Bill Polian likes his DTs about yay big.
I've been a bit harsh with ole Bill of late, but that harshness is not done because I do not respect the man. I cannot state it any more clearly than this: Bill Polian is the best general manager in football. Period. Currently, no one is is equal. Guys like Scott Pioli are very close, but the taint of Spygate clouds Pioli's legacy (even though he likely did not authorize Patriots employees to blatantly violate NFL rules).
Polian, though, stands alone right now as the best.
Knowing this, and having most of the football world agreeing to it, it is hard to go completely bonkers over how the roster is currently constructed. When the season started I loved the 53 man roster. I still do. Hindsight now suggests that Polian should have draft a DT for this year, but last April we had Ed Johnson (2nd year), Quinn Pitcock (2nd year), and Keyunta Dawson (2nd year) all on the roster. Now, we have just Dawson, who is not big enough to play NT in Tampa 2. He can play three technique (the "Warren Sapp" spot at DT), but not NT. Pitcock quit on football and Big Ed quit on team rules. Both are now unemployed. Them's the breaks, folks.
However, unlike 2006, Bill Polian has not waited until the trade deadline to snag good depth at DT. He signed Daniel Muir prior to the start of the season and Lajuan Ramsey immediately after cutting Ed Johnson. Both new players have the skill and size to play the position. Polian signed them over bringing back Anthony "Booger" McFarland or Colin "Not the Irish actor" Ferrell. Booger's career is over after his knee injury last year, and Ferrell was a decent player in camp, but clearly Polian sees more potential in Muir and Ramsey. They just need time. Both have never played NT in a Tampa 2 scheme before, and Muir is still nursing an injury. This is why the bye happening right now is so very, very important. It gives these two guys time to heal and get comfortable. They need time, and now they have it.
On Bill Polian's radio show (btw, how many GMs or team presidents have a call-in radio show? Tells you what kind of guy Bill is to open himself like this to fans), Bill specifically addressed the play of his DTs, and what they plan to do to sharpen the defense in general. He talked about the Jaguars game, and how afterward he felt as bad as he did after the AFC Championship game in 2003 (officiated by the same crew, btw). You can tell listening to the show that Polian has nothing but utter contempt for that crew. He referred to the game as giving him "Irish Amnesia." Basically, he feels his team won the game and stopped the opponent at the end. Unfortunately, the guys in the zebra shirts saw it differently, but he doesn't seem to care what they think.
Thus, stubborn, "Irish" amnesia.
These little moments endear fans to Polian. He's rough and gruff and can sometime act like an ass. But beneath all that is a passionate, intelligent guy who knows what it takes to win. And make no mistake about it, there is no one else in football right now who can make this roster better. There is Polian, and everyone else is second. Other fans can disagree, but when their personnel guy has the kind of track record ours does in the modern cap era, they can talk.
Since no other personnel guy has Polian's track record, they can shut up, thank you very f*king much.
Photo via media.ebaumsworld.com
So, when you see me get mad at Polian, please know it is not because I think he sucks or should get fired or anything dumb like that. Even the best of the best screw up, and I do not think Polian has done a bad job, overall, with this roster. I get frustrated because I have such a high expectation for Polian. I have a high expectation, period. A big reason for that is because of Polian's (and Tony Dungy's) work. I have to give them credit: They stick to their guns and get tough when things go wrong. Key for them is they don't do it to a fault. Their tone and approach of this team is exactly what is needed right now.
Focus on specific details.
Freaking out and acting like a bunch of headless chickens screaming SIGN A DT! from our bloody neck stumps will only lead to disaster. And let's be honest, all teams in the NFL right now have major issues, even the supposed "good" ones. Pittsburgh's o-line is going to get their QB killed. Jacksonville's defense is a shell of its former self. Tennessee has a big QB problem. Cleveland is done. New Orleans has no defense. Denver's defense is worse, and their special teams is suspect. Dallas still has an idiot coach, and their defense is not that good. San Diego, like us, is 1-2.
The only team I've watched that has no real weakness, and will likely win their division, is the Buffalo Bills. Trent Edwards is solid, defense plays tough, and their special teams are the best in football. Good team in Toronto... er, Buffalo. The Champs have also looked impressive.
So, right now, the NFL is a mess. That makes it entertaining, at the very least.
For now, the Colts are doing what they need to do. Getting guys like Ryan Lilja, Tyjuan Hagler, and Bob Sanders back will make a huge difference. Peyton is still not 100%, but he is getting better each week. The special teams have arrived. Finally. I mean jeeeeeeeezus folks, if that unit could get good, ANY unit can improve. Even our run defense. This roster is still the best one in the AFC. It needs to get its feet under them. It needs time to settle down. It now has that. This is why I'm not freaking out, and as mad as I something get with the great, red-headed Irish Amnesiac, I trust him.
Because Bill Polian is the best there is.