After seeing countless articles lambasting Bill Polian on this site, the last one finally prompted me to write a piece of my own. At the moment I'm incredibly busy with other work, but I think some real perspective is needed when it comes to Bill Polian here, though I am not in any way directing this at any one person in particular. I'm merely forming an analysis of Bill Polian's tenure in the Colts front office. I'm tired of the vitriol, the anger, and the unnecessary criticism. And so, after the jump, let's take a look at Bill's tenure..
Note - I'm including UDFA's in this assessment, because whilst they aren't technically draft picks, they have been scouted by the front office which comes under Polian's control.
1998 - Peyton Manning
I've tried to pull out notable players, whether they have success with Indianapolis or not. I don't intend this to be a root-and-branch review of Polian's drafting, merely a quick glance at players he has drafted in his time in Indianapolis. It's evident that he has had some below average drafts, with 2007 and 2008 - but who hasn't? Look at the Patriots 2006 draft - it's absolutely terrible. Drafting is an inexact science, and for my money, I think that if you get 3 notable players out of a draft year that contribute to your team, you've done a good job. Polian has done that on a regular basis, grabbing gems in the 2nd (Sanders), 3rd (Powers), 4th (Collie), 5th (Mathis), and 6th (Bethea) rounds, with a regular influx of talented UDFA's - not to mention his excellent record in the first round in the first half of the decade.
To me, he's done an excellent job of identifying talent regardless of school, and not only has he drafted well in the talent stakes, he has done so whilst adhering to the tradition of high character players within the organization. That, to me, is staggering. Talented players are hard enough to find, but when you consider how frequently that talent coincides with legal troubles or drama off the field, Polian's achievements are to be lauded and held up as the hallmark of excellent scheme drafting.
He may not have a high amount of press exposure and the charisma that goes with that, and he may possess a slight dislike of the fans that support the team, due to their knee jerk reactions and faux football knowledge. To be honest - I can see his point. Certain sections of the fanbase seem more energized by our losses than our victories. These same individuals jump on the bandwagon of every free agent going, despite the fact that it has been shown beyond all reasonable doubt that the way to build is through the draft, and not free agency. In the past 8 years, the 3 teams representing the AFC in the Superbowl have been the Colts, the Patriots, and the Steelers.
The common theme? Building through the draft for a specific scheme, rather than going out and spending on big free agents. Polian's dislike of individuals reliant on pure statistics is well-documented, and is in my opinion reasonable. If anyone looks back at last year, all they will see is a down-year for Peyton Manning - they won't see the injuries, the tipped interceptions, the badly run routes. I may disagree with his assessment of the running game in recent weeks, but I'm not going to go so far as to call him a "colossal prick". At the end of the day, he is a human being, and is undeserving of the bile which regularly ends up going in his direction. When he came to Indianapolis, we were on the clock. Now we regularly have to wait hours in the first round to know our pick - which would you prefer?
I wasn't born when the Colts moved to Indianapolis, and I've only really started fanatically supporting the Colts in recent years. I'm from the UK, and getting to games is nigh-on impossible for someone in my position, but I'll ruin many a day-after by staying up to all hours of the night watching every play of the Colts' season. I wasn't around to witness the peak years of Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison, or even the dominance of Bob Sanders. I didn't see the 49 TD season in 2004. I wish I had seen them, but I wasn't fortunate enough to - and yet, people who did have the joy of watching those years castigate Polian on a regular basis.
These people need to reexamine just how lucky they were to have the privilege of seeing these players in Indianapolis - breaking records, winning MVP's and POTY awards, and most importantly, winning a championship. All due to the drafting of Bill Polian.
Are the recent criticisms of Bill Polian justified?
Yes (17 votes)
No (66 votes)
Ambivalent (15 votes)
98 total votes