|One man's opinion: injuries conspired to sink Indy's season in 2011. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
The Colts won two games in 2011. Two days into 2012, owner Jim Irsay began the house-cleaning by firing team president Bill Polian and his son, general manager Chris Polian. The front office had come under scrutiny after quarterback Peyton Manning began the season on the sidelines while he recovered from multiple neck surgeries and the team had no viable backup to replace him.
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On Thursday, almost two months after Polian was fired, he spoke to the media about where it all went wrong. The Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport asked Polian what he learned about team-building after Manning's injury kept him in civvies on game day.
“No. 1, don’t have injuries,” he said. “And don’t have them in big bunches, either, specifically not the offensive line. And six starters on defense. You can’t overcome that. You don’t use injuries as an excuse or a crutch during the season, but when you lose, I think we lost nine starters, excluding Peyton for the bulk of the season, you can’t overcome that. That’s just the perfect storm.”
Hmm. Here's what we got from Polian: Don't use injuries as an excuse or a crutch during the season, but after the season it's fine.
Look, injuries make it that much more difficult to win in the NFL, but it's not impossible. The Packers suffered a ton of injuries in 2010, slipped into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed and won the Super Bowl. The Patriots, Giants and Steelers also lost a number of key players this season and all three teams made the playoffs, and two made it to the championship game.
Polian also admitted that the quarterback situation behind Manning was a fiasco.
“From the backup quarterback standpoint, I’ve said all along, I thought that we probably, I probably could’ve done a better job of building up that position,” he said via Rapoport. “But it wasn’t for lack of trying. We tried very hard once we knew that Peyton was going to be a long-term situation to try to make a deal for an established quarterback, but we couldn’t do it.”
Again with the qualifications -- "It wasn't from the lack of trying!" and "We tried very hard!" This isn't Pop Warner where everybody gets a trophy and trying hard is all that matters. In the NFL, players and coaches are judged on one thing: results. Ultimately, Irsay judged Polian, too, and it cost him his job. Polian did admit, however, that he has a newfound respect for what the Patriots pulled off in 2008, when Tom Brady went down in Week 1 and Matt Cassel stepped in and went 11-5 (although New England missed the playoffs).
“Well, they did a nice job,” he said. “They did a nice job. But they didn’t have… they had a great defense to go along with it, we did not. Much of it was lost to injury over the course of the season. That’s the difference between the two.”
Remind us: whose fault was it that the Colts' defense wasn't very good?
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