When Bill Polian talks, we listen. Sometimes, it's a painful endeavor, especially when the Big Redhead goes on one of his angry tirades, attacking his own players and insulting paying fans along the way. Other times, it's a genuine pleasure to hear him pontificate on subjects like how football has evolved over the years and the intricacies of the modern game.
Today, we kind of got a bit of both.
While Bill held off on taking shots at players or fans, in an interview with 1070 the Fan's John "JMV" Michael Vincent, he did answer a gaggle of questions on subjects such as most improved team in the AFC, the labor situation, Bob Sanders' health, and much more. After the jump, we pluck out the highlights:
When asked about the difficulties in signing rookie defensive end Jerry Hughes, Polian went into a little speech about how the "system" for signing rookies needs to be changed.
Here is a prime example: The agent that represents [Jerry Hughes], Tom Condon, also represented four or five other first round players. He tends to focus his attention nearer the reporting date of the teams that of which he has players and guys who are higher [in the draft]. Most notably, the St. Louis quarter back [Sam Bradford]. So, by the time he gets to our player, it’s later in the process. That’s no one’s fault, except the system. And so, you just recognize that, shrug your shoulders, and hope that we can make a better system down the road.
When asked about the problems with "the system":
We need to change the rookie system because to have, for example, Sam Bradford paid $50 million dollars in guaranteed money for never having taken a snap in the National Football League is just wrong. That money should go to veteran players who have earned it in the National Football League. That’s a very stark example, but it exists. Its there, and it needs to be changed. And I don’t think many other people other than those such as agents who have a vested interest in the present system, would have a problem with that.
Well, I think Domonique Foxworth, a powerful voice within the NFL Player's Association union, seems to like the "pay for potential" system. While veterans may scoff at rookies getting so much money, the union probably likes it. Rookies or vets, doesn't matter. As long as the money rolls in.
The players and the agents recognize that we have a plan and that we are very consistent in sticking to the plan. The vast majority of our players play out their contracts. That’s our philosophy. And it starts with the idea that when we sign a player to a contract, we say what we mean and we when what we say. And we don’t, and have not, done a lot of machinations with the salary cap. We have not done things with the salary cap only in mind. We’ve tried to do it with good, sound business planning. Every once in a while, you will run across a player and an agent that feels that [the player] has played out the value of his contract, that he’s worth more than what he’s being paid. But, bottom line is, we’ve tried to build those contracts with fairness in mind. And even agents of players who would like new deals would be the first to tell you, I like if they were completely honest, hey, the colts pay fairly in the first instance. We’ve never tried to get a discontent, if you will. We’ve always paid to market value. And, conversely, our position then is having paid to market value, even though the market may change down the road, we expect that the player will play out his contract.
When asked about the team's expectations for Bob Sanders coming off another injury-plagued year:
I think its appropriate to say that the so-called rumor, or the whatever you want to call it, the unsubstantiated charge that Bob’s rehabilitation had hit a rough spot and that he wasn’t going to be ready, etc., etc., was proven wrong this morning if you saw him flying around. He was the same old Bob. Let’s hope that he stays that way. The rehabilitation is 100% on schedule. It was on schedule. There was nothing to the charge that he had hit a rough spot or had fallen behind or we were worried about him. I don’t know where that came from; certainly not someone in our organization.
I'm not sure how taking mini-shots at Mike Lombardi, the source of the story, was really "appropriate" there. Vincent never even mentioned Lombardi's name or his story in the question, which was about team expectations for Bob Sanders and Anthony Gonzalez. Bill was too worked up blabbing about proving Lombardi "wrong" to even answer the Gonzo question. But, whatever. I'll harp more on this later. As long as both Bob and Gonzo are healthy, I'm happy.
Finally, Bill talked about the most improved teams in the AFC. Last year, around this time, Bill said the Bengals were a playoff team. Several people "scoffed" at Bill's prediction. The Bengals won the AFC North division in 2009, and hosted a playoff game. This year, Bill's surprise team is... the Jaguars?
I see Jacksonville as both a very improved football team and a team that has changed 90 degrees in terms of their approach to personnel, their approach to playing the game. And they may not be a playoff team yet because this division is so strong, but they are gonna be probably THE most improved team certainly in this division and I would say without question in the AFC. [Tyson Alualu] is a terrific addition. Their draft, top to bottom, we thought was absolutely first rate. They’ve made great additions throughout the year. Last year, they took away the people that were non contributors. They moved them on. And Jack Del Rio and his general manager are right on the same page. And they’re doing a heck of job. Look for them to be a contender.
I'll admit I'm a little surprised by this prediction, but it does seem reasonably sound. However, while I'm sure Alualu is a good player, he was not a top ten pick. Top ten picks need to be difference makers, and unless Alualu is some kind of Warren Sapp 2.0, he was not a good pick at number 10.
That said, Bill is pretty good at judging teams before a ball is ever snapped. You can listen to the entire interview here.