TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Why are the Indianapolis Colts so good?
Peyton Manning is the obvious answer, but here's a better one: Bill Polian.
|In 2007, Bill Polian (left) finally added a Vince Lombardi Trophy to his five NFL Executive of the Year awards. (US Presswire)|
Polian can be a hothead at times, which turns off some people. I know. I bore the brunt of one of his tirades a few years back. But that matters little when it comes to the true evaluation of the man.
He knows how to keep a roster filled with talent.
Spending time talking to Polian this week at the Colts training camp was a treat, his insights as good as any front office executive in the game. Polian built winners in Buffalo and in Carolina before joining the Colts, where he has done the same.
He said it's much tougher than it was in helping build the Bills into a four-time AFC champion.
"Yeah, a lot more challenging," Polian said. "In those days you plugged a player in and he was there for 10 years. You didn't worry about the position. Now you're changing 40 percent of your team every year, so it's much more challenging."
Polian fills holes better than any general manager in the game. He also knows how to put the premium on the right positions. If guards want to leave, so be it. They're replaceable. We know his track record on linebackers. He has let several starters (Mike Peterson, Marcus Washington and David Thornton) go, yet the defense hasn't missed a beat because he has keen instincts on finding quality replacements.
Manning is the key to the Colts, but the man who drafted him is the reason this team has had so much success.
One more Super Bowl victory and Polian will be on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Here's a quick rating of the top five personnel men in the game:
1. Polian. He embodies the "football man" moniker.
2. Scott Pioli, New England Patriots. He isn't just Bill Parcells' son-in-law. He's sharp. He's good at finding the right vets to fit onto the roster.
3. Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore Ravens. The Hall of Fame tight end is on his way to becoming a Hall personnel man. Too bad he has had so much trouble finding a quarterback, which has wasted a lot of talent he has found.
4. Phil Savage, Cleveland Browns. Take a look at that roster he's putting together in Cleveland. He learned from Newsome.
5. Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers. He has a youthful roster that went 13-3 last season. Plus, he had the you-know-what to tell Brett Favre to take a hike.