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Bill Polian: Drafting Andy Dalton would have saved my job

Bill-Polian-ColtsThe Indianapolis Colts chose not to draft a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2011 NFL draft, knowing that Peyton Manning had undergone a series of neck surgeries and was out indefinitely. The Colts didn’t have a viable backup quarterback, and the end result was a league-worst 2-14 season.

After the Colts succeeded* with their “Suck for Andrew Luck” campaign, it was clear Manning’s time in Indianapolis had come to an end. Had the Colts drafted someone like Andy Dalton — who led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs as a rookie — a year prior, former team president Bill Polian believes he would have kept his job. This from NFL Media’s Judy Battista:

The collapse cost executives and coaches their jobs and created a cautionary tale for those who work in a league that is ever more reliant on the quarterback — and ever more at a loss when it comes to managing without one.

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said teams think back to that situation all the time. Former Colts president Bill Polian, currently serving as an analyst on ESPN despite being widely regarded as one of the best team-builders in the game, ruefully told Lewis that he wouldn’t be working in television now if he had only drafted Andy Dalton in the spring of 2011 to be Manning’s backup.

The thinking is that Dalton would have provided a one year stop-gap and helped the Colts avoid a disaster of a season. They would have held onto Manning after that and still been Super Bowl contenders, as we all saw the recovery Peyton made with the Denver Broncos.

However, we know it is not always that simple. No two situations are alike. Jim Caldwell had grown used to having an offense that was catered to Manning, and there’s no guarantee the team would have known how to use Dalton the way the Bengals did. Polian may be working as an ESPN analyst due to a lack of quarterback depth, but the Colts are probably better off for it in the long run.

H/T Around the League

Bill Polian ticked at Jim Irsay for disparaging Colts defense

Bill PolianFormer Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian seems furious with team owner Jim Irsay for disparaging the Colts’ defense and special teams as a way to backtrack from his “cheap shot” at Peyton Manning.

In an interview with USA Today, Irsay seemed to express disappointment over the Colts only winning one Super Bowl with Manning at quarterback. He also said he wanted Super Bowls more than big stats, which sounded like a “cheap shot” at Manning, as John Fox said.

After his comments made huge news Tuesday, Irsay went on his Twitter to “clarify” things. That’s when he stuck his foot further in his mouth, blaming the team’s defense and special teams for the lack of success.

It’s obviously difficult to understand Irsay’s tweets. I mean you seriously need a special decoder to figure out what that doofus is trying to say, but it’s obvious he switched the blame from Peyton to the defense and special teams. Well that didn’t sit well with Polian, who was the man chiefly responsible for constructing those teams.

“Well I never had an exit interview, so I can’t tell you [what Irsay meant with his comments],” Polian said with a bitter tone. “But let me deal with some facts, OK? I’ll give you some names: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Kelvin Hayden, Gary Brackett, David Thornton, Adam Vinatieri, Pat Angerer, Bob Sanders, Antonine Bethea. And, by the way, there was a salary cap.

“When he talks about this model that he wants to build, which I’ve said a hundred times is perfectly OK — he’s the owner, he can do what he wants — when he has to pay Andrew Luck as one of the top-paid quarterbacks, if not the top-paid quarterback in the league two years from now, he’ll be back in the same boat we were in for all the years that we had Peyton.

“We did our best. If it wasn’t good enough, that’s fine. I don’t have any problem with it. But I will tell you this: I and I’m sure I speak for most of my teammates and colleagues, are very proud of what we did. Our record is there for all to see. It’s up to this new group of Colts and this new model to meet or exceed what we did.”

That was a great response from Polian. Irsay should have just stood by his original comments, said his quotes were taken out of context, or just clarified and said he had tremendous respect for Manning. I’m not sure why he decided to turn around and blame the defense and special teams for a lack of Super Bowls. It just seems so silly on his part.

Bill Polian believes the Colts could have gotten Kyle Orton with a later trade deadline last season

With the NFL having decided to move the trade deadline back two weeks to Week 8 next season, Colts fans are left wondering if that would have been a good thing or a bad thing for their team last season. When asked about the rule change recently, former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian seemed fairly certain that the Colts would have had a different look last season if the deadline was Week 8. More specifically, he feels they would have had a chance to land a legitimate starting quarterback.

“I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us,” Polian told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn’t great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who’d gone to (Tim) Tebow by then, and said, ‘Hey, we’ll give you a three (a third-round draft choice) for Orton.’”

That may be, but that would have also likely led to the Colts not landing the No. 1 overall pick and thus not drafting Andrew Luck. As we know, that would have made Indy fans like these ones quite upset.

Trading for Orton last season would probably have led to a few more wins, but it certainly wasn’t going to make the Colts a playoff contender. Not only that, but Orton isn’t exactly a quarterback you would want to build the future of your team around. Indy’s abysmal season may have ultimately cost Polian his job, but at the moment Colts fans should be pleased with the way everything turned out.

H/T Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE

Bill Polian: Ben Roethlisberger Is on Same Level as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning

For pretty much the last decade, the quarterback debate amongst fans in the NFL has been Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. We already know Rex Ryan’s answer to the question, but after his Jets knocked both players out of the playoffs, one can’t help but wonder if other quarterbacks have caught up. Drew Brees’ Saints won the Super Bowl last year, Aaron Rodgers is playing in his first big one this year, and Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to tie Brady if he can win his third ring next weekend. So have some of these quarterbacks closed the gap and joined the elite ranks?

Bill Polian certainly thinks that is the case.

The Colts president told Sam Farmer of the LA Times “Bottom line, if you ask football people, they’re going to put Ben Roethlisberger up there with [Manning and Brady] almost unanimously. No one would leave him out. And others who have made the Pro Bowl, for example, wouldn’t even get consideration if you took a poll of all 32 general managers.”

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Bill Polian: Colts Should Have Drafted Rodger Saffold Over Jerry Hughes

It’s not often that a team acknowledges a mistake, and it’s even more rare for an individual to do so publicly. Shockingly, both happened on Monday night. Stampede Blue, via Pro Football Talk, was listening to Bill Polian’s radio show and heard a surprising statement.

Asked a question by a caller, Polian, who is the Colts’ president, said the team made a mistake drafting Jerry Hughes over Rodger Saffold. Saffold was selected early in the second round by the St. Louis Rams and has been playing left tackle. Polian says the team erroneously evaluated Saffold as strictly a right tackle while the rookie has proved he can be an effective left tackle.

In contrast, Jerry Hughes was taken 31st overall by the Colts and has just three tackles on the season. The rookie defensive end from TCU has been inactive a good portion of the season, something that normally doesn’t happen with healthy first-round picks. Not only did the Colts overrate Hughes, but they also underrated Saffold.

While the miss hurts the team, Polian shouldn’t beat himself up — he’s hit several home runs including Austin Collie in the 4th round last year and Pierre Garcon in the 6th the year before. Oh yeah, he also took that quarterback from Tennessee instead of the big-armed prospect from Washington State. Everyone has their misses and this one obviously has cost the Colts, but Polian’s record speaks for itself.