The BP Watch: Bill Polian Fired Edition

Kyle Rodriguez reminds us to keep some things in mind about the Polian firings in Colts Authority’s first installment of the BP Watch.

This being my second piece for the new Colts Authority blog, I’d just like to take a minute and say… Wow! The site looks great, I’m very excited to see something that I’ve dreamed and hoped for for about a year actually come into fruition. The activity in comments and Reader Blogs (check them out, they’re great) has been phenomenal, and it’s going to be an interesting offseason to cover to say the least. So, thanks for reading, and Go Colts!

That being said, let me introduce the BP Watch. This will be a feature that will run when necessary where I breakdown an idea or article that I take to be completely incorrect or ignorant, discussing the argument made, and why I disagree with it. The series name, if you’re interested, was inspired by a creative Jim Irsay tweet in response to a ridiculous article by Indy Star columnist Bob Kravitz. For more details on that, and to see an example, check out the first one, which ran on Coltsider.

For today, this won’t be a point by point piece as it usually is, instead, I just want to lay out my opinion on a few key issues regarding the firings of Bill and Chris Polian. After that, I’m moving on, you will no longer be subject to that discussion (other than the Draft reviews, which will continue). 

So, to start, I’d like to say: Kravitz was right. 

Bob Kravitz was exactly right when he said earlier this year that Chris Polian was a ‘toxic force’ and that people hated working for him. According to all signs, the attitudes of Bill and Chris were the things that eventually got them canned, and it seems that Chris may have been the driving force behind it. Coupling that with pieces like this from Phil Wilson, and reading between the lines of comments about the firings (as Greg Cowan thankfully directed us through) it seems that the incredibly indecent way that Chris and Bill treated their employees was the ultimate reason why they are no longer in Indianapolis. 

So, kudos to Kravitz, because he was absolutely right. Now, don’t get me wrong, I never have, and never will take anything too seriously that comes from unnamed sources. If you can’t put your name behind it, I can’t trust it. Which is why I didn’t take the reports seriously from Kravitz in the first place. But, again give him credit for reporting something that now seems to be 100% right. 

But, what I was expressedly angry with Kravitz for in the first place, and what I will not give him, or others, a pass for on the incident, is making evidence up to support the “Chris Polian is toxic” claim, seemingly because he didn’t have the sources to back it up. By that I mean evidence in drafting, or the Colts record in 2011, or any number of things people have tried to pin on the Polians over the last year. 

Why? 

Because there is no performance related evidence that Bill and Chris should have lost their jobs. Bill and Chris were fantastic at their jobs, albeit not the relationships/treating people like human beings part.

Poor drafting? We’ve seen studies from our own Nate Dunlevy, from readers, from outside sources that all say the same thing: Colts’ drafts are vastly underrated. I’ll get into this more as I get back into the Judging the Draft Series (especially as the recent drafts approach), but the “poor drafting” meme comes mostly from the fans’ misguided expectations towards the draft, not a drop in performance. 

2011 record? If one terrible year in 13, with the multitude of injuries and a missing Peyton Manning, warrants a firing, than I’m appalled at Jim Irsay. But, I don’t believe this was his thinking, nor should anyone else. The circumstances that led to 2011 were complex, and have been discussed before, but I would say that the majority of the blame goes to the NFL itself. The unknown pattern of injuries and the NFL’s cyclical nature caused this rift, not ineptitude by the front office. 

I know the Polians made mistakes, as all do, but they made a heck of a lot less than most front offices.

Apparently the Polians are jerks. Such jerks, that they made a whole lot of people miserable while they worked for the Colts. And you know what? They deserve to be criticized for that! They deserved to be fired for that! I couldn’t care less how they treat the media, if they can do their job well. I don’t want to know what their personalities are like if they’re winning. But if they can’t treat people right who are are on their side, on their team, then they deserve to be gone. When that causes problems, when that causes distractions and divisiveness, it’s time to go. If the Polians were better human beings, they’d most likely still have a job. And, I would argue, the Colts would be a lot better off for it. 

But, people are who they are. You can’t change that, you can’t change the past. So why do I care? Why did I even take the time to write this piece on people who likely will never be involved with the Colts? 

Because we can change the future. If people go out thinking that the Polians were fired because of performance, than that sets a very high bar for the next front office, a higher bar than could ever be reached. Realize that the Polians built a team, nay (and yes, I’ll say it), a dynasty, that lasted longer than any team like this in league history. Only the Cowboys of the 70’s/80’s could claim 9 straight seasons of playoffs, and only the Packers(’93-’04), 49ers (’81-’98), Steelers (’72-’84), and Cowboys (’66-’83) can claim to have a consistently good stretch over at least 12 years. 

If that kind of job performance can still be not good enough, then what’s next? What kind of expectations are we bringing to the next GM? Not ones that he can fulfill, that’s for sure. 

So, know that job performance was not the reason why the Polians are no longer employed by the Colts. Know that if the new GM is a fraction as good of a GM as the Polians were, that’s doing pretty darn good. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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