Bill Polian Defends The Colts Draft And Says The Criticism Of Their Running Game Comes From “Stat Geeks” And Is Off Base
May 4, 2011 – 7:45 am by Steven Cuce
For the past few years, the Indianapolis Colts have done a disservice to Peyton Manning by putting together a patchwork offensive line consisting of undrafted free agents and lower round draft picks. It’s almost like the Colts organization has taken Peyton Manning for granted assuming his quick release and football smarts will overcome the deficiencies of the offensive line. And for the most part, they’ve gotten away with this. Well, he’s not getting any younger and the window of opportunity for the Colts to win another Super Bowl is getting smaller. Picking offensive lineman in the first two rounds to keep Peyton Manning’s jersey extra clean was a smart move.
Bill Polian joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with Grady and Big Joe (Staysniak, former Colts offensive lineman) to discuss the draft selections of Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana improving the Colts running game, Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana being run blocking type lineman, an update on Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez, how much thought put into selecting a quarterback in this year’s draft to groom for the future and if the lockout add any extra wrinkles or chaos to the draft process.
What do Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana bring to help improve the Colts running game?
“Well first of all let me say that I think the discussion about the running game is way off base. This is stat geeks looking at a stat and saying ‘oh gee Indianapolis has a problem’. We finished first in the conference and I believe second in the league in total offense. We’re always among the top four or five in scoring every year. The object of the game is to score. It’s not to make stat geeks happy in terms of yards per carry. I’m criticizing people, make no bones about it, who deal only in statistics. The object of our running game because we are high scoring, high powered, offense is to run effectively, i.e. run in the red zone, which we do very, very effectively. And run in four minutes and short yardage, which we have not done effectively. The improvement there I believe has to come from the back. That’s not the responsibility of the offensive line. You get a body on a body and a back has to either make somebody miss or more likely in short yardage you as know Joe run through a tackle. You know the idea of the idea of the statistical analysis of the running game is about as far off base as it possibly could be, in my opinion.”
How would respond to the critics saying Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana aren’t run blocking type lineman?
“I got news for you (Grady) and Joe I think will corroborate this offensive lineman have to do both. They have to run block and they have to pass block. We don’t substitute. This isn’t hockey. We don’t have a checking line and a scoring line. We have only one line and their job is to run block and pass block. Both men are pretty adept at that. I think they’ll adjust pretty well to the National Football League. As Joe would tell you the most difficult adaption from college to the NFL is passing blocking because the NFL defensive lineman are so much better by a factor of a hundred than those who they play against at the college level. So the most difficult part is not run blocking, is pass blocking because the defenders are so much quicker, so much more adept at moves, study so much more film, recognize various sets by offensive lineman much more quickly and the stunts, which are difficult to pick up are executed much more crisply than they are the collegiate level, so the tougher part is pass blocking and that’s what you focus on in terms of the ability, the skill set that people bring. Do they have quick feet? Do they have long arms? Can they position themselves? Can they recover? Can they so called ‘bench press’ a defensive lineman when at some point in time you simply have to sit down and anchor and stop that man in his tracks? Those are the things we look for and there is so much more emphasis on those. We can see whether a guy can run block right off the bat. I can look at five plays on a tape and tell you whether or not a guy can run block. It’s more difficult to ascertain whether he can pass block because you’re not looking at the same talent level playing against you.”
There was some criticism by the national guys over the Delone Carter selection, but we understand it due to the injuries at wide reciever position and there being a lack of depth on the roster. Can you give us an update on Austin Collie? Will he be ready to comeback this season? What about the Reggie Wayne contract situation and will you be able to get him resigned?
“Well the only person…there are no persons on our receiving core that have contract issues. Everyone has a contract for this coming year, so there are no issues. Secondly, in Austin Collie’s case and I spoke with him over the weekend. He’s feeling 100%. He’s working out. He’s having no symptoms, no repercussions, nothing that would lead anyone to believe that there is any long term issue with him, but in the case of a situation where he had two serious injuries you gotta be pretty careful and as a result we won’t know until he steps on the field and actually plays in a game and takes some hits, whether or not he will be capable of continuing at the high level he’s played beforehand, so that one is up in the air. Anthony Gonzalez is working out. He’s 100%. He could have come back for the playoffs, obviously we made a mistake in keeping him down, but you can’t be…you have to make those decisions on a week-to-week basis. You can’t be a soothsayer afterwards and say we made a mistake. Hindsight is 20/20. If we’d known he was going to be back obviously we would not have put him down. That was very much in doubt at the time that he was injured, but my point is there is no long term repercussions there. You know there are no contract issues in the receiving core. The question of Austin is an open question. We’re all hoping and praying that what we see now, which is 100% Austin Collie is what we are going to see during the regular season.”
How much thought did you have in this draft in terms of selecting a quarterback to groom for the future?
“We graded the quarterbacks that were in this draft. We thought there was one that had the capability of being a quality starter in the league that was not a developmental project and that opportunity to draft him did not come about and so we just moved on.”
Did the lockout add any extra wrinkles or chaos to the draft process?
“Well it’s been business as usual from the start of the lockout. Now the opening of the facility on Friday was definitely chaotic. We got word and admittedly a little bit late because we were so engrossed in the draft meetings, but we got word around 1:30 or 2 o’clock that we were to open the facilities I guess the following day. I’ve lost track of the days. In so doing we went scrambling and we ended our draft preparation and got into scramble mode in terms of trying to get in touch with players, opening the building, making sure that people that needed medical checkups got them, bringing them from far and long places in some cases, so that was clearly chaotic and then of course it ended as quickly as it started, but that’s the way these things go. You just have to…I’ve been through three of these things before and you just have to shrug your shoulders. Nothing really makes any operational sense. You just roll with the punches.”