WESTFIELD, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was so irate following his team's season-ending loss last season that he summoned his head coach and general manager to his office for a tongue-lashing mere hours later.
That's why Irsay's adamant statements Wednesday about the importance of winning the AFC South should not be overlooked. It's a continuation of the demands he has been making since the end of the 2021 season, when a loss to Jacksonville eliminated Indianapolis from postseason contention.
"It's about Tennessee," Irsay said during Wednesday's joint practice with the Detroit Lions. "It's about winning the division. It's about going against those guys who have been very tough and do a great job there getting their players ready to play football in a tough, physical way. So, it's always tough going against those guys, but we know that's what we have to do. That's what we have to overcome if we want to get where we want to get."
Tennessee's sweep of the Colts last season has stuck with Irsay, as has the Titans' recent dominance in the AFC South. The Colts, who once ruled the division, have not won the division crown since 2014.
Last season, after a Week 3 loss to the Titans dropped the Colts to 0-3, Irsay called a meeting of the entire coaching staff and front office and delivered a humbling message: "You guys are getting your ass kicked," Irsay recounted during the NFL annual meetings in March. "Who's going to do something about it?"
Irsay on Wednesday balanced his message by saying he felt strongly the 2022 Colts have a chance to change the conversation about the team. The addition of quarterback Matt Ryan has truly bolstered Irsay's hopes. He referenced former quarterback Carson Wentz's shortcomings Wednesday when he said, "We went through some inconsistency at quarterback and that led to massive problems."
No pressure, Matt.
"We did all those things with Peyton (Manning) and Marvin (Harrison), as well documented," he said. "The 115 wins in a decade, going to two Super Bowls, winning two home AFC Championship Games.