Indianapolis Colts

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What Have You Done For Me Lately, Polian?

Posted by coltsindianapolis on December 5, 2011 – 1:49 pm

Every week features a blog written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by  21issuperman.


There is a common saying in the NFL that goes “The NFL stands for Not For Long”. In other words, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league. Take, for example, Andy Reid. He is the second longest tenured coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick, has been to 5 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl, and has won 6 division titles. Despite all of this, many believe Reid is on the hot seat because of his team’s lacklustre performance this season. What has Reid done for the Eagles lately? Not a lot.

Many Colts fans are beginning to feel the same way as Eagles fans: frustrated. How has a perennial Super Bowl contender gone to league cellar dweller after the loss of just one player? Sure, they did lose one of the greatest QBs ever to play the game, but football is after all a team sport. Blame is being passed around like the mashed potatoes at a dinner table, with hefty portions going to the coaching staff, owner Jim Irsay, and Bill Polian; Polian will be the focus of our discussion.

Bill Polian is known for being able to draft very well and has a history of turning perennial losers into winners. However, some claim that as of late, Polian is losing his touch in his drafting. They say the best time to judge a player is 3 years into the league, so let’s take a look at the Colts draft picks from 2007 and 2008 and see how Polian has really done and give him a draft GPA. In looking at undrafted rookies, points will only be awarded. No points will be deducted because the team does not lose anything.


Round: 1 Pick (overall): 32 Player: Anthony Gonzalez – WR – OSU
Analysis: The curious case of Anthony Gonzalez. When healthy, Gonzalez has great chemistry with Peyton Manning and can really make some plays. In his first two years, Gonzalez caught 94 passes for 1240 yards and 7 TDs. Those are pretty solid numbers considering he played in an offense that included Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Unfortunately, despite his promising start, Gonzalez hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He suited up for just 3 games combined in 2009 and 2010, catching 5 passes for 67 yards; this season, Gonzo has suited up for 6 games, but hasn’t caught a single pass (which admittedly, is more likely to happen when your QB is Curtis Painter than when it is Peyton Manning). Gonzalez has become more of a luxury; it is nice to have him out there, but the offense will be fine without him.
Could have had: The next WR taken was Sidney Rice, who has done pretty well for himself. Paul Posluszny was taken 2 picks after Gonzo and has turned out to be a solid NFL linebacker.
Grade: B (3.0). Gonzo has tons of potential and if he could have stayed healthy, he would have been an excellent pick. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and is a luxury, rather than a starter. That’s not what you want from your first round picks.
Round: 2 Pick (overall): 42 Player: Tony Ugoh – OT – Arkansas
Analysis: The Colts traded up to get this pick. Ugoh had a solid rookie season and for the most part, he was able to keep people off of Peyton Manning. He seemed like he would be the replacement for Tarik Glenn. However, Ugoh become complacent and lazy; his play began to slip and he would end up losing the LT spot to Charlie Johnson. Ugoh was waived by the Colts in 2010, not lasting 3 years with the team that drafted him.
Could have had: The next offensive lineman taken was Pro Bowler Ryan Kalil (who plays center, not tackle). The next tackle taken was James Marten to the Cowboys (he is no longer in the NFL). The best player available at this time was again Sidney Rice. Steve Smith was also available. As was LaMarr Woodley (though he has shined in a 3-4 defensive scheme and there is no telling how he would do in a 4-3 stuck behind Mathis and Freeney).
Grade: B- (2.7). Ugoh did have lots of talent and promise, but he became lazy. Hard to pin that on Polian, which is why that is a B- and not a C-.
Round: 3 Pick (overall): 95 Player: Dante Hughes – CB – California
Analysis: Dante Hughes did not have a spectacular career with the Colts. He was waived in 2009 after getting 1 interception, defending 4 passes and 30 tackles in 24 games with the Colts.
Could have had: The next CB taken was A.J. Davis to the Lions. Michael Bush was available, though the Colts had the duo of Addai and Rhodes going, so RB was not a position of need. Safety Tanard Jackson went 106th overall to the Bucs.
Grade: C (2.0). Hughes did nothing for the Colts. If the Colts had taken Tanard, they could have had a solid backup for the oft-injured Bob Sanders.
Round: 3 Pick (overall): 98 (compensatory) Player: Quinn Pitcock – DT – OSU
Analysis: Quinn Pitcock was said to have lots of potential. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for either the Colts or Quinn. Pitcock retired after one season due to bouts with depression and a video game addiction. Pitcock’s NFL career was not spectacular, to say the least.
Could have had: The next DT taken was Paul Soliai to the Dolphins; he has done pretty well for himself, though it could be said that Soliai is better suited for the 3-4 than the 4-3. Tanard Jackson was still available, as was Zak DeOssie
Grade: C- (1.7). He had no impact on the team, though he did have lots of potential.
Round: 4 Pick (overall): 131 Player: Brannon Condren – S – Troy
Analysis: Brannon Condren did next to nothing for the Colts. He is currently a free agent and has spent time with a number of teams, including the Jets and Bengals.
Could have had: Le’Ron McClain was taken 6 picks later, though you could say that the Colts offense wasn’t the best place for a FB. Steve Breaston and Kevin Boss were both available
Grade: F (0). Condren did nothing for the Colts.
Round: 4 Pick (overall): 136 (compensatory) Player: Clint Session – LB – Pittsburgh
Analysis: Clint was a great player for the Colts. He was the hardest hitting of the LBs and was the best run stuffer of the group. In his first year as a starter, Clint amassed 94 tackles while playing in all 16 games. In his 3rd year with the Colts, he had over 100 tackles and 2 picks in 14 games. Clint’s 2010 season was shortened due to injury. After that season, he was a free agent and he signed a big contract with the Jaguars. Session was a great player, but not worth the 5 year-$30 million contract the Jags gave him.
Could have had: Again, McClain was available. The next LB taken was Dallas Sartz (who is no longer in the NFL) to the Redskins. The Colts got a great player here.
Grade: B+ (3.3). Solid player. Would have been nice to keep him, but he wasn’t worth that contract.
Round: 5 Pick (overall): 169 Player: Roy Hall – WR – OSU
Analysis: Like Gonzalez, Hall had tons of potential. He had all the physical tools (4.4 40 yard dash, 37 inch vertical, 10’+ broad jump), but was never able to stay healthy.
Could have had: The next WR taken was Legedu Naanee who hasn’t done too badly for himself. The very next pick was William Gay, a starting CB for the Steelers.
Grade: C (2.0). Hall had potential; it’s hard to blame injuries on Polian.
Round: 5 Pick (overall): 173 Player: Michael Coe – CB – Alabama State
Analysis: Coe also didn’t have a great impact for the Colts. He now plays for the Giants
Could have had: The next CB taken was David Irons (not in the NFL anymore). Desmond Bishop was available.
Grade: C- (1.7). He contributed very little.
Round: 7 Pick (overall): 242 Player: Keyunta Dawson – LB – Texas Tech
Analysis: Dawson was a LB/DE hybrid. The Colts used him mostly on the DL, rather than as a LB. Dawson was a decent player. He was never flashy and wasn’t a starter, but you could put him in there for a few plays while your starters got some rest.
Could have had: Ahmad Bradshaw was available, but Dawson was a solid pick.
Grade: B+ (3.3). He provided depth, and keep in mind he was taken in the 7th round.
Round: Undrafted Pick (overall): N/A Player: Melvin Bullitt – S – Texas A&M
Analysis: Bullitt has been a solid player for the Colts. He provided decent depth behind Bob Sanders and was reliable to be there when Bob went down. He quickly turned into a team leader and was voted by his teammates to be a team captain. Unfortunately, he has been getting injured a lot recently and hasn’t had much of an on-field impact for the team.
Could have had: Pierre Thomas was available as an undrafted player, but Bullitt was a solid pick up.
Grade: B+ (3.3). Bullitt stepped up and played decently when Bob was hurt. He was seen as a leader by his teammates. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

Polian’s overall GPA for the 2007 draft: 2.3

On to the 2008 draft:

Round: 2 Pick (overall): 59 Player: Mike Pollak – C – Arizona State
Analysis: When Pollak came into the league, his play was not very good. He was continually getting beat while taking snaps at guard. As he gained more experience, his play slowly improved. It has been said that his best position is center, so he will get a chance to show us whether or not he was worthy of being picked so high.
Could have had: Kevin Smith, Earl Bennett, Tavares Gooden and Jamaal Charles were all available.
Grade: B+ (3.3). He hasn’t shown much, but has been improving and hasn’t even had a chance to show his stuff at his best position.
Round: 3 Pick (overall): 93 Player: Philip Wheeler – LB – Georgia Tech
Analysis: Like Pollak, Wheeler didn’t do so great when he got his first chance to play. He was consistently out of position and eventually lost his starting position. Wheeler kept working and today, he is one of the better defensive players on the Colts. He has become a very good pass rushing linebacker and has been one of the few bright spots on the Colts team. His game just keeps getting better as he gets more experience.
Could have had: Mario Manningham was taken a couple of spots after Wheeler, but I think this was the best option. There are no other big name players at this point. This was a solid pick.
Grade: B+ (3.3). Started off poorly, but Wheeler kept fighting and is now a solid player.
Round: 4 Pick (overall): 127 Player: Jacob Tamme – TE – Kentucky
Analysis: Tamme didn’t play much at first. But last year, an injury to Dallas Clark threw him into the starter’s role and he responded. He put up great numbers and while he didn’t have the same impact as a Dallas Clark, he played very well. He put up great numbers and allowed the TE position to be a safety blanket for Peyton.
Could have had: Brandon Carr was selected 140th and has been a decent corner, but Tamme was an excellent pick and I wouldn’t have this pick any other way.
Grade: A (4.0). A 4th round pick came in and took the place of one of the primary targets on one of the better offenses in the league. He responded and posted up great numbers.
Round: 5 Pick (overall): 161 Player: Marcus Howard – DE – Georgia
Analysis: I personally liked Marcus Howard. However, when you are stuck behind 2 All Pro DEs in Freeney and Mathis, it will be hard to get playing time and make an impact. Howard was waived in 2009, but is doing pretty well for himself in the CFL.
Could have had: Carl Nicks would have been a beautiful pick.
Grade: C+ (2.3). Decent player, but didn’t have much of an impact.
Round: 6 Pick (overall): 196 Player: Tom Santi – TE – Virginia
Analysis: Hasn’t had a huge impact for the team, but it is hard to do that considering his situation. The starter at his position is an All Pro and the backup played very well. It’s hard to make an impact when you’re stuck behind two very good players.
Could have had: No big names stand out
Grade: C (2.0). Hasn’t had much of an impact.
Round: 6 Pick (overall): 201 (compensatory) Player: Steve Justice – C – Wake Forest
Analysis: I never really noticed Steve out there. Although, like Santi, it is hard to make an impact when the starter doesn’t miss many games and his backup is a 2nd round talent.
Could have had: No big names stand out.
Grade: C (2.0). Didn’t have much of an impact and is no longer in the NFL
Round: 6 Pick (overall): 202 (compensatory) Player: Mike Hart – RB – Michigan
Analysis: Hart had through-the-roof potential. When he was able to show the team what he had, he did pretty well. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so very often due to injuries. I personally wish we could have kept him, but he was not able to stay healthy enough.
Could have had: No big names stand out.
Grade: C+ (2.3). He did well when given the opportunity, but was not able to stay healthy.
Round: 6 Pick (overall): 205 (compensatory) Player: Pierre Garcon – WR – Mount Union
Analysis: Pierre has been a solid receiver for the Colts. He has stepped into a starting role and found his groove in the offense. He has all the physical tools (speed, strength, toughness) to be successful, but he does have some issues with dropping passes. It is very frustrating to watch because he will make a circus catch, but follow it up by dropping a very catchable pass. Considering he is a 6th round pick and the impact he has had, this was a great selection.
Could have had: Stevie Johnson was taken 19 picks later. Johnson has shown that he can be the number 1 receiver in an offense. Still, Garcon has done well.
Grade: B+ (3.3). Has had a great impact for the team, just needs to work on his hands
Round: 7 Pick (overall): 236 Player: Jamey Richard – C – Buffalo
Analysis: Jamey Richard didn’t get much playing time during his tenure with the Colts, but when he did (he got some playing time in 2008 due to an injury to Saturday), he played very well. He played well to the point of being named to Pro Football Weekly’s All Rookie team. He is currently a free agent, but has shown that he can play and do a solid job (being center for an offense led by Peyton Manning is no easy task).
Could have had: No big names stand out.
Grade: B- (2.7). He wasn’t able to stay on the team for a long period of time, but did his job well when called upon.
Round: Undrafted Pick (overall): N/A Player: Eric Foster – DT – Rutgers
Analysis: Foster has become a solid player on the defensive line. He isn’t too big, but he has speed and his motor is always running. He suffered a pretty gruesome injury this year, but has done a decent job for the team in the past and even turned into a starter.
Could have had: No big names stand out. Other solid undrafted rookies in this draft include Davone Bess, Kyle Arrington, Danny Woodhead and Jamie Silva (who was picked up by the Colts).
Grade: B (3.0). You don’t often find a guy with his leadership and motor as an undrafted player. Great pickup.

Polian’s overall GPA for the 2008 NFL draft: 2.8

In the last two years, Bill Polian’s draft picks earn a 2.55 by my rankings. Sure, it’s no 4.0, but expecting a 4.0 is completely unrealistic; 2.55 is a solid ranking. Polian has done a very good job of finding late round impact players. Many of his picks (Gonzalez, Hart, and Bullitt to name a few) have been injured and not able to have a big impact, but we can’t expect Polian to see into the future and predict injuries. There are a number of reasons why the team is not performing well this year, but there is not a good case for the “lack of talent” excuse; Polian has done a great job of bringing in talent, but poor coaching has not been able to take advantage of it. Clearly, the talent is there. It’s just a matter of finding a way to bring it all together. That responsibility falls on the coaching staff, not on Polian.

As for the people who want Polian to be fired, I don’t understand it. He has created successful teams in Buffalo (made 4 consecutive Super Bowls), Carolina (went to the NFC Championship game), Montreal (won a Grey Cup), Winnipeg (won a Grey Cup) and Indianapolis (2 Super Bowl appearances in 4 years, a Super Bowl title, many division titles, and more). He is a 6-time NFL Executive of the Year award. If Polian has really lost his edge in recent years, we would be talking about this team as though 0-11 in the norm, not an anomaly. If you don’t want a guy with a proven track record on your side, send him over to my team. We will gladly take him. What has Polian done for the Colts lately? Quite a lot.

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