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Rebuilding? Yes, that’s what the Colts are doing.
But after 22 regular-season wins, two playoff trips, a division title and a postseason victory in the past two seasons, they are doing it at an unbelievably accelerated pace.
Lament and gnash your teeth all you want about how the season ended, but were the Colts following the standard rebuilding paradigm, you would lament and gnash your teeth for an entirely different reason.
The Colts would be losing. Early, often and badly.
That’s hardly been the case.
Often sloppy, seldom smooth but (almost) always competitive, the Colts, record-wise, bear no resemblance to a franchise in flux — which they are. Pieces continue to come and go and will continue to do so. But in the fledgling Andrew Luck era, the Colts are winners.
They shouldn’t be, but they are.
Building from the basement up usually requires years, if not a decade or more, to complete the job.
Some have fleeting success along the way. Some don’t. And some never get it done at all (think Detroit and Cleveland).
But the Colts have done what few, if any, NFL teams have ever done during a complete overhaul: They’ve won every step of the way. Not every game and not with clockwork efficiency, but they’ve won regularly, won with flair and won with a roster that, apart from a few notable exceptions, is void of household names.
By any measure, that’s rebuilding on a lightning scale. In many ways unprecedented, in all ways remarkable.
In the NFL, it just isn’t done like this. And we’re not just talking about hitting a lucky player jackpot with roster additions. We’re talking a complete franchise makeover, from the front office on down.
Apart from the owner (the only one who seems to criticize the product), virtually everything about the Colts is new. From the general manager to the head coach to the quarterback to the great majority of the supporting cast, these are new people not only to the organization but to their respective roles.
When this began two years ago, Ryan Grigson had never been an NFL general manager. Chuck Pagano had never been an NFL head coach. Andrew Luck had never thrown an NFL pass. And several other Colts had never appeared in an NFL game.
Even the offense was new. So was the defense.
So much about the Colts was new that “rebuilding” might be a misnomer. “Creating” might be a more applicable term. They tore apart what had been in place, foundation included, and started from scratch.
Two years later, here they are, still a work in progress, with lots of work ahead. Players will come and go, and disappointment occasionally will dampen heightened expectations.
But if 11-5 seasons, AFC South titles, consecutive playoff appearances and wild-card wins constitute “lean years,” imagine the harvest the years will bring.
If the past two seasons are any indication, we won’t wait long to see it.
Rick Morwick is the sports editor of the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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