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Mel Kiper: Colts 'One Of The Worst Teams In The NFL Without Peyton Manning'

ESPN's 'On The Clock' crew, consistsing of Mike Tirico, Trent Dilfer, Chris Mortenson, and Mel Kiper, finally got around to talking about the Indianapolis Colts' draft needs for 2011 (thanks to Azrael1987 for posting it). Not surprisingly, they talked about the very things we fans have been pretty much screaming over for the last few years or so:

Colts need to draft a left tackle.

Colts need to draft a defensive tackle.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

But, there were other things that jumped out of the segment that, in general, annoyed me. They didn't annoy me because this particular crew said them, or because they were false or incorrect. They annoyed me because they rung true.

Dilfer, referring to the Colts: There's never been a team with more flaws covered up by the quarterback.

Kiper: But I think what you look at with this Indianapolis Colts team, where would they be without Peyton? Picking one, two, three, or four [overall]? Clearly. Trent, where would they be?

Dilfer: You're right. Definitely the top seven.

Kiper: They'd be one of the worst teams in the NFL without Peyton Manning, No. 18.

Dilfer: Yes.

We've heard this statement before from the likes of Ray Lewis. In general, the statement is true. I think we all agree that without Peyton Manning, this Colts team is dog meat.

Now, I take flak from apologists and people who, for whatever reason, lack the capacity to put two and two together on this subject, but that flak never bothers me. What bothers me is when people defend stupidity, or try to dance around it with excuse-making. Let's use logic here, and separate ourselves from all the BS that often gets fed to us by both the Indianapolis Colts and established media like ESPN.

If we all agree that the statements made by Kiper, Dilfer, and to an extent Ray Lewis are true, then why the hell hasn't Bill Polian been fired, like, YESTERDAY!

I mean, seriously. Stop for a second. THINK before you freak out and start making unsupported statements about my mother, a midget, and a $20-an-hour hotel.

Stop yourself for two seconds before you make a stupid, insulting comment in the fields below and, instead, ponder all this.

I'm giving you fair warning: If I see another silly comment from someone being 'mad' that we continue to ask this question in light of obvious truths and reasoned opinions (like the ones expressed in the recent ESPN clip) I'm just going to delete the comment and dismiss you as a troll. Again, fair warning. Freak outs on this subject will get you kicked out. We want critical thinkers here, not 'yes' people and apologists.

If the job of the multi-million dollar team president (or vice chairman, whatever his title is now) is to build a championship caliber football team, then how can anyone say Bill and his son Chris have justified their jobs when the team is, apparently, so bad that we're picking in the top five of the draft without Peyton Manning?

I'm not asking this because I want Bill Polian fired (though, I admit I wouldn't be upset if he was). This. Is. A. Legitimate. Question.

If we're that bad without Peyton (who is 35-years-old now, by the way), what the hell has Bill Polian been doing to improve this football team the last few years? Right now, the answer is, 'Not much.'

Now, I'm going to go back to ESPN's 'On The Clock' segment because, while it is full of simple generalities and stuff we kind of already know, what it does give us is some insight into how other people view this team. And, if you notice, lots of people agree with this notion that our Colts team SUCKS without Peyton Manning.

I remember having an argument with John Bena at MHR about this last year prior to the start of the 2010 season. Back then, I thought the notion was utter nonsense. Bill Polian was above criticism, or so I thought. John told me, 'This team is nothing without Peyton.' I responded, 'This team has Dwight Freeney and Kelvin Hayden and Gary Brackett and many other excellent players. They could make the playoffs without Peyton.' He kind of chuckled and told me I was full of it. I responded back, 'If the Colts are a 6-10 team without Peyton Manning, Bill Polian should be fired right now.'

Well, the 2010 season happened, and as we all saw, when Peyton struggled, the team collapsed in on itself. It was only when Peyton got his act back together after the Cowboys game that this team managed to make the playoffs. I mean, how many games did we see Peyton seemingly will the Colts to victory last year? Even the year prior, in 2009, Peyton carried that entire team. Without a consistent running game, a defense that can stop the run, and a pass rush outside of Freeney and Robert Mathis, Peyton wills this teams to more wins than any other quarterback... ever!

Meanwhile, high priced players that Bill Polian drafted like Kelvin Hayden, Bob Sanders, Donald Brown, and Ryan Diem all struggled last year (and the year before that too). A defense which the Colts had invested tons of money and cap space in 2010 was 24th in points allowed and surrendered 2,032 rushing yards. I know this is a broken record to some people. Sorry, it will continue to be unless something changes. Simply not writing about, or pretending it isn't there, isn't going to fix the problem.

And the problem has been the Polians awful drafting the last few years. The ESPN crew talked more about this:

Kiper: How about Donald Brown stepping up like a first round pick at running back should. Donald Brown out of Connecticut has not yet played at the level they thought he would when they made him a first round pick.

Tirico: If you think about it, Brown, Anthony Gonzalez out of Ohio State, [the Colts] had the most impeccable sheet of first round picks there, and those guys over the last few years not being as productive has really hurt the productivity of the offense and everybody around Manning.

Now, apologists will point to generic stats showing the Colts offensive numbers the last few years, indicating that points per game is still relatively on par, and that the Colts have won a gaggle of games since 2006. They even played in the Super Bowl in 2010.

I beg you not to buy into that simplistic, conformist nonsense.

We all know that Indy's success the work of Peyton Manning. He is just THAT great. While players like Dwight Freeney and Reggie Wayne certainly assist Peyton in this success (in their respective ways), the re-occurring meme from both media and players is that this Colts team is nothing without Peyton. And, as the ESPN crew insinuates (and as we have stated seemingly since March of last year) the reason this team simply isn't all that good without Peyton is because Bill Polian hasn't done his job very well recently.

If he did, you wouldn't be hearing people taking these kinds of shots at the team's overall talent.

Dilfer: We always talk about the Colts and injuries, right? You know who gets hurt in the NFL? Small-ish, lighter, not strong players. The type of player the Colts have been drafting for a long time. They've got to get bigger, stronger, thicker at every position. Less injuries. More dynamic at the point of attack. It needs to be a philosophy within the organization.

Now, you can ignore these criticisms. You can dismiss them. You can run to other bloggers and writers who will offer you comfort food in the form of misleading stats and nostalgia on the great teams of years past. They'll even sell you on the fraud that 'it was just injuries' that derailed our team last year.

Here, we don't do that, and we're happy many appreciate that in us.

So, when we see more and more established media finally coming around to the point we've been trumpeting since March 2010, we hope that gives some of you a bit of an understanding as to why we have been so harsh with management of late. This team isn't all that good. Take Manning away, and we're actually talking about drafting Patrick Peterson, or Von Miller, or maybe even Cam Newton this year!

We have a ton of money and draft picks wrapped up in BAD football players.

This is why this year's draft and this free agency off-season (which will hopefully start soon once a new CBA is established) is so critical for the Colts. Right now, as currently constructed, this is not a Super Bowl caliber team. And unless Indy is competing for a Super Bowl, there is simply no justification for their ticket prices, concession prices, taxes on the stadium, and overall hype within the community. With Peyton Manning as the QB, the expectation should be winning more rings. I mean, that's what the owner keeps telling us the expectation is.

But if that is indeed the expectation, why isn't the team better talent-wise?

I'll go back and re-quote ESPN's Paul Kuharsky on this, because he gives strong hints as to why our team isn't all that good. This is from late-November of last year [emphasis mine]:

I know Polian is really big on 'value.' And there's no doubt, defensive tackle and offensive tackle are two spots where he said, quite frankly, that where [the Colts] draft in the first round, the prime guys are gone. And you're not going to find a franchise left tackle or, you know, a huge defensive tackle at 28 or 30 or 32. And so, [the Colts] don't go there. Well, that's fine. Don't go there. But, you gotta get there in the second round, and you can't miss on Mike Pollak and Tony Ugoh.

Missing on top draft picks has killed this team of late. It's been the difference between us being a Super Bowl winner and a Super Bowl loser. It's a big reason why the club has been one-and-done in the playoffs three of the last four years.

Again, the hand-wringers and excuse-makers will say, 'Well, we could be the Cleveland Browns.' We were the Cleveland Browns... until Peyton Manning showed up. And if Peyton Manning were the QB of the Browns right now, they would be the Indianapolis Colts.

In the end, one person is responsible for this team winning: Peyton Manning. You'll notice that Peyton Manning isn't the guy paid to construct and build the team. He's not the one person who makes ALL the final personnel decisions. That title belongs to the 'vice chairman' of this club.

Again, dismiss this line of thinking all you want. Mock it at your peril here. Run to other sites and chat with apologists and simple-minded excuse-makers who will feed you bullsh*t served on a silver platter. Here, the stone cold, in-your-face logic of reality-based thinking reigns supreme, and that thinking goes something like this:

If the Colts are not a good team, then Bill Polian hasn't been doing his job. And if Bill Polian hasn't been doing his job, Jim Irsay should replace Bill Polian with someone who can. And that someone should NOT be Bill Polian's son, Chris.

This year is a big draft for the Polians and Mr. Irsay. They cannot afford to screw it up as they have done other drafts. If they do screw it up, next year this time, Irsay will have to answer more Twitter questions about Bill Polian's job security, and we'll see more booing of the team at home.

Also, take this to heart: We speculated yesterday as to why Peyton Manning didn't sign the contract Jim Irsay offered him before the players were locked out. It's entirely possible that Peyton might want certain guarantees in his contract regarding changes to the roster, management, or the coaches. Peyton isn't dumb. He knows this team isn't all that talented. He knows he carries it. This is why he presses when players like Dallas Clark go down with injury. He's also good friends with Trent Dilfer, the man in the ESPN clip saying the Colts suck without Big P.

It's possible that Manning didn't sign the deal because he knows this team isn't good, and perhaps there's another team out there he can win a ring with. He's not a spring chicken anymore, and I doubt he has any love or loyalty for Bill Polian. Think on that for a moment, and then tell me if you think Bill Polian should retain his job if Peyton Manning walks away.