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: Regarding scenarios about keeping Peyton Manning and possibly adding a quarterback with the first pick in the draft, is there a way for Peyton to restructure that himself on his own with your agreement? Is there a way Peyton could be a player-coach and help the first pick?
A: First of all, you're presuming a lot there. I don't know what other four scenarios are out there, and (I) wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about them if I did, but the fact of the matter is the answer to question number one is, 'Yes, you can restructure.' Either party could restructure if they wished. Secondly, Peyton I don't think would necessarily want to coach, and I'm not sure that would be a wise idea anyway, at least not while he is still an active player. After he retires, that's another story altogether. The issue of the draft, I want to really emphasize this. First of all the only quarterback that anyone is talking about, and I underline the word 'talking' or 'writing.' No one's done any scouting reports on this. As Bill Parcells very, very presciently said and correctly said on the air the other day, 'There is no first-round draft choice. Nobody that counts has made any decisions.' Having said that, of all the names that are being bandied about only the young man from Texas A&M, Mr. (Ryan) Tannehill, is eligible right now to come into the draft. Everyone else must make a decision as to whether or not to declare for the draft. We are not allowed to speak about those people. We are not allowed to conjecture about them. We're not allowed to talk about them. We're not allowed to write about them. All the other so-called 'experts' can write, talk, conjecture to their heart's content. We can't. That's against NFL rules. I was reminded of that recently by a colleague and an executive in the NFL Office because he had been hearing so much being bandied about that he thought maybe some of it was coming from us. In fact, nothing is coming from us about any of those fellows. I've said that on this show before. I want to emphasize that again. No one here will have anything to say about anybody in the draft until such time as they're declared. Now, let's get to the next step. There are basically five things that we use to determine who we will draft. The first is the scouting reports from the scouting director, from the area scout, from the supervisory scout that goes over the top in that particular section of the country, from (Vice President and General Manager) Chris and myself. Second, is the medical report. Third is the mental acuity report. Fourth is the psychological report. Fifth is the background check. As we speak, the number one criteria, number one of a list of five, the scouting reports, are just being collated as we speak. No one in this building has anything but a passing knowledge, no pun intended, of anyone in the draft at any position. At the end of the month, the scouts will put up a preliminary – underline, italics, exclamation mark – preliminary board which is subject to vast change when the other four components come in. Right now, there is no foregone conclusion that we will draft anyone. As I say, everyone else is welcomed to their opinion but as it happens, ours is the only one that counts. Ours won't be available until April. Everybody can conjecture all they wish, and I guess that's fine. It doesn't matter to me. I don't think it matters to (Director of Player Personnel) Tom Telesco, or Chris, or anybody else in this building. The bottom line is, ours is the only opinion that counts, and we haven't even scratched the surface of making a decision at this point.
Q: How would Peyton Manning handle a first-round pick being used on a quarterback?
A: That presumes that there's a quarterback there to take, and it presumes that we make a decision to take one. As I just said in an answer to a previous question, that's an assumption that I'm not willing to make at this point in time because I don't have enough information to make an educated pick there, or an educated selection. I was asked last week under the salary cap might that be feasible? The answer to that is 'yes,' simply because the reduction in what you would pay a high draft choice at any position is lower than it used to be, so it would work from a salary cap standpoint. Is there a player there that would be appropriate for us to take? I can't tell you that right now.
Q: Can you talk about the moves of Jerraud Powers and Terrence Johnson to injured reserve? Also the team claimed linebacker Zac Diles.
A: They are and unfortunately the docs probably confirmed that as we were on the air here. There are probably still a couple of moves left to make, and we'll get with that later in the evening. It's a tough situation to lose to fellows like that. We'll see how it goes, but you've just got to keep punching. There's nothing you can do about it. The nice thing is both fellows will be back next year and they're both really good players. They are going to be a big plus for our secondary.
Q: What can you say about Zac Diles?
A: He can run. He's not a tremendously stout fellow. He's not 250 pounds, but he can run and he's a hitter and he has a good nose for the ball. He's experienced, which at this stage of the season is really important. (He's an) outside (linebacker).
Q: Is there a chance the club could go to a 3-4 defense with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis playing on the outside? Do we have the personnel to play inside on the line?
A: The answer to that is 'no.' If we went to a 3-4, we would have to fill in with some bulky people to play nose tackle. I think we probably have enough fellows to get by at defensive end, depending on what kind of a 3-4 you wanted to play. If you wanted to play the way Pittsburgh does the answer is 'no,' we only have one player on this team who would fit the bill for that. If you wanted to play the way Wade Phillips has in Houston, which is easier said than done because I think he is the only guy who can do it, but if you want to play with adaptive personnel and what I like to call 'an adaptive 3-4' where he takes what he's got it and melds it, you could probably do some of that. We'd need a stout nose tackle and we probably would need a stout left end. You're right, Dwight (Freeney) and Robert (Mathis) would be fine outside linebackers. I think we have good enough people to play inside linebacker, but it's the front that would be the difficult part.
Q: Could Peyton Manning's last surgery have been avoided through routine chiropractic care?
A: Let me stop you right there. That is completely and totally untrue. There is no evidence whatsoever that that is the case, none whatsoever. Excuse me, I just wanted to emphasize that point. What is your second question?
Q: How is chiropractic care used by the team? If it isn't used, why isn't it?
A: We do have a chiropractor who treats players. He does so within the bounds of guidelines set by our team physicians. It works pretty well I think for certain players. Some like it, some don't. Again, excuse me for interrupting. I just don't want any kind of inaccurate information out there. Peyton's situation could not have been avoided under any circumstances whatsoever. It was an injury that simply occurred as a matter of wear and tear. It was treated appropriately, diagnosed appropriately, dealt with appropriately. There is no reason to second guess or even question anything that went on with his care.
Q: Can you comment on the coaching decision not to use a power back in the goal-line situation? It seems we could have used the back we drafted for the purpose. Also, there was a third-and-14 late in the first half where the team ran. Can you comment on that? Players haven't given up, it seems the coaches could have called something different and not been so conservative.
A: First of all, these are two different situations. It is a matter of, 'Six of one, half dozen of another.' I guess it's where you sit. The issue of Delone Carter not being in on first-and-goal on the one-(yard line) is a valid point. He fumbled. He's fumbled three times I think during the regular season here, including once (Sunday) to kill a drive. Fumbling is a cardinal sin around here, and I think the coaches may have felt more comfortable with Joseph (Addai) in there. If you ask Jim Caldwell, he'd probably tell you that's a 50-50 decision. (Quinn) Ojinnaka came in as the wing. The reason we were in two tight ends and didn't have the fullback in there was because we wanted the play-action pass, which we threw on the very same series, which of course (Jerod) Mayo got his hand on. We didn't have a perfect throw, and Mayo got his hand on it. There's a reason for that. The third-and-14 is a very conscious decision that we made going into the football game. We said we were not going to give them any easy scores. We're not going to turn the ball over. We're not going to take wild and crazy chances. We're not going to match them score-for-score. It's true that the franchise is out of the playoffs (and) we have nothing to lose, but we want to win games. We don't like this. We want to win games. The best way to win a game was not to give them an easy score, which an interception on third-and-14 (would have done). The situation we're in with a backup quarterback, there is a high frequency of that with that team. They take the ball away very well. We ran, and I believe we punted after that. That was the right move to make. This discussion by the way has been going on well over 100 years, as long as football's been played, and it will go on until we stop playing football. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I would not argue with that call at all. In fact, it was part of a larger game plan designed to make them earn every point they got. It was entirely in keeping with what we were going to do, and the players knew it. Jim (Caldwell) explains the game plan to them. They knew exactly what we were going to do and in what situations we were going to run the ball, so no problem with that at all. It was part of the plan. You can criticize the plan and, as I said, that goes on and will go on forever, and that's perfectly okay. It was part of the plan, and I think in the long run it proved pretty successful. The issue of not converting on the goal-line, as I said at the top of the show, was a critical one. We can't have that.
Q: We're going to Baltimore, and they do play defense, right?
A: They do play defense. They play defense big time, and they run the ball tremendously well. They come at you with all guns blazing in terms of the running game. (They have a) big offensive line (and a) big defensive line, (defensive tackle Haloti) Ngata and company, (and safety) Ed Reed. (It will be a) tough test.