It’s rare that a franchise’s leader openly admits to modeling his team after the team’s most heated rival of the past decade. That is exactly what Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has done, saying that this latest incarnation of the Colts is actually emulating the 2004 New England Patriots.
Indianapolis fell 27-24 to New England in the season opener that year, and eventually exited the playoffs in a suffocating 20-3 divisional round loss. Then of course, there is the general domination over Indy and the NFL in that era by the Pats, which Peyton Manning wouldn’t curb until the Super Bowl run in 2006.
“It was one of the more complete teams that there was,” Irsay said Friday from Colts training camp, via the Indianapolis Star. “There wasn’t humongous offensive statistics and (Tom) Brady didn’t throw 50 touchdown passes, but it was such a well-balanced team in all areas … It was a tough team to get past. That’s what we’re looking for.’’
The Patriots went 17-2 during one of the most utterly dominant campaigns in history back in 2004. However, much the Pats teams of the early aughts weren’t all that flashy in the most prominent statistical areas. This squad finished first in scoring differential, but the 2003 and 2011 Patriots championship teams finished just sixth and seventh respectively.
Perhaps it won’t be long before this Indy iteration rises up this ranking, as the Colts finished just 21st in scoring differential last season. Two areas must be fixed first to mirror the 2001-2004 Pats: finishing No. 29 against the run and No. 21 in points allowed in 2012.