Recap of Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian’s Radio Show

Bill Polian reviews the Colts most recent game and fields questions from callers on his weekly radio show. (Darron Cummings | AP Photo)

With the Indianapolis Colts falling further through the NFL ranks with an embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons at home, more attention will turn to the future and to the front office — who will be responsible for the 2012 blueprint. For reasons colleague Greg Cowan has already discussed, the Polians and Jim Irsay are under a great deal of heat from interested members of Colts media.

No matter the reasons — primary, secondary, or otherwise — it is somewhat disturbing that a group of individuals who have led a team to unprecedented success and received recognition, praise, and numerous awards for those efforts over the course of a decade, should be the focus of so much ire during a time when the best quarterback in the NFL is not taking the field. A group of people who would have stood up and flatly recognized that NFL franchises simply do not maintain a level of success for as long and as consistent as the Indianapolis Colts have since the Polians have arrived are now suddenly surprised and upset that the unprecedented string of success would fall off drastically without a 4-time MVP quarterback on the field.

Do not misunderstand that introduction as apologizing for the Polians. It isn’t.

There is no arguing that drafts in recent years, particularly in the first round, have not been as strong for the Colts as they were from 1998-2006. The scouting staff, the front office, and the owner all have to recognize that these have been disappointing drafts and strive to get greater return out of the coming drafts if they hope to start another string of NFL regular season dominance.

Of course, ignoring legitimate efforts by numerous folks to breakdown the team’s relative success in the draft compared to the other NFL teams doesn’t go far to make the argument against the Colts front office and owner more compelling. But, loud noises and frustration are absolutely going to occur, are completely justified, and should not surprise anyone — even if it’s a disappointing display for a team that is used to winning and having tons of reasons to show up on Sundays.

To the show transcipt –

Reviewing the Falcons Game

Bill Polian was frustrated watching the tape Sunday but not as frustrated on Monday. He mentioned that typically after wins the tape shows that you were not as good as you thought, and after losses you were not as bad as you thought.

Positives: Except for technique mistakes, the defense played “pretty darn good.” Falcons had a well conceived attack. The Colts had a couple of bad breaks but did relatively well against the run game — did give up some big plays because of technique issues.

The defense has been on the field far too often. Must do a better job controlling the football — defensive guys will get punched out if they don’t get off of the field.

Offensively a very bad day. QB Curtis Painter not on and when QB is not on, the offense won’t work.

Run game pretty good. Kick game good, praised McAfee and coverage units.

Had a good plan yesterday. “Curtis plan.” Injuries to TEs took them out of that plan.

Plenty to build on from Sunday.

Caller Question: Colts fans getting Andrew Luck jerseys and wearing them to game seems disrespectful… thoughts?

Polian: Praises fans. Bad break on fumble call in 4th quarter that could have kept things more competitive. Grateful to all who call and write and are positive and supportive. He thanked the fans for being tremendous and doing their job, even though the team gave them little to cheer for.

On Stanford QB – “Mr. Luck has another year of NCAA eligibility, should he choose to use it. The rule is that no club official can speak about an underclassmen. This is to allow players to make the decision to come out of college on the advice of professionals at the appropriate time. Nov/Dec. communications occur discussing when a player might go in the draft that are confidential. Then the player has to make the decision.”

The process is one Polian feels strongly about. Some don’t pay attention to it. Polian won’t go into it because does not want to break the rule — he thinks the rule is great.

Anyone can wear whatever jersey they want. Not right to comments about underclassmen so Polian won’t.

Caller Question: Defense. Mathis/Freeney aging, how does the team address this?

Polian: “Both players are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Chris particularly, myself less so, would fail in our duties if they didn’t begin preparing to replace them. We need to start looking and we’re focused on it. Both players still play at a high level, work hard, and provide leadership and set an example. Proud of effort.”

* This comment further cements Chris Polian as the ultimate architect of the Colts future.

Caller Question: The few times the Colts have been ahead going into the half the other teams make adjustments, we seemingly don’t. Is that considered?

Polian: Point of emphasis to be sure that the first drive of the second half, on both sides of the football, is successful. Caldwell has said he’s not satisfied. Have to spend additional time and put greater emphasis on it.

Falcons game is good example – Atlanta only had 2 blitzes. One in first half, other in second half. Teams should save something to use in the second half, but is difficult when the team is bereft of starting talent. 11 starters by Polian’s count. And the half time changes are certainly a point of emphasis.

Caller Question: In 2009 the team made a decision at 14-0 to rest players. At what point in reverse does the team record become so bad that we choose to rest players this year.

Polian: Short answer is never.

14-0… we had clinched everything there was to clinch. Home field, bye, nothing left of significance to play for other than an undefeated record. In our opinion individual milestones were more important than the record. Nothing of record significance to play for in 2009.

This year we have to play for our own pride, our own record, while it counts — and we have something to play for. No one in “this building” is willing to quit. If you do that, you’re conceding that you’re not a professional. Couldn’t look eachother in the eye if anyone in this building took that position.

“Never, and add an explanation mark.”

There is a difference between telling a player not to give 100% and sitting a player down to avoid injury. Huge difference.

Not going to hang it up. Will keep punching.

With the amount of injuries the team is already dealing with there’s no one to sit down.

Go further player of the game – Jerraud Powers.

Caller Question: Defensive ranking under Tampa 2 over the last 10 years has been bad. Why not change to a new scheme?

Polian: This year stats mean a lot and are an accurate picture of how we played defense.

In years where we were Super Bowl contenders — last 10 years — the stats were different. Our defense, the Tampa 2, is never going to lead the league in defense, getting off the field on third down, never in yards per pass. Yards per rush will typically be in the top half.

Where it will almost always be in the top 5 is in takeaways, sacks, points allowed, and red zone conversion. Those four stats are how we judge ourselves. Up until this year we’ve done pretty well. Coach Mike Murphy says the only thing that counts is points. The other stats, other than these four, mean virtually nothing.

The defense is going to give up 5-7 yard passes over the middle of the field.

Falcons are good and they play the same defense, as does Jax (top 5 defense).

Defense is not at fault. It’s execution. As I mentioned at top of show, our issues have to do with technique. The defense is not designed to outsmart, it is designed to out-technique and out-speed. The caller and I are both frustrated but it’s an execution/technique issue. Caldwell discussed that a lot Monday.

Couple technique improvements with the energy and toughness we’ve shown every week and things should improve.

Lamey – Since 2002 since Dungy arrived, the team that leads the league in turnover ratio is the Colts. Not even close. This year is not good.

Nevis is coming back this week.

Caller Question: Kravitz article. Why not defend the claim instead of referring to rats.

Polian: Not an indirect attack. I don’t read any of the stuff. I have to focus on trying to win. The story was shown to me but there is no point responding to anonymous sources.

Although there is always some irony involved. Dom Anile is sending his grandson to the Colts complex to do a school mandated internship. The team will also honor Tom Moore this Sunday for his service to the team and city. If Moore had an ill feeling toward the organization he wouldn’t show up to accept an award. Will stand on my record and move on.

Caller Question/Comment: Bill you’re doing a great job. Have an eye for picking people. Compliments Polian’s ability to scout. Is one fan who would have picked Leaf. Fans are thick headed. Team is on top for years but what goes up comes down. Should not fall off the bandwagon. Congratulates Polian for his success.

Polian: Quotes Benjamin Franklin, “believe none of what you read and only half of what you see.”

True because we tend to see the world through snapshots. Find out later by studying history, the snapshots are often incorrect. Often you hear naysayers who think they represent everyone.

Given the way we’ve played I wouldn’t blame anyone for being dissatisfied. I am astounded and deeply grateful for the letters and cards showing support. Those folks are, in my opinion, by far the majority. Take a look at the stadium yesterday and see how into they were it is pretty clear the fans have stuck by us 99.9%. The fact we can’t reward them is really frustrating.

For the people who invest in us financially and emotionally, and the players physically and emotionally, I feel badly that we’ve been unable to… you’ve done your job, the fans have done their job, we’ve not done ours.

Caller Question: The details are being missed 9 weeks into the season. Painter mentioned this. Knew it was going to be rough, didn’t realize there would be no signs of progress. In fact, there are signs of regressing. Where do we go from here?

Polian: What Curtis meant, because he’s heard it from coach, is that the only way to get better is to concentrate on smallest possible detail. Don’t confuse the issue with esoteric details. Don’t focus on the noise that’s out there.

We have to refocus the players on that. We have to do less from the schematic standpoint and more from the technique.

How do we regress? Players listen to the noise, put too much pressure on themselves. Must focus on the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.


The most notable things from the show were that Polian took a great deal of responsibility for the team’s failures and does not see the situation as acceptable. Although he realizes there are voices in the media who are critical, he focuses his attention on improving as a team and not on responding to them. There were some tough questions asked, which was surprising to me with the rumors that calls are heavily screened.

Polian kept his cool throughout and thanked the fans for their continued support. He placed some blame on injuries and Painter not playing well for some of the team’s struggles. While there certainly was some company line jargon, it was the type that should be expected from a team representative. Throwing a bunch of players under the bus is certainly not a way to motivate them or keep the locker room.

I thought Polian’s commentary on Andrew Luck and the Tampa 2 were instructive. Of course people will disagree, but I think he was being sincere when he explained part of the reason more news is not heard from the Colts complex regarding the top draft prospect and why the team does not place a great deal of emphasis on a lot of defensive statistics. He provided insight into how he judges the defense and this should give fans an opportunity to have a better idea of when the front office will likely make changes.

I also thought Polian’s response regarding throwing the season or sitting players not being an option was legitimate. There is no way the Colts are limiting their effort. While that’s a good thing, it’s also reason for fans to continue holding the coaching staff and front office accountable for improvements in the immediate future.

I plan to tune-in next week to bring those who cannot listen to the show updates. Thanks to all who followed on Twitter for their support.