Since Week Sixteen of last season, I've gotten more than a few emails from people complaining about my 'Polian bashing.' It's almost a weekly occurrence. However, despite what people complain about in these emails, there is no Bill Polian 'bashing' that goes on at this blog. We might question certain decisions Bill makes, or we might question the logic behind certain things that have his fingerprints on them, but in general there is no Polian bashing.
It's more 'Polian accountability.'
I personally do not subscribe to any doctrine that preaches blind adoration to someone just because they are successful. Bill Polian is not 'flawless.' Week Sixteen taught me that, as did this silly umpire rule fiasco he had a hand in. Both were bad decisions, and he should be held accountable for them. The first way one holds someone accountable is by calling out the error, not ignoring it of 'giving him a pass.'
I'll paraphrase Peyton Manning here, because it's appropriate. The morning after winning Super Bowl 41, Peyton walked in front of the cameras and lights to give his final press conference to the Super Bowl media. He was tired, having partied all night with teammates and friends. During the press conference, Peyton referenced how other quarterbacks 'get a pass' by the media on mistakes and errors they make in their careers after winning a Super Bowl. Peyton made it clear to them he wanted to be held to a higher standard.
"I don't want that pass."
Now, take that and apply it to Bill Polian. If Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest quarterback to ever to play football, wants to be held to a higher standard and not have a free ride for the rest of his career, then we shall hold Bill Polian to the same standard. If Peyton doesn't get a pass, no one does.
This means that when Bill Polian busts another third round pick, or makes a bad trade for a mediocre left tackle (Tony Ugoh), or berates fans on his radio show, we are going to call him out on it. And since we are a pretty widely read and distributed blog, that criticism will get some time on many news and media outlets, eventually making its way back to the big redhead himself. I stress that there is absolutely nothing 'wrong' or 'unjust' about holding the Colts president accountable for his decisions, and I question the general sanity of people who think such things are in line with 'bashing' him.
Now, all that said (and if you are playing the BBS drinking game, you just took a swig of Jack), just because Stampede Blue is critical of certain decisions Bill has made does not mean we think he should be fired, or demoted, or locked in the stocks so that Bob Kravitz can throw rotten eggs at him. Go do a search for Bill Polian on this site, and going back FOUR FRIGGIN YEARS you will see many incidents of us defending and praising the decisions and actions of Bill Polian.
There's a reason the man will go to Canton when he retires. He's a genius at building football teams.
To provide you some context, I'll juxtapose Bill Polian with Josh McDaniels, the head coach and (essentially) the president of the Broncos football operations. McDaniels, for whatever reason, has total and complete control over his roster. It's not like he earned this job, or anything, being essentially Tom Brady's ball boy in New England after Charlie Weis left the Patriots. McDaniels makes all the draft, free agent, and general roster decisions; same as Polian for the Colts.
Now, while I am often critical of Bill Polian for draft picks made in, say, the third round, at the end of the day this is just me holding Bill to a higher standard than everyone else. If I held a yutz like McDaniels to that standard, you'd see me at the Denver facility with a pitch fork and a torch!
To give you an example using recent news.
Reports out of Denver (via PFT) say that Josh McDaniels and the Broncos may cut second year corner Alphonso Smith when the team has to get its roster down to 53. Smith, you might recall, was Denver's second round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. In fact, Denver traded a first rounder in 2010 with the Seattle Seahawks so they could move up to pick #37 and grab Smith.
Needless to say, Smith has bombed in Denver, which explains why the team is considering cutting him. This type of screw-up is not JaMarcus Russell in scale, but it's still pretty damned bad.
The players Denver missed on by taking Smith are people like Phil Loadholt, Rey Maualuga, Ron Brace, and Shonn Greene (just to name a few). If Denver had not traded up to get Smith in 2009 (and thus kept their 2010 first rounder), they would have been able to take Earl Thomas, Bryan Bulaga, and Kareem Jackson.
Just a huge, massive, near Titanic screw up by McDaniels. As a team in the (hopefully continuing) salary cap era, you absolutely cannot bust on trades and draft selections like that. I say this knowing full and well Denver fans probably won't think to well of me 'bashing' their head coach, but whatever. I'm not here to placate Denver fans. I'm here to write my opinion, and I don't think my opinion is too far from the norm when I say Josh McDaniels screwed the pooch trading up for and selecting Alphonso Smith. Bad trades and poor draft selections seem to be the hallmark of Josh McDaniels. See Tim Tebow.
Now, take that mess and compare it to the Colts. If Bill Polian ever did something like the Alphonso Smith trade, I'd damn near lose my mind. However, I know Bill will never do such a boneheaded move because Bill is Bill. Sure, his third rounders are often garbage, and he has a tendency to do a piss poor job finding quality o-linemen in the draft, but Bill has never botched picks like McDaniels has in Denver. The closest is Tony Ugoh, and that guy might still be somewhat salvageable as a guard.
This doesn't even take into account all the diamonds Bill has found in later rounds and in collegiate free agency. Names like Pierre Garcon, Melvin Bullitt, and Antonio Johnson are the reason why the Colts have such great depth, despite what football novices like Bill Simmons think.
So, when you read me being critical of Bill Polian, when you see me getting a bit combative about a decision he's made, I very much hope you will remember that I do this because I hold Bill to a higher standard. I don't put him on the same plane as people like McDaniels, or Jerry Angelo, or even Bill Belichick (who has busted several picks in recent drafts).
Bill is in a class all by himself.