Teams will spend the offseason trying to prepare their roster to do what Peyton Manning and the Broncos just accomplished.
Here's a look at the blueprint for the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason:
Improve the pass rush: The Broncos didn’t have to rely on Manning’s arm, which is a good thing because he’s not the same Peyton Manning of years ago. Their defense carried them not only during the regular season, but also during the playoffs. Just ask Tom Brady or Cam Newton if you need proof. Denver sacked Newton four times -- hitting him 13 more times -- and forced four Carolina turnovers in the Super Bowl. Denver, which finished with the league’s No. 1-ranked defense, had 52 sacks during the regular season. There’s no doubt that the Colts are Andrew Luck's team, but it would be nice if they helped their franchise quarterback by upgrading their pass-rushers on the other side of the ball. The Colts were tied for 22nd in sacks last season with only 35. That won’t get it done.
Bolster the offensive line: Yes, this could be a recording from the last offseason and the offseason before that. The Colts need to improve their weak offensive line. Luck, after not missing a snap due to injury in his first three seasons, broke down this season. It ended when he suffered a lacerated kidney while scrambling against Denver, but his body took a pounding in the games prior to that due to poor offensive line play. He dealt with a rib injury and he missed two games early in the season because of a right shoulder injury. Colts quarterbacks were hit 118 times last season, the second most in the NFL. A legitimate argument could be made that the Colts need a new starting center, right guard and right tackle.
Teach Luck to slide: Not all the blame for the number of hits Luck has taken can be put on the offensive line. His competitive nature trying leads him to fight for an extra yard or two instead of sliding. Will Luck ever decide to start sliding? Who knows, but it’s up to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer to work with him in that area. “Love the grit and love the toughness and all that stuff,” coach Chuck Pagano said during the regular season. “Playing the position like a linebacker, that’s his mentality. Some great plays are made and some first downs are made. We’ll continue to stress that availability is huge, especially at that position.”
Get younger at running back: I’m not saying the Colts need to replace starter Frank Gore. But they do need to find a backup for Gore who can spell him at times in games and potentially be his replacement as the starter in the future. Gore, who rushed for 967 yards last season, had 227 more carries than the next player behind him on the roster. That’s asking too much out of a player who will be 33 next season. Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent and injury prone. Josh Robinson, the team’s sixth-round pick last season, struggled during his rookie year before being demoted to the practice squad.