The reign of Bill Polian

Bill Polian was fired this week, and naturally that’s big news in Indy and around the NFL. The guy is a legend.

But it sounds like he was a real jerk as well. Check out this interesting take from a sportswriter in Indianapolis.

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Colts still suffering from issues at defensive tackle

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 26: Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts watches as his team takes on the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Colts 59-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

This past offseason there wasn’t a salary cap, but outside of the Bears that didn’t mean that teams broke out their checkbooks to sign free agents to lucrative deals. For the most part, things were business as usual in the NFL when it came to free agency.

That’s why it’s not a surprise that teams like the Colts are still affected by decisions they made in previous years. Is Indy in decline? No, they still have the same issues this season as they did last year when they represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. But since they’re 2-2 now, those issues have become magnified.

Those that were paying attention this summer knew that once again Indianapolis would have trouble stopping the run. GM Bill Polian has been ignoring the defensive tackle position for years and even when he tried to upgrade the position, he whiffed (’09 second round pick Fili Moala has yet to make an impact).

The Colts are 2-2 not because they’re in decline, not because Jim Caldwell picked the wrong time to be aggressive with his timeouts last Sunday (seriously Jim, just play for overtime – you had all the momentum), but because they failed to address their biggest weakness in the offseason.

The two teams that the Colts lost to were able to run the ball. In Week 1, somebody forgot to tell Arian Foster that he wasn’t Earl Campbell and he went off for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Last Sunday in Jacksonville, you knew if the Jags could keep the ball on the ground with Maurice Jones-Drew that they were going to have a shot in the end. Jones-Drew didn’t go Earl Campbell Foster on the Colts, but Jacksonville did rush for 174 yards and David Garrard actually resembled a starting NFL quarterback for the first time this season.

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Colts president could do without this year’s Pro Bowl

Bill Polian

Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian dislikes the 2010 Pro Bowl as much as every NFL fan.


“It’s stupid,” he said on the Dan Dakich Show on 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. “It’s a disruption, but we’ll deal with it.”

Polian: “Well, we’ll come back to practice on Wednesday. We’ll practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They’ll have off Saturday. If it weren’t for the Pro Bowl disruption, they would have the weekend off, but they can’t because we have to send those players to Miami to do Lord knows what. We’ll come back and practice on Sunday and the Pro Bowl players will go and do whatever they have to do and then the team will leave on Monday.”

(So the Pro Bowl players you will fly down there and they just fly back that day?)

“I don’t know that they fly them back. I think they plan to keep them down there that evening. They haven’t even told us yet what this is all about. We don’t even have any details or anything like that. Maybe they will call us Friday and tell us. In any event, the fact of the matter is that we’re thinking that they’re down there Sunday night and they will meet us Monday, which is a hell of a thing isn’t it? It sends a great message to all the young people out there and all the coaches that talk teamwork that you take your best seven players and split them up from your team at the ultimate moment in sports.”

You can’t argue with Polian. A black cloud has been cast over a seemingly enjoyable event because of its bad scheduling. With the Super Bowl coming up, neither the Colts or the New Orleans Saints should be worrying this much about the coordination of their players’ flights.

NFL Divisional Playoff Preview: Saturday

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
4:30 pm ET

If last week’s wild card game between Arizona and Green Bay is any indication, the Cardinals are having a difficult time stopping the opposition. And when the opposition is the New Orleans Saints, who boast the top offense in the NFL, you have to believe this game today could get ugly. Pair that with the fact that the Cardinals racked up 51 points last Sunday against the NFL’s second ranked defense, and that New Orleans is 25th overall in team defense (26th against the pass), and there is more fuel to the shootout theory here. Of course, the game plan for each team should be to try and run the ball to control the clock, and if that’s the case, the Saints have a decided edge with their sixth ranked rushing attack. Remember, though, the key word in “game plan” is “plan,” because it’s not likely the Packers or Cards expected to play an arena league game last week. In other words, you can bet Kurt Warner and Drew Brees will wind up airing it out in this one, with those speedy receivers on both sides reducing the game to a track meet. And really, that’s how this game should be. As for the outcome, we’ll give the rested home team a slight edge. THE PICK: SAINTS 52, CARDINALS 49

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
8:15 pm ET

Speaking of rested players, there is going to be a mutiny in Indianapolis tonight if the Colts lose this game. Head coach Jim Caldwell and owner Bill Polian have been adamant about their belief that resting Peyton Manning and other regulars during most of the final two games, instead of pursuing a perfect 16-0 record, was the prudent thing to do. And while playing those guys would have been a huge risk (see Welker, Wes), you have to believe it was even riskier to not play them. Meanwhile, the Ravens, who come in with a solid ground game that is ranked fifth in the league, are just the kind of team that can give the Colts and their 24th ranked run defense fits anyway. John Harbaugh wants to run Ray Rice all day long and keep it away from Mr. Manning as much as possible, and he’d love to run the ball 52 times like he did against New England. When the Colts do have the ball, they are ranked dead last in rushing offense but second in passing. So guess what they’re gonna do? But the Ravens were in Tom Brady’s face all game last week, and you can expect Ray Lewis and company to try and do the same to Manning, who also has to worry about ball-hawking safety Ed Reed, voted Safety of the Decade earlier this week by USA Today. The Colts are extremely talented and didn’t win 14 games by accident, but that resting players thing is going to bite Caldwell and Polian in the butt. THE PICK: RAVENS 23, COLTS 20

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