rookie season and only a little better last season. Luck didn’t have a reliable receiver to turn to outside of T.Y. Hilton after Reggie Wayne went down with a torn ACL in Week 7 last season. The running game? That was a problem, too.
INDIANAPOLIS – It wouldn't be surprising if the reaction to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's new $110 million deal, which includes a record $61 million guaranteed, went something like this from the important figures inside the Indianapolis Colts' organization:

Owner Jim Irsay started squirming after realizing he'll likely have to pay quarterback Andrew Luck even more than that.

General manager Ryan Grigson was probably like, "This is why I had to be frugal and not free-spend during the offseason."

Luck, in typical Luck fashion, probably didn't have much reaction because he doesn't operate like that.

You can spend plenty of time debating whether Kaepernick is worth the contract. You can't knock somebody for getting paid. But no matter how you look at Kaepernick's huge payday, just know that the Colts should prepare themselves because they'll have to pay Luck even more money than what the 49ers quarterback got once he's eligible for a contract extension next year.

Why?

Luck is a better quarterback.

I know, I know, Kaepernick plays in the toughest division in the NFL -- the NFC West -- and he's been to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game twice in as many seasons.

But just like the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, Kaepernick gets help from a very good defense and running game to assist with the passing game.

Luck?

The Colts' defense has been a weak link outside of Robert Mathis' 19.5 sacks last season.

A running game?

Now that's funny.

Luck has overcome those flaws to lead the Colts to 22 victories and the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. He's done it with some late-game heroics, too.

Kaepernick is 21-8 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Luck is 22-10 and 1-2 in the playoffs.

Kaepernick has thrown for 5,046 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career. Luck has thrown for 8,196 yards, 46 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in his career.

Grigson knows at some point, he'll have to pay Luck and some of the other players in the 2012 draft class. He openly said so during the combine in February.

Here's a breakdown of guaranteed money given to active quarterbacks:

Kaepernick: $61 million
Matt Ryan: $59 million
Tom Brady: $57 million
Drew Brees: $55 million
Tony Romo: $55 million
Aaron Rodgers: $54 million
Jay Cutler: $54 million

Kaepernick set the bar with the contract Wednesday afternoon. Now you should expect Luck to surpass it.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There is no better time for an offseason power ranking than right after the draft, because that is the unofficial ending of the major moves made by teams.

Teams will continue to tinker with their roster, but the draft is compete and the majority of the headline-making moves are complete.

ESPN.com's post-draft Power Rankings, based teams' offseason moves, were released Tuesday. The Indianapolis Colts are seventh in the rankings up one spot from the season-ending rankings.

To no surprise, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are at the top of the rankings. From an AFC standpoint, the Colts are third behind Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (2nd), who lost to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (4th).

I think the Broncos are still the class of the AFC after they added DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward on defense to go with Manning and that high-powered offense.

I only give the Patriots the edge over the Colts because they beat Indianapolis in the playoffs last season, and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has struggled in two games -- seven interceptions -- against New England.

The Colts didn’t make a major splash in the offseason, but they continued to add offensive weapons to go with Luck’s arm, feet and ability to pull off the unthinkable. Questions at center and safety will remain until Khaled Holmes (center) and Delano Howell prove they are the right players to start at those positions.

The Colts will be able to see how they match up with those teams next season. They play the Broncos in Week 1 and the Patriots in Week 11.

Mailbag: Hakeem Nicks back up plan

April, 19, 2014
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ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando has an interesting piece on which current NFL quarterbacks are worth No. 1 overall picks. The Houston Texans have the No. 1 overall pick next and there seems to be a strong consensus that there's not a sure-fire quarterback worth taking No. 1 overall in this year's draft.

Sando has quarterbacks divided into four tiers: Clearly worth a No. 1 overall pick, Close but not quite, You could make an argument for them, and On their way, but not there yet.

To no one's surprise, former Colts and current Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is at the top of the list. Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances, been been named league MVP a record five times and his place in the Hall of Fame is assured once he retires.

The other not surprising pick -- outside of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees of course -- is Andrew Luck. Luck has lived up to the talk of being the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since Manning. Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons despite offensive line problems, lack of a running game in his second season and not having his head coach most of his rookie season. He has yet to lose back-to-back games in his NFL career.

Remember Robert Griffin III, the player some thought the Colts should take over Luck in 2012? He's in the lowest tier. Griffin's knee injury has kept him from being in a higher category. He'll join Luck, Brady, Manning and others in the top category before it's all said and done.
The Indianapolis Colts moved up 33 spots from last year when it comes to the average salary paid to their players, according to the ESPN The Magazine/Sportingintelligence Global Salary Survey.

The Colts paid their players an average of $2 million last season. That’s a 32.6 percent increase from the 2012 season. Colts owner Jim Irsay paid $108.3 million worth of salaries in 2013.

The NBA and its guaranteed salaries is the highest-paying league in the world. About $2 billion was paid to 441 players, for an average salary of $4,522,283 per player, according to the Global Salary Survey.

When it comes to having the highest-paid athletes in the world, the Colts do not have anybody in the top 25. They don’t even have one of the top-10 highest-paid players in the league. Linebacker Robert Mathis will be the team’s highest-paid player at $8.75 million next season. Don't be surprised to see quarterback Andrew Luck become one of the highest-paid players in the world at some point in his career.

Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is No. 16 in the world and No. 7 in the NFL at $25 million.

The Colts will face four of the highest-paid players in the world during the 2014 season. Manning, Dallas’ Tony Romo ($26.5 million), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco ($30 million) and New England’s Tom Brady ($31 million) are all ranked.

Free-agency review: Colts

March, 18, 2014
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Most significant signing: The Colts needed a legitimate cornerback to deal with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC. They had one on the roster last season and they just couldn’t let him go once free agency started. Indianapolis re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis to a four-year, $39 million contract that includes $20 million guaranteed. Now Davis has to live up to the contract and avoid the lapses he had at times last season.

Bethea
Most significant loss: Safety Antoine Bethea was the backbone of the secondary. He started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. But Bethea knew there was a good chance he would be playing with another team next season. He signed a four-year deal with San Francisco hours into free agency on March 11.

Biggest surprise: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was the Colts’ most effective running back last season. His days with the team appeared to be numbered after a neck injury ended his season after Week 3 -- not because the Colts didn’t think he could be effective, but because they already had Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard on the roster. Bradshaw signed a one-year deal to return and hopefully give the Colts three effective running backs next season.

What’s next? The Colts need to find somebody to replace Bethea and start alongside LaRon Landry in the secondary. They also need to finish addressing the interior part of the offensive line. A possible guard isn’t out of the question, and they need to determine whether Cleveland center Alex Mack is worth throwing a lot of money at since the Browns used the transition tag on him, and considering Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa last week.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson didn't have time to spare five minutes on the phone to do an interview. He was too busy talking and wearing his thumbs out texting agents as he prepared for the start of free agency.

The questions, just three of them I might add, were sent via email to the Indianapolis Colts general manager.

"In the middle of free agency, I felt like I had a homework assignment due," Grigson jokingly wrote after answering the questions.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grigson
AP Photo/Johnny VyRyan Grigson and the Colts have set the expectations high, and nothing short of the Super Bowl will suffice for the general manager.
If you know Grigson, you know he's always working, never settling for what happened in the past. He's that nonstop workaholic who is always believing another move should be made to improve the team.

That mindset was a necessity for Grigson when he took over for the fired Bill Polian in 2012. The Colts were coming off a 2-14 season after which they not only dismissed Polian, but also said their final goodbyes to quarterback Peyton Manning after 14 years, 11 playoff games and two Super Bowl appearances.

So the rebuilding process couldn't take long for Grigson, the first-time general manager. Not with holdovers like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea used to winning.

Grigson is headed into Year 3 of not rebuilding the Colts, but building off the success the franchise has had in the past two years.

They're 22-10 and made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, while dealing with the loss of coach Chuck Pagano for 12 games while battling leukemia in 2012 and the loss of five offensive starters last season.

"The element of surprise kind of goes away when you have such high expectations," Grigson said. "This is a winning organization and the bar is set high. I think that kind of environment is a healthy one for everyone involved. I'd hate to be somewhere that your expectation was anything less than being Super Bowl champs every year."

Grigson and Pagano walked into the perfect situation.

Andrew Luck, the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since, well, Manning in 1998, led an impressive Colts 2012 draft class that also included receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

Grigson's obsessive, always-needing-to-be-working mindset is in high gear because the Colts are in position to take another step in the AFC next season. Manning and New England's Tom Brady are a year older and moving another step toward the Hall of the Fame.

Now it's up to Grigson to add the proper pieces around Luck. This is the perfect time for the general manager to redeem himself after his 2013 offseason moves didn't live up to expectations.

"No matter the circumstances, the last two years we expected to be in the Super Bowl and believed in that goal until the last tick came off the clock," Grigson said. "Year 3 will be no different; we just have to find a way to see it all the way through."

Indianapolis went into free agency on Tuesday with the fifth-most salary cap space.

Just like in Green Bay, players want to play in Indianapolis despite the small-market mentality some have about the city.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who the Colts signed to a four-year deal on March 6, was attracted to the franchise's history of success. That's understandable after he spent his first eight years in Cleveland, where that organization appears to be just spinning in circles.

Pagano is more than a coach to the players. He's the person who will ask a player about his off-the-field life nearly as much as he talks about offensive and defensive schemes.

"Having a sitdown dinner with him, I knew right away he was a good guy," Jackson said. "We barely talked football. Any time you can do that, you know you're dealing with a good guy. He's been through a lot in his life, obviously. The guy is high on life and I want to be around people like that."

Luck's arm, legs, smarts and mental toughness are the main reasons why the transition from the Manning era hasn't been too turbulent. It's also why Indianapolis is an organization that will remain a destination for free agents as long as the kid from Stanford is taking the snaps from center.

Former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks has already publicly talked about wanting to catch passes from Luck.

"First of all, winning makes you an attractive team," punter Pat McAfee said. "But I think the chance to hitch your wagon to an up-and-coming, hopefully Hall of Fame quarterback, which [Luck] should be, I think that's a big deal for a lot of the older guys that are looking for a ring, or maybe for the younger guys that are trying to jump-start their career. I think Indianapolis is becoming a very, very promising-looking destination for a lot people who want to win and hitch their wagon to a player who's going to be great for a very long time."


INDIANAPOLIS -- Vontae Davis had to his due diligence and listen to other teams.

But deep down inside Davis knew he wanted to return to the Indianapolis Colts. Davis knew the Colts were more than just a football team that practiced together and took the field together on Sundays. There's a brotherhood inside the organization, the kind Davis didn't have in his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

That's why brotherhood -- and a whole lot of money -- brought Davis back to the Colts. He agreed to a four-year, $39 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

“I hate for it to be the business side,” Davis said. “If there wasn't a business side of football and it wasn't about business, I would still choose to be back with the Colts. So that just says a lot about how strong the organization is. My teammates are like brothers. It's a brotherhood. When you go to the Colts, it's something that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”

Davis was the primary target for the Colts when it came to re-signing their own players. He has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. It's simply a matter of putting it all together and avoiding lapses in his play.

“He is a rare talent at 25 years of age who is still ascending as a player,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson said. “We are excited to see him reach new heights in his career and help us attain our ultimate goal.”

The Colts showed their faith in Davis by giving him such a lucrative deal. It's said with money comes pressure.

Not so, Davis said.

"You can't let it impact (your play)," he said. "If I was making a dollar, it wouldn't matter. You just have to go out there and play. The organization has trust in me enough to obviously bring me back. I just have to continue to work hard and I think everything will work out for itself.”

The Colts had a solid tandem at cornerback with Davis and Greg Toler -- when he was healthy -- last season. Davis fed off of Toler's aggressive approach. Davis' best game was against the Denver Broncos when he had five tackles and two passes defended. He was so worked up that he referred to Peyton Manning as New England's Tom Brady in a postgame interview on the field.

Davis joined linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and safety/special teams ace Sergio Brown as defensive players the Colts signed on the first day of free agency.

“Every team, coming into the season is a new year,” Davis said. “We have to come in and work hard to get back to where we were at last year. I think just moving forward, coach (Chuck) Pagano, Grigson, they're doing a great job of building this team up.”

NFLN survey/Super Bowl QB: Colts

January, 29, 2014
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Two minutes remaining. Need a touchdown to win the Super Bowl.

Who do you want under center leading the game-winning touchdown drive?

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger. What about Eli Manning?

It turns out 40 percent of the 320 players asked picked Brady as part of the NFL Nation survey. Manning, who will be quarterbacking the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl on Sunday, finished second behind Brady with almost 26.9 percent of the votes. Brady has led the New England Patriots to five Super Bowls, winning three of them. You're in good hands with Brady or Manning in the final two minutes of a game. Plenty of defenses from around the league can vouch for that.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has led the Colts to seven victories when they’ve trailed by double digits in his 35-game NFL career. Next up for him is to lead the Colts to the Super Bowl. The top six vote-getters – Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Roethlisberger and Eli Manning – have all played in Super Bowls.
INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s easy to sit back and say the Indianapolis Colts would have been a better team if Reggie Wayne’s season hadn’t ended in Week 7 with a torn ACL.

If the Colts hadn’t lost four other offensive players to season-ending injuries and placed a total of 17 players on injured reserve.

If Trent Richardson had run the ball better.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
Elsa/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck and the Colts appear to be in solid position to make a return to the playoffs.
It the defense hadn’t given up so many big plays.

Those are all true, there’s no denying it. But the Colts overcame those problems to take the next step in their progression by advancing to the AFC divisional round of the playoffs. In the regular season, they beat three of the four teams -- Denver, Seattle and San Francisco -- that are playing in the AFC and NFC championship games this weekend.

General manager Ryan Grigson has work to do this offseason because the Colts have issues that need to be resolved, but there’s reason to have optimism for them in the 2014 season.

New England quarterback Tom Brady and Denver’s Peyton Manning, the Colts’ biggest competitors for the top spot in the AFC, will be a step closer to retirement, as Brady will be 37 years old and Manning 38 at the start of next season.

Not many people outside of the Colts' organization believed the transition from the Manning era would move along this quickly.

Year 2 just ended.

“The sky is the limit,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’ve got a great group here. We’ve got the foundation that we laid. I credit our players for buying in. They’ve never wavered. To have two 11-win seasons back-to-back, win the division, sweep the division in your second year, win a playoff game in your second year, coming into the situation that we came into, coming off of a 2-14 season, losing all the players that we lost.”

Grigson has to step back for a little bit before jumping the gun and saying what needs to be fixed on the roster. The offensive line was inconsistent. The running game wasn’t dominant. The defense was just as inconsistent as the offensive line. Quarterback Andrew Luck covered up some of those flaws with his talent.

“It's hard to say right now definitively what needs to be fixed, even though we have the full body of work at our disposal from all the film we've watched, because there's still emotion involved. So, I think you need to step away. We need to have discussions,” Grigson said. “Everybody wants to have it now in the microwave society and open the microwave door before the time's even up. But we've got to have some patience and build this thing the right way."

You never know how players will be coming off injuries, but the Colts feel good about their group of injured players. Wayne, tight end Dwayne Allen, guard Donald Thomas and running back Vick Ballard will be great readditions to the roster if they can regain their form. They were all starters before their injuries.

The Colts should have more than $30 million in salary-cap space to try to improve the roster.

“You win in this league with great quarterbacks, and we have a great one,” Grigson said. “We have to keep surrounding him with the right people that are like-minded, that are aspiring to greatness like he does every single day when he walks in this building and when his head hits the pillow at night. Those are the type of guys we need. ... We’re going to keep infusing this team with players and building in areas that we feel like we can improve on.

“So we’re all very optimistic because, just in the progression we’ve been going, that obviously would be the expectation is we want to be heading in that direction, to win a championship and to keep winning them. That’s what our owner's charged me with building, so that’s where my mind’s at.”

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