The idea of the Colts parting ways with Bill Polian and his kids as the lords and masters of the Colts front office would never have been taken seriously prior to this season. But, after an 0-8 start, numerous draft busts, and a roster that has been exposed for its near-desperate lack of talent, for the first time in a long while, Colts owner Jim Irsay actually had to publicly assert his commitment to keeping his front office leaders on the payroll after this season.
Here was Irsay yesterday when asked if he still felt committed to the leaders of his front office:
"I'm committed. In their defense, it's pretty radical after the successes we've had to start even talking about the question, in my opinion. If this is five or six years of losing . . . (but) you're talking about eight weeks. With Bill and Chris, that transition is a strong transition plan. I think it's really not a fair question to be asked.
"Chris is certainly the one who's much more involved now. Bill as vice chairman doesn't have as much of a presence but still has a presence. I think it's a good succession plan."
Irsay was somewhat less committal to his head coach, which suggests that the owner is going to dump this 0-8 start on Jim Caldwell, not on the people who have been missing on draft picks left and right the last four years or so.
Interestingly, Irsay himself admitted, an an odd, roundabout sort of way yesterday, that the front office has been less-than-stellar in the draft in recent years, acknowledging that there have been some 'misses.' When asked about Jim Caldwell's status as head coach going forward, Irsay rambled into mentioning the drafts in recent years. Special thanks to Phil Wilson for sending me the Irsay quotes:
We had a great draft this year. There have been some things in the past with misses and those sort of things recently. We know we’re going into another critical draft. This draft was an outstanding draft. We’ve been without our three top draft picks, which hurts.
Again, nothing new to anyone who knows this team, but it was refreshing to see the owner of the team acknowledge the obvious. Listening to Bill Polian ramble like a moron on his radio show about how 'the jury isn't out' on certain players has many people, myself included, ready to jump out a window.
Site note: I look forward to 18to88.com making another chart with subjective stats to counter Mr. Irsay's opinions on his team's own draft picks.
Listen, it's not realistic to expect Jim Irsay to just up and fire Bill Polian and his family at this stage. Even though we at Stampede Blue think he should, we're not so dumb as to assume he will. However, the more the Colts lose and the worse things get, the more Irsay is going to feel the pressure to cut loose of these guys.
Simply blaming it all on Caldwell is just too transparent. Caldwell is no coaching genius, but it's obvious to everyone that isn't a blind homer that this team is lacking talent. The coach here doesn't control the talent coming in and going out. He can't even control who starts and who doesn't.
As we have noted, since Chris Polian started assuming more responsibility within the organization, the Colts have slipped big time in the talent evaluation department. Gone are Tony Dungy and Dom Anile, two people who were far more accomplished at finding talent in the draft and free agency than Chris, who would not have the kind of job he has now on any other franchise not run by his father.
So, Irsay can publicly commit to this rather shaky transition plan all he wants, but he's doing so at his own peril, so to speak. If the loses keep coming, the calls for accountability (a.k.a, people demanding the Polians get friggin sent packing) will grow louder and harder to ignore. The credibility of the Polians has already come into question (a collapse of this kind is rather unprecedented), and it's not like people inside the league and in media circles are willing to go to bat for these guys.
The Polians are pretty universally loathed by everyone, league and media people alike.
The mere fact that Irsay even has to address their status in public means something. And if he further commits to them while the loses still keep coming, then Irsay's already shaky credibility with fans and media will get tossed into the dumpster as well.
Look, the bottom line is this, simply blaming the head coach for this titanic collapse just isn't going to cut it. While some fans might be content to toss all fault on Caldwell, the reality is everyone who really knows what is going on knows that the buck stops with the front office. From Paul Kuharsky to Phil Wilson to blogs like ours, we're all seeing a front office that simply isn't very good at its job anymore. If Jim Irsay want to keep fans interested in this team, he can't blindly turn the reigns of the franchise over to Bill Polian's son just because it's good for 'continuity.'
Irsay can preach patience all he wants, but many Indiana fans aren't interested in hearing that.
Maybe if the front office didn't treat its fans like idiots, maybe then patience would be a gift worth handing Mr. Irsay. But, with these guys running the show? Nope. There really is no point in keeping them unless the team is winning, and since the transition to Chris Polian has resulted in less winning, Jim Irsay absolutely must re-evaluate whether or not it's good for the franchise to have him run the show.
If Irsay can't do that, then Irsay is an utter fool, and we are entering a dark period in our franchise's history.