Edit note: Originally called Polian the owner, not the president. It's late and I'm an idiot. -TJ
Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian has had a rough couple of weeks.
Before the Super Bowl even happened, former VP of Officiating Mike Pereira called him out specifically for forcing an "illogical" (Pereira's words) emphasis on illegal contact through the NFL's competition committee.
I missed the interview at the time, even though it was local, but it caused a little stir here among New England Patriots fans who weren't busy forgetting football still exists.
Then came the big game and the undoing of the Colts on the biggest stage, as they gave up a 10-point lead to fall to the New Orleans Saints.
Bill Polian, speaking to the Colts' official team website (where you'll always have to face the really tough questions), had this to say about the team's loss:
"Our offensive line, by our standards, did not have a good game. They were outplayed by the Saints' defensive line. Our special teams, in terms of handing the ball—both in the return game and on the onside kick—were outplayed by the Saints. Therein lies the result. It had nothing to do with strategy or preparedness or toughness or effort. All of that was there. We just didn't execute."
You can read the article in full here . From the look of it, that's not a quote taken out of context at all.
Watching the game, I thought the blocking was amazing by both teams. The announcers apparently agreed, as one of them (I can't recall which off the top of my head) even said as much in the middle of the game.
Everywhere you looked there was solid blocking. Jermon Bushrod, not exactly the first guy you'd pick to be your starting left tackle in the Super Bowl, handled most of what Dwight Freeney gave him, though he did get beat a couple times in the first half.
I'll agree that the special teams had a couple iffy plays for the Colts, but find me a rational person on the planet who expected the onside kick and wasn't told about it beforehand, and maybe I'll agree that was one of the bad plays.
Yes, it could've been caught, but that's not a matter of execution, it's a matter of reacting to something you didn't practice for, you didn't prepare for, and you're not expecting.
The only other really poor play by the Colts was when Chad Simpson took the ball out of his own endzone to the Colts' 11 in the third quarter. Other than that, I thought both teams executed pretty well in the kicking game.
Yet Polian wants to blame special teams and the offensive line for the loss? Why not faeries? Or the fact that the game was played on an prime-numbered day? Or anything else that had nothing to do with why your team lost?
It makes no sense. The Colts lost because Drew Brees basically didn't throw a bad ball after the first quarter and Peyton threw several.
The Colts lost because the Saints had the gumption to go for an onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl. The Colts lost because Tracy Porter made a great play on a ball that was left out there to be intercepted.
The Colts didn't lose because their offensive line didn't block well.
Peyton Manning was only hit three times in 45 pass attempts, none for sacks. Joseph Addai averaged 5.9 yards per carry, taking 13 handoffs for 77 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Donald Brown added another four carries for 18 yards, good for 4.5 yards per carry.
Were they able to "punch it in" as Polian says from first and goal on the three-yard line? No, but they also weren't running the ball. They ran six plays from the New Orleans 13 or closer, and only one of those was a run, a Joseph Addai carry that went for negative two yards off the left guard.
On the other five plays, the line handled everything New Orleans threw at them, but Pierre Garcon's stupid offensive pass interference penalty pegged them back to the 13 when they actually had 1st-and-goal to begin with.
They also didn't get the first down at the end of the second quarter, when they ran that FB blast play to Mike Hart who, by the way, isn't a fullback. He weighs 206 pounds. It was a nice attempt at misdirection, but it wasn't the right time for it.
It's a play entirely built on a good inside push and getting the yard before they expect it. You can't expect a 200-pound guy with 26 carries all season to suddenly push the pile.
If they ran the QB sneak that had worked 1,000 times in the past, they would have been through to the half. Either way, that's not the line's fault.
Bill Polian does give considerable amount of credit to the Saints, which is obviously deserved. He also makes plenty of sense early on in the interview when he says:
"It doesn't take away from what we accomplished this season. There's a lot to be proud of in that regard and a lot to look forward to in that regard. Relative to the game, they simply out-executed us in a handful of critical situations, which in actuality changed the game. We knew that both teams would execute very, very well and make some really good plays, and they did."
But throwing the offensive line under the bus when they played what might be their best game of the season? Terrible.
It'd be terrible for Joe Colts Fan in some Indy bar.
It's especially terrible when it's the president of the team.