Bill Polian: Andy Dalton could have saved my job

Authored by Stew Blake on Aug 15, 2014
Bill Polian: Andy Dalton could have saved my job

Up until 2011, if you were talking about the Indianapolis Colts, you were talking about one of the many teams former Colts President Bill Polian helped to construct, and if he had it his way, you’d still be talking about his rosters – or so he’d like to think.
In comments highlighted by’s Judy Batista, Bill Polian still doesn’t seem to be comfortable with the fact that he and his son, Chris Polian, were jettisoned for fresh faces after a disastrous 2-11 season.
In fact, Polian believes that he would still be pulling the strings as everyone’s favorite grumpy puppet master if he had just selected Andy Dalton in 2011.
And maybe he’s right.
While Polian and his son made a solid selection in first-round tackle Anthony Castonzo, the Polian dynamic duo decided to shore up yet another position on a usually mediocre offensive line in the second round.
Villanova guard Ben Ijalana was the pick and after two consecutive ACL injuries, Ijalana was waived and claimed by the New York Jets.
So what if Polian had done something he had never done before – to find a competent and able backup quarterback – and selected the Texas Christian product?
If we’re to judge Andy Dalton by his somewhat respectable tenure as a Cincinnati Bengal, the answer to that question seems fairly simple.
Instead of plugging in a confused and ancient Kerry Collins at the midnight hour, or a totally inept Curtis Painter, the Colts would have had, well, an actual quarterback.
That much seems obvious, but what Polian is clearly overlooking is how cliché his revisionist history musings are.
He didn’t pick Andy Dalton because just like in previous drafts, Polian had made it clear that he wasn’t interested in finding a legitimate backup to arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Like so many others, Polian let Manning’s seemingly inevitable journey towards Brett Favre’s “Iron Man” record exist as a peace of mind.
There’s no way this guy could get hurt, right?
Wrong. Very wrong, Bill.
While Peyton exhibited seemingly superhuman durability during his first 227 starts, the odds pointed to a simple conclusion – at some point, the Colts would need a viable backup.
But the notably stubborn Polian chose to ignore the odds, and as a result, he faced the consequences and embarrassment of fielding the NFL’s worst team in 2011.
That’s right – the NFL’s worst team.
Manning’s absence ripped a colossal hole in the team-building fabric that Polian had once mastered, and that is where Polian’s professional ponderings veer off the path of reality, once again.
Whether he admits to it or not, Polian was on the way out.
He had lost a step and he knew it. Why else was he so ready to pass the torch to his inexperienced son?
Maybe Andy Dalton was the life support Polian’s Indianapolis career needed. Maybe Peyton Manning would still be an Indianapolis Colt and Andrew Luck a St. Louis Ram. Or maybe it was just time to move on from an era that had been continually resuscitated by the game’s most brilliant field general.
“If you don't have a backup quarterback that can do it, you basically just gave up your season.” –Ryan Grigson

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