Colts’ GM Bill Polian Talks More Offensive Line Philosophy

Last week, Bill Polian gave several Colts fans hope that he would consider dipping into free agency to bolster the offensive line in an attempt to improve the running game.  This week, while not directly retracting that statement, he reminds the fan base of who the Colts really are… a pass-first team.

We are a team basically built to pass protect. We’re a team that’s going to be three wide receivers most of the time, one back virtually all of the time….

We’re not going to be the Dallas Cowboys, for example, where you have five 350-pound guys up there who are going to double-team and pull and blast away with the power running game.

This suggests that, while Polian may focus on the O-Line during the draft or even in free agency, he will still favor pass-blockers.  He also discussed the expectation of players’ versatility along the line:

We believe our offensive linemen basically all should be able to play two positions. Tackle counts as right tackle and left tackle…. Guards should be able to play center and vice-versa.

Finally, Polian said that what fans see and hear on TV with respect to protection of the quarterback can be misleading.  In response to a direct question about why Patriots’ QB Tom Brady seems to get more time than Peyton Manning does, Polian replied:

On Sunday, Brady had a lot of time because – as someone on a studio show astutely pointed out; I believe it was (former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher) – you can’t get any footing on a field like that for the defensive linemen…. Actually, we did a pretty good job of pressuring (Brady) in Foxboro (last month).  Dwight got a big sack, which changed the game in the second half.

The disparity between what you think you see and what you hear and what actually is happening are two different things. That said, I think we did a pretty credible job protecting Peyton the other night against a really active and aggressive and ferocious front four.

Reaction: My honest reaction is to be a little disappointed.  Someone in the media (apologies as I cannot remember who) suggested that as Manning enters the twilight years of his career, the Colts would be wise to bulk up along the offensive line so as to reduce the number of passing plays (saving Manning’s arm) and give him more time to pass (further reducing any hits or sacks that could result in injury).  Polian’s comment last week implied (to me, at least) that he may be thinking along this direction, but this week was a bit of a return to the same.  Whatever the philosophy is going forward, I am hopeful that it will result in yet another championship (or more) for Manning.

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