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Some love for the red head

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Vic Carucci has a good article up about Bill Polian over at NFL.com. You've read my praises of Bill and how I think he's arguably the best GM in football. Polian, Scott Pioli in New England, and Rich McKay in Atlanta are the best in the NFL at managing a team in the modern salary cap era. Like all GMs, Polian has had his fair share of mistakes. He signed Chad Cota and Jeff Burris to insane free agent contracts. Both players stunk, and were huge cap burdens. He should have found a way to keep David Thornton this past off-season. He should have handled the Jim Mora situation better in 2001, but in hindsight it might have been a blessing in disguise.

Those are Polian's "mistakes." Notice how they are few and far between.

For fans, the universal mistake of Bill Polian's tenure was his drafting of Rob Morris in the first round in 2000. Everyone thought Morris sucked. He was a bust. Polian selected Morris over players like Ian Gold, Keith Bullock, and Mike Brown. Today, Morris is the starting SAM backer for the Colts and a major reason the defense has played at such a high level. Even Polian's "mistakes" turn to gold.

This season especially, Polian has earned his keep and then some. To prove my point, look at this list of players Polian has added to this team since the loss to Pittsburgh in the playoffs last year:

  • He made the free agent signing of the 2006 off-season, sweeping Adam Vinatieri away from New England, who were trying to lowball Vinatieri.
  • Drafted Antoine Bethea in the sixth round of the 2006 draft. Bethea beat out Mike Doss for the starting safety position, and has made huge plays during the regular season and the playoffs.
  • Made a mid-season trade to acquire DT Booger McFarland from Tampa Bay after an undisclosed illness ended the season of DT Corey Simon. Polian hosed the Bucs with the trade. McFarland was their best d-lineman, period. Polian got him for a 2nd round pick.
  • Replaced Edgerrin James, who left the Colts as a free agent, by drafting Joseph Addai. Addai turned out to be the best running back drafted in the 2006 draft. He ran for more yards and TDs than any other rookie despite splitting carries with veteran Dominic Rhodes. The combination of Rhodes and Addai equaled the production of James, and both have excelled in the palyoffs.

Polian did all this, and yet the Colts still are in great position with the salary cap, and they sport the second youngest team in football. In short, the Colts aren't going anywhere. Polian is a masterful GM, and in my opinion he is the 2006 NFL Executive of the Year.