Bill Polian is in his first season as Colts vice chairman after spending the previous 13 seasons as Colts president. Polian has a resume unique in the NFL. The only man to win NFL Executive of the Year six times, Polian in the 1980s built the Buffalo Bills into a four-time Super Bowl participant. In the mid-1990s, he built the expansion Carolina Panthers into a team that made the NFC Championship game in its second season, 1996. Since joining Indianapolis in 1998, he built the Colts from a 3-13 team in 1997 and 1998 into one that has made the playoffs 11 of the last 12 seasons, including AFC Championship game appearances after the 2003, 2006 and 2009 seasons, an AFC East title in 1999, AFC South titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010, Super Bowl appearances following the 2006 and 2009 seasons and a Super Bowl championship following the 2006 season. Each week during the season, in The Polian Corner, Polian and Colts.com will discuss issues pertinent to the Colts and the rest of the NFL.
The Polian Corner will run in two installments each week. Below is this week's second installment:
Q: Will Dan Orlovsky be starting next week?
A: Well, I can't answer that question because I haven't talked to coach (Jim Caldwell) about it, and I'm pretty certain he hasn't made any decision. In looking at the tape, Curtis didn't play nearly as badly as some people characterized it. In fact on the interception that he threw in the second half it might have been not the smartest throw he's ever made, but he got blasted by a blitzer as he delivered the ball. The fact that it was off target wasn't really his fault and as the last caller said, we didn't protect him well at all yesterday. That's a decision Coach (Caldwell) will make next week. In terms of my studying of the tape today, I thought that Curtis did a far better job than people gave him credit for.
Q: What is the plan to get a backup quarterback next year?
A: Well, I hope you're wrong. I hope we win some games this year, and I feel pretty confident we will. Relative to what we would do next year, I think a lot depends on what the salary cap is and how Curtis finishes. Up until the New Orleans game he played really, really well. The graph might be down a little bit since then but there still is six games to go, and he will benefit from this experience. Everybody says, 'Well, get a bona fide backup quarterback.' Well, my response is, 'Who is that?' There are a lot of guys out there that have failed, and a lot that were 'big-name' quarterbacks brought in to be starters this year who have failed. I'm all for having an experienced, veteran backup quarterback, and we did in Kerry Collins. Unfortunately he got hurt, on an illegal hit. (That's) just the breaks of the game, that's the way it goes. The question is, 'Who would that experienced backup be?' The second question would be, 'Could you afford him under the salary cap?' I think the first question is more important than the second. You can figure out a way to manipulate the salary cap if you have to, but the question is, 'Who is that person?' I've been over in my mind a thousand times and (Vice President and General Manager) Chris (Polian) has been over it in his mind a million times and (Director of Player Personnel) Tom Telesco has been over it a million times who that person might be and believe me the list is pretty darned short.
Q: Would you provide an update on Dallas Clark's recovery, and how are you and the coaches holding up during this tough season?
A: Thank you. Dallas is recovering. I think it will be a couple, maybe three weeks yet until he's back, and that's just a guess. We will have a much more accurate prediction when we get back to practice next week. I would say that he's questionable certainly for the Carolina game. Relative to how we're holding up, look no one likes to lose. That's especially true when you've won for a long time, and that's true of fans and players and coaches and staff alike. We are a highly competitive bunch. That's one of the reasons we've stayed up on top for as long as we've had. You recognize that sometimes fate deals you a less than perfect hand, and you've got to keep on plugging. For the coaches and for those of us in administration, we've got to set an example for everybody and keep punching. One thing we have around here, including Peyton (Manning), who is a heck of a leader, are people who don't quit. I've always subscribed to the old axiom, 'Tough times don't last, tough people do.' Tom Moore reminded me of that on the field yesterday before the ceremony. Those are words to live by. We will tough this out and we will be better for the experience, and we will be back stronger than ever.
Q: It is noteworthy that a lot of the players who were significant contributors to the long winning history still are on roster, isn't it?
A: Yeah, absolutely right. It's a two-edged sword. On one hand there are a lot of fellows who have been part of a long, long winning tradition, one that most experts would tell you is not supposed to happen in the National Football League. On the other hand, we have some fellows who are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. That's part of the picture, too. I think the bottom line is that every once in a while fate deals you these kind of hands, and you've got to plan. We are going to play it out until the end just as hard as we possibly can.
Q: What are the chances of going after Andrew Luck in the draft so he can be molded?
A: I'm not going to mention any particular player because we haven't made any decision on who that player might be. I'm around the country scouting this week. I will finish up, ironically enough, at Stanford, but only because it's the most convenient thing to do on a bye week. It has nothing to do with any choice that we've made at this point in time, or would make at any time until April. I have said this in numerous inquiries, I guess it's from people in the media more than fans, the bottom line is if the right person is there, and it has to be the right person, now is the time to consider that. Peyton and I have spoken about that, and he's fine with it.
Q: I would disagree with the notion that Curtis Painter is playing well. I don't think Dan Orlovsky could do worse than Painter.
A: Well, I guess we have to respectfully disagree. You're not watching the same tape I am, but everybody has an opinion. I understand that and respect it. As I said, Coach (Caldwell) will make the decision as to who plays. Whenever things go wrong there is an old cliché, 'The most admired guy in town is the backup quarterback.' Everybody wants the backup quarterback to play when the starter's not doing well, and Curtis hasn't done well over the past three games. Prior to that, he played exceptionally well. As I say, that's something coach has to look at. I'm not trying to paint a picture that yesterday's performance was good on the offensive side, it wasn't, but I wouldn't put it all on Curtis.
Q: Players with the bye week now have a mandated four-day break. How do you balance practice and rest?
A: Well for one thing, the four consecutive days off has never been a problem for us. We've always done it that way, and I suspect that Jeff Saturday in negotiating with the Management Council and people from the league office used our pattern as a model. That's not a problem at all. The first thing we'll do is make sure that anybody who's injured and/or needs rest, i.e. Pat Angerer for example, is given that rest. Kavell Conner is in that group. Philip (Wheeler) is in that group. Those (are) guys who've taken an awful pounding and keep coming back for more. We talked about it earlier in the show, but I can't give those guys enough credit. Then there are young fellows that need work, so we'll figure out a way to drill them. We'll be in a position where they probably won't be (doing) traditional kinds of drills where we might have an extended seven-on-seven or something like that. We'll probably do half-line, a lot of one-on-one, a lot of skill work and we'll get some people some work that they need. The most important thing is to get the guys who have been doing the playing a lot of the rest they need.
Q: If lineup changes are to be made, would that be next week as opposed to this week?
A: Yeah, oh yeah. This week will be a teaching week basically and a review week. Then we'll assess next Tuesday where we are in terms of healthy people and where we are in terms of efficiency in how we want to proceed going forward. Those changes, if Coach (Caldwell) elects to make them, would be reflected in next week's preparation. It won't have anything to do with this week.
Bob Lamey: Bill, as always we appreciate your time. Travel safely, and we'll see you when you get back.
A: Well, thank you. I appreciate once again the support of all the fans and even though I realize folks are upset and frustrated, and I accept that and take the vast majority of the responsibility for it, I also want to thank everybody for their support. They've been terrific, and we haven't given you a lot to cheer about this year. Hopefully as we go forward, we can put together the kind of performance in all three phases that we showed on defense yesterday. Your support is both valued, and we're very grateful for it.