Pep Hamilton has a vision for the Indianapolis Colts’ offense and is familiar with its leader, Andrew Luck.
But Hamilton’s plan doesn’t rely solely on the skills of the Colts’ Pro Bowl quarterback. He envisions maximizing every Colt strength, and he insists there are many.
“Overall, it’s just a good stable of young football players that have had some success early in their career,” said Hamilton, hired Jan. 18 as offensive coordinator. “We’re going to look to build on that and ultimately accentuate the talents of our playmakers on offense.”
Besides Luck, who set rookie records for passing yards (4,374), attempts (627) and 300-yard games (six), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, running back Vick Ballard and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener were first-year players who played critical roles in the Colts’ march to the playoffs.
Moreover, 34-year-old wide receiver Reggie Wayne enjoyed one of the best seasons of his 12-year career, making the Pro Bowl for a sixth time and showing no signs of slowing down.
Hamilton, who joins the Colts after spending the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Stanford, wants to build on the foundation of predecessor Bruce Arians, who is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
“We’ll continue to work and develop that continuity. I mean, that’s where it all starts,” said Hamilton, who has had coaching stints with the New York Jets, San Francisco and Chicago. “I think it’s important that we have balance in our offense.
“We’re not just a one-dimensional football team. We want to create conflicts for our opponents.”
Although Hamilton plans to utilize every tool at his disposal, his brief but productive history with Luck is a plus.
Hamilton worked with Luck during the 2011 season at Stanford, where the quarterback threw for 3,517 yards and 37 touchdowns and finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. The Colts selected Luck with the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, and he more than lived up to expectations.
Luck directed the rebuilding Colts to an astonishing 11-5 regular-season record and improbable playoff appearance. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and is the undisputed foundation of not only of the offense but of the team’s fortunes.
Passing achievements notwithstanding, Luck established himself as a poised leader and an effective runner. He orchestrated seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime and rushed for 255 yards and five touchdowns.
“We have a guy in place that allows us to do whatever we see fit to get us a first down and get us some touchdowns,” Hamilton said.
He has had limited contact with Luck since being hired last month, but that will change in April, when the Colts begin in earnest the process of building on last year’s successes.
“Andrew has been on the go. I’ve seen him more on TV than I have here at the facility. He’s actually out of the country at the moment,” Hamilton said. “Not a lot of contact; really wasn’t necessary. It’s important for him to exhale for a moment. When we start back up in April, it’s full-speed ahead.
“It’s important for Andrew and for all the guys, particularly all the young players that were able to have some success and have an opportunity to play early in their careers, that they learned a lot from their experiences ... that they continue to grow and build on the success they were able to have.”
A proponent of the ball-control West Coast offensive scheme that’s centered on short passes and running, Hamilton is confident his approach will play to the Colts’ strengths. But at the end of the day, he insists execution will trump philosophy.
“You have to work at it. Everybody works hard in the NFL,” Hamilton said. “It’s not just about practice. It’s about perfect practice, details and exactness. Those are the things that ultimately win games.
“I’m sure everybody will be fired up about having the opportunity to build on the success of last year. To go into the playoffs and really keep the (first-round) game close and have a chance to win the game with the eventual Super Bowl champion, that’s incentive in itself to know that, ‘Hey, we’re not that far away.’”