It was around 4pm yesterday that I decided I was going to write a scathing post ripping Colts President Bill Polian a new one. Like many Colts fans, I could see the writing on the wall, the blueprint for disaster. We've all read this script before: Colts play well in the regular season, but come playoff time an opponent with a solid running game exposes the weakness of the Colts' defense. Colts lose. Peyton Manning gets blamed, and another off-season of questions.
You didn't need to have a PhD in "Football Mastery" to see that a tackle rotation of Montae Reagor, Raheem Brock, Darrell Reid, and Dan Klecko was not going to beat Ohio State, let alone an NFL playoff team. Colts fans saw this, and at several games this year they reacted to it. This is why everyone booed the team against they played the Titans.
They weren't booing Peyton Manning.
They weren't booing Tony Dungy.
They were booing Bill Polian, and for good reason.
Colts fans saw that the entire defense was really built around an overweight DT (Simon) who, for whatever reason, could not get back on the football field. When Simon was placed on the injured list (ending his season), Colts fans were upset. They knew that without Simon, this Colts team is no different than the one that played in 2002, 2003, and 2004: great offense, sketchy defense, no hope of a championship. Fans then looked at the depth of tackles on the Colts d-line, and pointed a finger square at Polian. They knew this group was not going to get it done, and they wanted action.
However, if you looked at polls on our site, fans did not expect anything to happen. Bill Polian just doesn't do aggressive trades, and is not a big spender in free agency. Polian is a firm believer in building and re-stocking through the draft, a method that has been quite effective. But a good trade, or a smart free agent signing, can put a team over the top. We saw it a few years ago with the Patriots trading for Corey Dillon. Green Bay signing Reggie White immediately put them over the top. Polian is not one to engage in such signing because, in the past, they have come back to bite him. He put a lot of money in guys like Cournelious Bennett, Chad Bratze, Chad Cota, Jeff Burris, and Tyronne Poole. Only Bratze really panned out. Since then, Polian has been very, very cautious to spend money on free agents.
This is why the Corey Simon signing last year, and the Adam Vinatieri signing this year, came as such shocks. Polian NEVER does stuff like this. And just like those signings, the trade for Anthony McFarland is also a shock, a BIG shock, even though the need for such a player was obvious.
I can tell you right now if Polian had not made this move, fans would continue to boo the Colts no matter their record. The Colts could be 10-0, but if their run defense didn't gain a new player at the DT position, the fans would have revolted. This is why the McFarland deal is such a good one for both the Buccaneers and the Colts.
Speaking of the Bucs: They are done, and Jon Gruden continues to display his inability to coach a football team. Gruden is, without question, THE most over-rated coach in football. He won a Super Bowl with Tony Dungy's team, and the team he beat in the Super Bowl was the team he used to coach. Since then, both those teams have gone south very, very fast. Once again, the Bucs must rebuild their roster. To do this, they need draft picks. So, they trade, arguably, one of the better one-gap DTs in football for a 2nd round pick. Remember, McFarland was a 1st round pick (15th overall), and despite what Bucs fans would like us all to think, McFarland is a good DT.
And Bucs fans claim the Colts were hosed? Please.
The Colts needed a DT that would come in immediately and perform. Ideally, he'd need to be roughly 300 pounds, quick off the ball, and familiar with the one-gap Cover 2 defense the Colts run. In the entire league, there aren't many guys that can do this. Corey Simon was one, but he's out. Tommie Harris is the gold standard, but the Bears aren't that stupid to part with their best defensive player (yes bears fans, Harris makes that defense work, not Urlacher). If you recall, I recently asked the Colts to trade for Warren Sapp. I know he's done, but placing him in a tackle rotation would have helped. The best DT for the job was McFarland, but I and many others felt the Bucs would not part with their best DT.
This is why the trade is so amazing.
Trades like this rarely happen in football. In one move, the Colts upgraded their defense not just for this year, but for years to come. McFarland is 28 years old. His most productive seasons were when Tony D coached him from 1999-2001. He is the ideal over tackle in a Cover 2, a position he was the most effective in with Sapp playing undertackle. When Sapp left, McFarland was switched to undertackle, a mistake in my opinion.
The point here is that of all the DTs in the league not named Tommie Harris, Anthony McFarland was the best one for the Colts to get. He is a perfect fit.
Also, this move not only helps the Colts now, but sets them up for a very impressive d-line in the future. Corey Simon is expected back next year. Despite the doom and glooming from fans, and silly reports that Simon doesn't like football anymore, Simon is indeed expected back. Despite his status, Simon is still attending games, coaching and helping the DTs on the sidelines. If Simon were mad at the Colts or uninterested in football, what's he doing at the games? He's not getting paid. His only incentive is he likes being there. If indeed Simon comes back next year, the Colts will have a DT rotation of Simon, McFarland, Reagor, Reid, and Brock. That's pretty damn good, folks.
So, once again, my hat goes off to Bill Polian. I was fully and completely ready to kill him on this site yesterday. Now, I applaud him. This was an outstanding move, one in a long line of impressive moves made by Polian and his staff. This is why Polian is a top three NFL GM. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong, and their opinion should be immediately dismissed. Bill Polian has taken three crap franchises (Buffalo, Carolina, and Indianapolis) and turned them into title contenders. The one knock (and it's a silly knock) is he hasn't won any championships. All you need to know about Bill Polian's abilities is this: since he took over as President of the Colts (he's been in Indy 8 years), the team has averaged 12 wins a year. Before he arrived, the Colts had NEVER won 12 games in Indy. Heck, they'd never won more than 10 games in one season. Now, they average 12. That is amazing, simply amazing. Despite his lack of rings, Polian's right there with Scott Pioli and Rich McKay as the best GMs in football.
Many thanks, Mr. Polian. In you we trust.