The speculation that Bill Polian is soon to be gone from the Indianapolis Colts in any official capacity is gathering steam. He has slowly turned more power over to the GM. (We’ll get to him in a minute.) I’m writing this to bring light to that GM’s apprenticeship, and the likely future of the Colts franchise.
Look at what we know. A too young GM that hasn’t “proven” himself to NFL observers. He’s a bit combative, and definitely opinionated. He believes that the talent of his team is poor, and he intends to get it fixed. His current coach is doing a poor job at best with the talent he does have. He’s going to go out and get a proven NFL coach. One that has been successful even without the best of talent. Together they will rebuild and redesign this team into a winner. This was the start of BILL Polian’s career in Buffalo.
Bill Polian was considered unqualified by most when he was hired by Ralph Wilson. However, he understood how to evaluate talent. He also understood that he didn’t know everything. Cue Marv Levy. Not many people in Indiana know, or remember, but Levy was a two time Grey Cup winning coach in Canada. He also was a solid head coach for KC among other NFL teams. The strike year essentially being his downfall in KC. When a young Bill Polian was looking for his first coach to make a mark, he went with a guy that had both success and experience as a head coach. For what it's worth, Levy had had a small break from coaching. Sound familiar?
You can’t blame Chris Polian for his father’s sins. We still have no idea if he is a genius, or idiot. We do know that he has grown up in and around professional football like very few people have the chance to do. Malcolm Gladwell (in Outliers) asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice at anything to become an expert. Regardless of whether you believe that exactly, it’s hard to argue that Chris certainly has a head start to getting experience over most other GM’s. He’s had years to watch a HOF GM build Superbowl teams in 2 different cities from the inside and don't forget the best start to an expansion franchise in NFL history.
How does all of this history relate to the future of the Colts? Simple. Chris is going to attempt to follow his father’s blueprint. You can almost simply cut and paste paragraph 2 here. Chris Polian had to see that his father made his mark initially with an experienced coach. One that would have an idea about players and provide input. Many see Bill Polian as a dictator here in Indiana. I don’t know if that is true or not. What I do know is that he began his career with a strong partner in Buffalo with Levy.
If Bill Polian leaves and Chris is the only Polian calling shots for the Colts. Look for him to hire an experienced, successful head coach. It makes no sense for him to choose a weak coach when he’s never flown solo. He’ll look for a solid co-pilot. As suggested earlier today, I believe it will be Jeff Fisher.
Fisher makes an incredible amount of sense. He knows the Colts personnel as well as any outsider could already know them. He also is already familiar with all of their most common opponents. Fisher was able to last 15 years in his last position. That is someone that is flexible and is willing to partner with different, and often DIFFICULT people. (Bud Adams anyone?) He has proven that he can be successful with difficult roster positions. (Does anyone else remember the salary cap hell the Titans endured?) Probably the most important part of his resume is his defensive expertise. I never remember being scared of the Titans outscoring the Colts. But his defenses have always played well in spite of often times being staffed with less talented players. That sounds like a perfect guy to pair with Manning. Add in the respect both Manning and Fisher have for each other, and throw in the #1 pick to secure probably the best QB prospect since #18 for good measure. If Fisher ever wants to coach again, he’ll probably not find a better situation.
Fisher doesn't need to go to the highest bidder. He's already made plenty of money already. Chris Polian doesn't need total control. He needs validation. Together, they would have a great opportunity to claim what both of them need to further their careers. A Super Bowl trophy, with their names attached to it.