|Bill Polian: Lots to consider when it comes to shelling out top money for elite slot receivers||03.05.13 at 5:52 pm ET|
We have already written about how this is a key offseason for slot receivers, as many of them are either pending free agents or close to free agency and as a result, teams that have a top-level slot receiver across the league are looking at the Wes Welker situation as a potential contract that will set the bar for other elite slot guys like Victor Cruz, Danny Amendola and Percy Harvin.
On Tuesday afternoon, former NFL exec Bill Polian — who helped build the Bills, Panthers and Colts and is now an analyst for ESPN — was asked about any reservations GMs might have when it comes to paying top-level slot receivers like big-time receivers.
“I don’t know that if there is any reservation about that other than injury and longevity. [Danny] Amendola has been injured. He’s a very good player, but you have to take the injuries into consideration,” said Polian on a conference call with reporters. “That’s where it comes into play. I don’t think it’s necessarily small-bodied or even more quick than fast guys. They’re productive and have proven to be productive. I don’t think they come along every day. So I don’t think there is a glut of them on the market. In Wes’s case there is age and in Amendola’s case the injury so that plays into it.
“[But] how much are you willing to commit to any individual player given your cap situation, a flat cap?” he added. “It’s essentially a flat cap, and the ability to field the team within that flat cap. All of those things come into play. I don’t think it has to do with a specific position or a specific body type. Free agency is much more, much more about individuals, their productivity, their injury history, their age and their cost than the draft is. They’re almost diametrically opposed.”
|Bill Polian: Good draft for offensive line, linebacker and safety||02.23.13 at 1:46 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Polian said this draft is well-stocked for a team looking to make additions at three different positions: offensive line, linebacker and safeties.
“This draft is a draft that I think is pretty good on the offensive line — I mean, throughout. Not just the first round. It’s pretty good on the offensive line,” said the former Colts GM at the scouting combine on Saturday afternoon. “I think there are some pretty good linebackers. I think there are some really good safeties. You probably would lean toward defense if you drew a line and said which side of the line this draft is heaviest on.”
Polian, who now works as an analyst for ESPN, said that while he’s not sure which direction the Patriots will go this year, he was impressed by what they did last spring when it came to restocking their defense with first-round picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
“I’m not sure which direction they’d go — they make that decision,” Polian said of New England, which holds the 29th overall pick in the draft. “They’ve done it well, making great use of all their picks — their multiple picks — to shore up the defense recently. They’ll make the right decision.”
|The departure of Bill Polian and the possible end of the Patriots-Colts rivalry||01.03.12 at 1:16 am ET|
While new characters in the long-running rivalry will surely pop up sooner rather than later, the news that Bill Polian has been fired closes a momentous chapter in the decade-long rivalry between the Patriots and Colts.
After working as the GM of the Bills and Panthers, Polian came to Indianapolis prior to the start of the 1998 season. The Colts, who had the first pick in the 1998 draft, went with Peyton Manning, which started a turnaround that saw Indy go from 3-13 in 1998 to 13-3 in 1999. And under Polian, Manning and coach Tony Dungy, they would become a perennial playoff entrant soon after that.
In many ways, their rise to power mirrored that of the Patriots. The two organizations were AFC royalty — in the nine seasons between 2001 and 2009, either the Patriots or Colts represented the AFC in the Super Bowl six times. They always provided great drama, a terrific study in contrasts. Indy was an offensive juggernaut playing indoors on the turf, while the Patriots were a defensive powerhouse that thrived in the cold and snow. That extended to the quarterback spot: Manning and Tom Brady became contemporaries, football’s version of Bird-Magic or Russell-Chamberlain.
The rivalry peaked between 2003 and 2007. Watching those games, it put you in the mind of great theatre: In 2003 and 2004, the two teams met in a pair of postseason classics, with New England getting the better of the Colts on each occasion. The Patriots also won two memorable regular season games those two years, with New England taking a narrow victory in Indy in 2003 and an equally dramatic win in the 2004 season opener.
For whatever reason, Polian enjoyed sitting in the press box during games, where his passion was on full display for the media. During the 2003 AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Polian raged from the press box at perceived pass interference penalties that weren’t called against the New England secondary, at one point yelling, “Throw the (expletive) flag!” He was a member of the NFL’s competition committee, and that offseason, in a move that was widely perceived as a swipe at the Patriots, lobbied for stronger rules when it came to pass defense, cracking down on illegal contact and defensive holding, rules that have had a colossal impact on the game the last few years.
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|The Big Nickel: Tom Brady back at practice, Jonathan Crompton on ‘Being Peyton Manning’||11.18.10 at 2:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Thursday.
1. As expected, Tom Brady was back at practice on Thursday, at least for the first 10 or so minutes of the session that were open to the media. Brady, who missed Wednesday’s practice with what was listed on the injury report as a foot problem, was not in the locker room during media availability, but went through the stretches and drills with the rest of the team at the start of practice. He did not appear to be hindered in any fashion. The injury report will be released at 4 p.m., and that should tell us if he was limited in any way.
2. Being Peyton Manning. Practice squad quarterback Jonathan Crompton said on Thursday that he and backup Brian Hoyer have been splitting duties working as Peyton Manning in practice this week, trying to prepare New England’s starting defense for the Indy quarterback. Hoyer has apparently been working in no-huddle sets and Crompton handling the other duties.
It’s a job that Crompton, a rookie out of Tennessee, is taking seriously.
“We just have to study and give our defense the best look we can. I know Brian does a real tremendous job with that, and so I’m just going out there and the both of us are just doing the best we can,” said Crompton. “The biggest thing is that you’ve got to know how to handle your job. That’s my role on the team right now, and I’ve got to do the best I can.
Giving the starting defense a reasonable facsimile of Manning is the sort of thing that goes a long way around Foxboro: In the days leading up to the 2003 AFC Championship Game, former backup Damon Huard did such a good job that he was singled out by coach Bill Belichick after the game, and he received a game ball for his efforts.
3. It’s still really hard to sack Peyton Manning. While the Indy quarterback is a stat-producing machine, one of the most intriguing numbers are his sack totals. In 201 games and out of 6,917 pass attempts over the course of his career, the Colts quarterback has been dropped only 227 times. That equates to one sack every 30.47 passes attempts, an extraordinarily low number for a pocket quarterback like Manning. No quarterback has been sacked fewer times than Peyton Manning since the NFL started keeping official track of the statistic.
This season, Manning has been sacked 12 times through nine games. While that number is relatively high for the Colts quarterback, it remains one of the lowest figures in the league among starting signal-callers. Why is it so hard to bring Manning down?
“You have to give his line credit — he’s always had a good offensive line. And he knows when to get the ball out,” said outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich. “Any time you’ve got pressure, you always see him throwing the ball off to an open receiver because he knows who’s going to be open and he knows every route that’s being run. So he can go through his progression quickly and throw the ball to somebody who’s open.”
[Click here to read more about what the Patriots plan to do to Manning this weekend to get him off his game.]
“His pre-snap reads are amazing. He pretty much knows what’s going on before he even snaps the ball,” said inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, who got his first career sack against Manning last November. “That’s the tough part.”
The Patriots’ pass rush has been inconsistent since the start of the season — through nine games, they have 18 sacks, tied for 19th overall — but they did come away with five sacks last week against the Steelers. Can any of that performance carry over this week against Manning and the Colts?
“We just have to keep moving in the right direction,” Mayo said. “There was a little hiccup in the road against the Cleveland Browns, but the four weeks previous to that, we were going in the right direction. Like I said earlier this year, we have a young defense and we’re trying to get better.”
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|Polian on issues facing Brady, Manning talks||07.03.10 at 8:19 pm ET|
Speaking on the Fenway Park field prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Orioles Saturday night, Bill Polian, the president of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke on what might await teams such as the Colts and Patriots when it comes to the challenges that will come with attempting to re-sign their superstar quarterbacks.
Polian noted having to commit a significant amount of financial resources to a top tier quarterback — such as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, both of whom are heading into the final years of their respective contracts — will inevitably have some bearing on teams’ the ability to construct a team. But Polian also points out that the level of impact won’t be entirely known until a new collective bargaining agreement is put in place.
“It’s bound to have some effect,” Polian told WEEI.com. “What we don’t know is what the system is going forward. It makes it really difficult working out a deal that makes sense for everybody because you don’t know what the [salary] cap will be, what the ramifications are, how things count. All of that makes it a little difficult. We’ve been going slowly along with [Manning's agent] Tom Condon because we’re trying to formulate some things that will fit no matter what the system is.”
The National Football League’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in March, 2011. And while such decision-makers as Polian and his Patriots’ counterparts will be hamstrung by the uncertainty that comes with not knowing what the new CBA might bring, there is some hope that there will be some inkling regarding what awaits. (For more information regarding the drama surrounding the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement click here.)
“We can’t get into the nitty-gritty because we don’t mow what the rules will be. And that will clarify itself as the year goes on because there will be talks, people will understand what’s on the table and what’s not on the table,” Polian said. “It’s not like you’re going to get a deal in October, I don’t think. If that happens it would be great. But at least you can get a feel for the way things are going.”
Speaking at a charity flag football game for Best Buddies at Harvard Stadium on June 4, Brady downplayed the drama that is surrounding his impending contract year, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it a whole lot because really there’s nothing anybody can solve other than the team and myself,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of guys in my situation, so really I just want to focus on what’s coming up this week. I’m just excited about being on the field with the guys. Things happen. Some are out of your control so you’ve just got to go with the flow.
“Really I haven’t been thinking about it a whole lot,” Brady said when asked if he is upset with not having a deal done. “It’s just part of the process. I love being out on the field with the guys and playing and that’s really where my head’s at.”
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