Colts President Bill Polian Not Overly Concerned About Umpire Placement
INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Polian said he's not overly worried.
Polian, in his 13th season as the Colts' president, said while it's true that issues arose in the team's third preseason game this past Thursday over the league's new placing of umpires during plays, he's not concerned the situation will have negative effect on the Colts' offense.
He also said that as is the case with any change, time is needed for ideal implementation.
"It's a work in progress," Polian said Saturday afternoon.
Polian, a member of the NFL's Competition Committee, said he voted in favor of the change this past off-season. He said Saturday while he believes the league office will continue to focus on the issue, he is not worried the rule will prevent the Colts from running their up-tempo style offense.
"If I thought that would be a byproduct of it, obviously I would not have voted for it," Polian said. "There are mechanical issues that we have identified. I think most teams see that. It's not us alone.
"There are certain times of the game, and certain down and distances, where it's going to become more of an issue. They have to be aware of that."
The NFL Competition Committee, league office and officiating department this off-season implemented a change in mechanics mandating the umpire – who often places the ball for the center-to-quarterback snap – line up behind the quarterback rather than in the area of the linebackers.
The umpires move back to their old position behind the defense in the final two minutes of each half.
The rule was put in place for safety reasons to protect the umpire.
The league early in the off-season told teams that quarterbacks were to wait to snap the ball until the umpire has lined up behind the deepest offensive player. In their loss to Green Bay Thursday, the Colts twice were penalized for snapping before the umpire had cleared the running back.
Polian said it wasn't coincidence the issues became high-profile in the third preseason game.
"We recognized as a committee that the third preseason game was going to be a good test, because in virtually all cases your top-line players were playing and playing a long time," Polian said.
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and quarterback Peyton Manning in training camp publicly expressed concern over the change. The Colts utilize one of the quicker-tempo offenses in the NFL, with Manning calling plays at the line of scrimmage and often receiving the center snap seconds after the ball is placed.
"In our case, we told the league office and the officiating department that we would do all we could to push the tempo and try to create situations where we could find out what kind of picture we were going to see," Polian said. "That's what occurred. We'll go back and talk about the postmortem.
"I'm sure there are some tweaks that they will make and we'll move forward."
Polian said the necessary changes aren't major.
"I don't think there are many," he said. "I think they're mechanical in nature."
Polian said the rule was put in place recognizing there would be issues with:
• The mechanics of the umpire placing the ball and moving into position.
• Certain penalties that might or might not be called based upon new positioning.
Polian also said the reality is the full effects of the change may not be known immediately.
"When we make a change, whether it be a rule or a change in mechanics – which this is – it normally takes two seasons to see the full extent of it," Polian said. "We're very well aware of it. . . .
"I don't think we'll see the full imof it until we roll into the regular season and get a full season's worth of work with it. My concerns right now are simply mechanical."
Polian said the rule was changed because the Competition Committee, the NFL office and the officiating staff believed the safety of the umpire had become a concern.
"We felt then there was a physical danger issue," Polian said. "That issue has become more exacerbated over time, so it was the intent of the committee and the officiating department to make sure we created a situation that was as safe as possible for these guys.
"It had reached the point where the physical safety of the umpire was becoming an issue."
Also on Saturday, the Colts announced they had claimed defensive back Danny Gorrer off waivers from New Orleans and waived wide receiver Dudley Guice, offensive tackle Andrew Tyshovnytsky, linebacker Trevor Anderson and kicker Garrett Lindholm. The Colts also placed defensive back Marcus McCauley on injured reserve.
Polian on Saturday also discussed:
• The return game. Polian said the area has improved in the preseason, and said it doesn't matter if the team has one player returning punts and kicks, or if one player does each. "It's very much improved," he said.
• The development of wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who caught 47 passes for 765 yards and four touchdowns last season. Garcon caught two passes for 42 yards and an 18-yard touchdown Thursday after missing the first two games of the preseason. "He can get better," Polian said. "He got set back a little bit by the injury. You would have liked to have seen him have a real full camp, but he's doing fine and there is more to go."
• The use of the fullback in the Colts' offense. The team typically does not keep a fullback on the regular-season active roster, in the past using defensive tackles such as Dan Klecko and Eric Foster at the position. Defensive tackle Mitch King has worked at the position this preseason. "The number of plays where you would use a fullback do not justify carrying one," Polian said, adding that the Colts use a fullback less than three plays a game during the season. "The value isn't there."
• The recent play of backup quarterback Curtis Painter. A second-year veteran, Painter threw three interceptions in the first preseason game against Buffalo, but in three preseason games, he has completed 20 of 36 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions. "I have never felt bad about Curtis Painter," Polian said. "I felt good about him last preseason, and yes, he has played well the last two weeks, but we're not surprised."