AFC South: Chris Polian

RTC: No hyphen in Jean Francois

June, 24, 2013
Reading the coverage ...

We're off for the rest of the day. See you Tuesday.

Houston Texans

Left tackle Duane Brown is feeling a lot better after a bone spur was taken out of his ankle, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

Arian Foster is the Texan who leads the way for Houston, says James Palmer of CSN Houston.

A prediction of the 53-man roster from Dave Zangaro of CSN Houston. The last couple of spots go to cornerback A.J. Bouye, outside linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive lineman David Hunter.

What are realistic projections for Texans first-round receiver DeAndre Hopkins? Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle blogs wonders about what the rookie will be able to do.

Indianapolis Colts

Ricky Jean Francois still gets advice from his mentor, Donald Heaven, a CFL offensive lineman who coaches track and field at Miami Carol High School, writes Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star.

There is no hyphen in Jean Francois’s name, he tells Wilson.

To which I say: The AFC South blog offers its official apology.

Looking at the Colts' defensive strengths and weaknesses, with an interesting note about the Colts' cornerbacks in run defense, from Kyle Rodriguez at Colts Authority.

Looking at the Colts' offensive strengths and weaknesses, with a lingering concern about the interior offensive line, from Rodriguez.

Jacksonville Jaguars

General manager Dave Caldwell sees a great resource in his pro personnel director, Chris Polian, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Right tackle Luke Joeckel is signed, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union. The team’s website has a Rookie 101 with Joeckel, who says be broke an opponent’s collarbone and nose on the first play he ever made in tackle football.

To which I say: This is a glorious time. The No. 2 overall pick signs a month before training camp, because the CBA leaves minimal room for real haggling.

Maurice Jones-Drew worked with local campers over the weekend, says Phillip Heilman of the Times-Union.

Right now Alan Ball is the best man for the Jaguars; second starting cornerback spot, says John Oehser of

In his second season, Mike Harris has a good chance to be the Jaguars' nickelback, says Natalie Pierre of (Hat tip to Big Cat Country.)

Tennessee Titans

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy shaved his head to honor Brian Urlacher. McCarthy was limited in the offseason coming off concussion problems and ankle surgery, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

To which I say: I agree with Wyatt in the video and expect McCarthy to be the opening-day starter if he’s healthy.

Sammie Hill, whose father was an Alabama coal miner, prefers working above ground, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Jake Locker’s current status is a lot like Steve McNair’s in 1997, says David Climer of the Tennessean.

Looking at factors that contributed to Locker’s sacks last season and considering how often Locker will get sacked in 2013 with Tom Gower of Total Titans.
Chris Polian is officially the Jaguars' director of pro personnel.

Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell worked for Bill Polian and with Chris Polian in Indianapolis. Chris Polian became Indy's GM in 2009. Both Polians were fired following the 2011 season.

Caldwell then helped get Chris Polian hired in Atlanta. (Bill Polian became an ESPN analyst.)

Chris Polian may or may not be a good personnel evaluator. He was reportedly a driving force behind some Colts draft picks that did not pan out, most notably left tackle Tony Ugoh.

He had a reputation for having an oversized ego, and while I heard more tales of it, I saw it a bit myself.

I had limited dealings with him in Indianapolis. We stood and watched one training camp practice together, chatting off the record. He was affable and candid enough, but I felt rebuffed in efforts to develop a relationship beyond that.

Undeniably, his critics think he rose up the ranks in Indianapolis more because of whom his boss/father was than because of his résumé. Same now as he’s resurfaced in a prominent position with one of his father's disciples, if you will.

In working some with Caldwell so far and watching what he’s done, I feel very confident the Jaguars are in good hands. Polian’s new post isn’t one where he will be visible or out front, which is a good thing.

If he does good work, he can further refurbish his image. Maybe we'll see him as a GM again someday.

I hope to see him in press boxes in the late summer and fall.

Also in the Jaguars' front office, Caldwell promoted Andy Dengler to assistant director of player personnel. He spent the last two seasons as director of college personnel.

In addition to Polian, Caldwell hired made the following hires in the front office:
  • Kyle O’Brien, director of college scouting -- O’Brien spent the 2012 season with the Kansas City Chiefs as regional scout and is in his 12th season in the NFL. Prior to joining the Chiefs, O’Brien spent 10 seasons (2002-11) in the New England Patriots’ personnel department.
  • Paul Roell, assistant director of college scouting -- A veteran NFL scout of 21 years, Roell served as regional scout for the Minnesota Vikings for the past seven seasons (2006-12)
  • Mark Ellenz, eastern regional scout -- Ellenz spent the past 13 seasons with the Colts, including the last six as an area scout.
General managers making moves fire coaches when the season ends. They fire scouts after the draft.

When he took over as the general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Caldwell fired coach Mike Mularkey and most of his staff. Now he’s let go the top two members of the scouting staff he inherited as well as a scout.

Per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars have parted ways with director of player personnel Terry McDonough, director of pro personnel Louis Clark and southwest regional scout Chris Prescott. Prescott is the son of Jaguars former chief financial officer Bill Prescott.

Caldwell will now bring in his own people for those posts, and perhaps more.

One prime candidate is likely to be Chris Polian.

Caldwell worked for Bill Polian in Indianapolis, and Chris Polian was on the staff there. Caldwell came to Jacksonville from Atlanta, where the Falcons hired Chris Polian after the Polians were fired by the Colts following the 2011 season.

There will be other candidates with expiring contracts or who come free in similar moves with other new regimes.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Gary Kubiak’s endorsement of Rick Dennison as a head coaching candidate is a lot like Mike Shanahan’s once was for Kubiak, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

“None of this is calculus,” says Dale Robertson of the Chronicle. “If the Texans’ giveaways are fewer than their takeaways in their Foxborough encore, the statistical odds suggest they have a reasonable chance of reversing the outcome of a month ago when the Patriots administered a painful 42-14 razor cut at Gillette Stadium.”

Ben Jones versus Vince Wilfork is a key matchup, says Reid Laymance of the Chronicle. Jones should get a ton of help.

A look at the Texans’ worth beyond wins and losses from Loren Steffy of the Chronicle.

More consideration of the red-zone issues from Stephanie Stradley of the Chronicle blogs.

Houston’s offensive line played the best of all the teams that were in action on wild-card weekend, says Phil Gaskin of The Pulling Lineman.

Indianapolis Colts

Bruce Arians’ return to Indianapolis included at least a stop at another hospital, says Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star. But he’s said to be fine and is likely to start interviewing for head coaching jobs at the end of the week.

Reggie Wayne thought Ray Lewis’ final celebration Sunday was disrespectful, says Chappell.

A fan post at Stampede Blue by “JPZ” offers some interesting thoughts on free agents and draft picks the team could target.

Season awards for the Colts from Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue.

Receivers let down Andrew Luck in the loss to Baltimore, says Kyle Rodriguez of Colts Authority.

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Jaguars GM David Caldwell is likely to bring Chris Polian with him as director of pro personnel, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Gene Frenette of the Times-Union offers Caldwell advice on his new job. It includes this: “A lot of popular/veteran players -- Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox, Terrance Knighton, (Daryl) Smith and Brad Meester -- have expiring contracts. Forget sentiment. Put on the tape, then let your scout’s eye dictate whether to bring them back.”

To which I say: I doubt a new guy's going to have any sentiment for people who have been part of a previous, unsuccessful regime.

What Caldwell does at quarterback will define him as the Jaguars general manager, says Vito Stellino of the Times-Union.

Tennessee Titans

Tight end coach John Zernhelt felt good about the work he did and was surprised to be fired by Mike Munchak, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

To which I say: All the change so far has been to the offensive staff. Surely some alterations to a defensive staff that oversaw a unit that allowed the most points in the NFL are coming as well, right?

Derrick Morgan says pass rush coach Keith Millard helped him get better, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

“Ultimately, what happens next will determine how this season is remembered,” says David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper. “Either it will be the beginning of the end for Munchak’s time as head coach, which began with so much promise, or it will be the crucible that forged resolve and development among the many younger players currently on the roster.”

It’s hard to imagine the Jaguars' season isn’t building up to a shakeup.

Shad Khan signed off on a new contract for general manager Gene Smith as he took over ownership from Wayne Weaver late last season. Smith spearheaded the search for a new coach and the hiring of Mike Mularkey.


If the Jacksonville Jaguars look for a new general manager after the season, should they try to hire Bill Polian?


Discuss (Total votes: 1,031)

But half of a makeover is on course to prove insufficient.

And while Khan has shown he can be patient, he has to be getting antsy now seeing the payoff of his initial approach.

Pete Prisco of throws out the first name who could be the headliner in a major makeover: Bill Polian.

It’s a hell of an idea. Polian’s résumé is super, though his roster building failed him at the end of his tenure in Indianapolis.

Ideally you find a young up-and-comer who’s your guy. But if a Hall of Famer to be with a proven record is out there, the trade-off is a reduction of risk. Polian can be difficult to deal with, but would bring instant credibility.

The issue, I suspect, would be the level of control.
  • Khan could give Polian complete power in roster decisions.
  • Khan could predetermine the role of his Polian's son -- Chris was GM at the end of their term with the Colts -- and of his own son, Tony, who is part of the Jaguars' front office now.
  • Khan could insist that Polian be the more affable, likeable version of himself, and less of the crusty, dismissive personality that would be hard to sell to the fan base.

If he could get Polian to line up with that stuff, I’d sure be curious to see what he could do with that roster in three years.

Leading Questions: AFC South

February, 22, 2012
With the offseason in full swing, let’s take a look at one major question facing each AFC South team as it begins preparations for the 2012 season:


Can they keep Mario Williams?

He’s an incredible pass-rushing talent most every team would love to have. Yet the Texans might be in a position where they have no choice but to watch him move on as an unrestricted free agent.

They should have had planned better and not have allowed themselves to be in a position where the franchise tag is an impossibility. They cannot tag the defensive end-turned-outside linebacker for $22 million, so they either have to sign him or allow him to test the market. He talks affectionately about the Texans and what the franchise did for him, and that leads some to be optimistic about the team’s chances to hold on to him.

But once he’s out there and being courted, things can change in a big way with big dollars on the table.

Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed are great talents, but they’d be better, and the entire defense would be better, if Williams were part of it.

It would be difficult for the Texans to watch Williams lift someone else's defense and put up big sack numbers. He’s also been hurt a lot, however, and if that continues, maybe there won’t be so much regret if he moves on.


How does the Peyton Manning saga sort out?

It’s widely presumed the team is parting ways with the four-time MVP quarterback.

It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago. But several unlikely developments have all come together at the same time -- the uncertainty surrounding Manning’s arm; the team’s ability to draft Andrew Luck; the dismissal of Bill Polian and Chris Polian in the front office as well as coach Jim Caldwell and most of his staff; the hiring of new general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano; other core players (Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday, Robert Mathis) reaching the end of their contracts.

The soap opera has been long and drawn out. It needs to be resolved so the focus on the Colts can be about those new leaders, Grigson and Pagano, the messages they want to send, the guys they want on the roster, and the systems they intend to run.

Owner Jim Irsay has been sloppy as he’s tried to gain upper ground in a public relations battle with Manning, who has not comported himself perfectly, either, as he’s tried to manipulate the story. But for the health of the organization and for the benefit of Manning going forward, this thing needs closure.


Who can they add to help Blaine Gabbert?

No team should do more to assess the free-agent market for wide receivers than the Jaguars, who had a terrible, insufficient group last season.

Mike Thomas can be a good slot guy, but if the Jaguars really want to maximize Gabbert’s chances of success in his second season, he needs his primary targets to be much better. Jacksonville has plenty of cap room, and a new staff can sell someone like Vincent Jackson on the chance to be an unquestioned No. 1 and be paid like it.

Beyond the people he will be throwing to and the ones who will be protecting him, Gabbert’s new coaches will be a big piece to his progress. Can coach Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson get Gabbert more confident in the pocket and better able to focus on his reads than on the people around him?

The team has talked of having a better veteran backup behind Gabbert to help him. The Jags need that guy to be a safety net, too. It’s possible the 2012 Jaguars can compete for a playoff spot, provided they get sufficient play from their quarterback.


Can they become more of a playmaking defense?

The Titans got great contributions from several rookie defenders -- middle linebacker Colin McCarthy and defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug will be a big part of things going forward. So will strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers, who wasn’t as productive in his rookie season as the Titans hoped.

Will the team be able to find more playmakers to fill out their defense? Odds are cornerback Cortland Finnegan will depart as a free agent, and although the team hopes to re-sign Jordan Babineaux as one starting safety, it should be looking for an alternative to another of its free agents, Michael Griffin.

The Titans would be well served to find someone with more upside as a playmaker in Griffin’s spot. And although they still expect big things from Derrick Morgan, it’s again time to find a consistent pass-rushing defensive end.

They need to rush better from everywhere, which is why they hired Keith Millard as a multi-position pass-rush coach.

Getting bigger up front didn’t necessarily pay off the way they planned. Stopping the run first was a theme, and they finished 24th in run defense.
The Colts held out too much hope for a Peyton Manning return early on, then didn’t do well enough scaling things down as they went 2-14. That’s the view of the team’s former offensive line coach, Pete Metzelaars, who is now Buffalo’s tight ends coach.

Here’s a snippet from comments he made today in a transcript provided by the Bills.
“We were so dependent on (Manning) and what he did. The whole offensive structure was built upon what he could do and how he did it. The way his injury took place, there was always kind of the thought that, ‘Well, he could come back, he might come back, maybe the recovery time is going to be X.’ So we found ourselves kind of holding out hope, ‘Well, let’s not change everything because there’s a chance he’s going to come back and when he comes back then we’re going to run it this way.’ Unfortunately, he never did come back. So we got stuck with kind of trying to change in midstream and put some things together, and the people we had trying to do some of the things that Peyton did, even then we cut it down, but obviously they’re not Peyton Manning."

Obviously, they should have realized that without Manning -- even for an unspecified time -- they needed to change everything. Doing so might have allowed them a better chance to win.

Not doing so meant the end for Bill Polian, Chris Polian, Jim Caldwell and most of his staff including Metzelaars.

But it also means the franchise is going to get Andrew Luck.

A quick round of catch up ...

January, 25, 2012
A quick zip around the division to catch up on some things that have happened while I had a few days off.

The trio of coaches charged with shaping Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville is in place: coach Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and quarterback coach Greg Olsen. Olsen comes to the Jaguars from the Buccaneers where he worked with Josh Freeman, who regressed badly last season. Everyone’s got a clean slate now, and these coaches will be judged largely on what they are able to make of Gabbert in his second season.

The Colts' list of candidates to be the new head coach is not going to excite the general population. There seems to be a lot of buzz about Jim Tressel, and it appears he’s met with the team twice, but we don’t know who else has and it may be a mistake to label him the front-runner. It’s funny: When the team brought him aboard as a meager replay consultant, we tried to find a connection and label him as a Bill Polian guy, a Chris Polian guy or a Jim Caldwell guy. Whether he’s the next coach or not, it turns out he was a Jim Irsay guy.

Dave McGinnis has been a valuable member of the Titans' coaching staff for years. He’s left to re-join Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. While Mike Munchak will miss McGinnis as a sounding board, the addition of Keith Millard as a pass-rushing coach looks like a smart one. The Titans have not traditionally rushed the passer well from beyond the defensive line. The league is specializing, and having a coach who goes beyond positions to teach a set of skills is a fresh approach in Tennessee.

Texans center Chris Myers, Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith and Jaguars special-teamer Montell Owens were added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster. Wade Phillips was named assistant coach of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America and Pro Football Weekly. Congrats to all.

One of the few compelling reasons to stick with Jim Caldwell was to keep familiar people in place for Peyton Manning.

So, as the Colts announce that Caldwell is out as coach of the Colts, the question right on the heels of who’s next is: What does it mean for Manning?

His $28 million bonus is due in early March, and there is no getting around it: The Colts have to either pay it to keep him under contract or let him go before it’s due to avoid it.

Owner Jim Irsay has said that if Manning is healthy and playing in the NFL, he’ll be doing so with the Colts.

But since then, Irsay has fired vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian and hired general manager Ryan Grigson.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Grigson and the Colts pass on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Do they want a $28 million charge and Manning, coming off a third neck surgery in a short span, to be there with Luck?

Grigson will now be hiring a new coach who will be hiring a new coordinator (and presumably a quarterbacks coach) to work with the team’s signal-callers.

The Colts will remain at the forefront of NFL off-the-field news until we see that coach contribute to a decision on Manning.

RTC: Chris Polian talks

January, 14, 2012
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

J.J. Watt works tirelessly, but he starts out with a lot of natural talent, says Jeffrey Martin of the Houston Chronicle.

Says Jerome Solomon of the Chronicle: “Wade Phillips has been fired from three head coaching jobs -- in the East (Buffalo), the West (Denver) and the South (Dallas) -- but you can’t tell him that he isn’t a good head coach. Yet so many believe that is the case. They are wrong.”

The best the Texans have done against the Ravens in the past won’t be good enough Sunday, says John McClain of the Chronicle.

Indianapolis Colts

Rich Nye of WTHR caught up to Chris Polian who said “a lot of things were not reported truthfully” over the Colts bad season that led to he and Bill Polian being fired. He wished the franchise the best moving forward. (Hat tip to Colts Authority.)

Brett Mock of Colts Authority looks at contracts and salary cap implications for the team heading into 2012.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mel Tucker’s disappointment over not getting the top job didn’t linger, and he will be part of Mike Mularkey’s staff, says Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. Joe Cullen and Mark Duffner will also return.

Writes Gene Frenette of the Times-Union: (Shahid) Khan, in both an attempt at humor and to be complimentary of season-ticket holders, did say: "For me, a fan is somebody who's a season-ticket holder for the Jaguars." Many took it as a slap against fans who don't own season tickets, which is a ridiculous notion since Khan obviously wants to market his product to folks that are on the fence or ambivalent about spending money on tickets.”

Tennessee Titans

Kevin Carter played for the Rams that beat the Titans in the Super Bowl, then changed sides. He thinks Jeff Fisher’s a great hire for St. Louis, say Jim Wyatt and John Glennon of The Tennessean.

The Titans have offered their open secondary coach job to Brett Moxie, but the Cowboys would like to keep him, says Wyatt.

Tennessee re-signed tight end Craig Stevens, says Wyatt. He’s a valuable piece who was heading for free agency.
It may be a while before we know if Jim Caldwell will remain in place as the Indianapolis Colts coach.

If he does, he will have a new special teams coach. The team announced it will not renew the contract of Ray Rychleski.

“I felt we needed to make a change and head in a new direction,” Caldwell said in a statement released by the team. “Although the special teams unit made some improvement as the season progressed, it was not enough to continue our current situation. We appreciate Ray’s service and hard work during his three seasons with the team.”

When Caldwell took over the top job following Tony Dungy’s departure in 2009, the new coach made two significant hires. Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer was fired late in the season and now Rychleski will also be replaced.

Jim Irsay spoke highly of Caldwell in his Monday news conference discussing the firing of vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian. While Caldwell remains with the team, a new general manager will likely have a hand in determining the coach’s fate. That’s an awkward situation and most incoming executives given full powers prefer to hire their own coach.

In that news conference, Irsay praised Caldwell for his accountability and said he had admitted Coyer was a poor fit to run the Colts' scheme and it amounted to a mistake.

It does not say a lot for Caldwell that both the coaching hires that qualifies as his guys are no longer on the staff.

Bill Polian de-emphasized special teams and it's an area that a new regime should pay more attention to.

Colts regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
» NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 32
Preseason Power Ranking: 9

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesWithout Peyton Manning the Colts went from playoff contender to the worst team in the NFL.
Biggest surprise: Even without rehabilitating Peyton Manning (neck), few figured the the Colts could go 0-13 and wind up 2-14 with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. We can’t say how much better these Colts could have been with their four-time NFL MVP in the huddle, but he clearly masked a lot more issues than many knew. The offense tried to be more run-based but didn’t make it work well enough. Typically allergic to fullbacks, they used three different ones but ran worse with a fullback on the field than without one. The secondary was poorly constructed and couldn’t endure injuries and it became clear how bad a fit Jim Caldwell’s hand-picked coordinator, Larry Coyer, had become for the Cover 2 scheme the Colts like to run.

Biggest disappointment: Quarterback play was awful. Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky were terrible as the alternatives to Manning at quarterback. They combined to average 6.04 yards per attempt with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while absorbing 35 sacks. A lot of the good numbers were compiled late in blowouts. The Colts' 26.9 combined QBR was better than only the Jaguars and Rams. The team tied an NFL record by going eight full games without ever holding a lead.

Biggest need: The Colts need help at all sorts of positions, starting in the secondary. Before team vice chairman Bill Polian was dismissed he was saying the team needed an infusion of youth that could contribute to converting third downs on offense and stopping them on defense. But until a new general manager is in place and we know the coaching staff and scheme, we won’t know which veterans they should aim to keep and which ones they should let go. So new leadership at the management level is the top need following the dismissal of Polian and GM Chris Polian. From there, a verdict on Manning’s health and future and a decision on whether to keep the No. 1 pick and what to do with it will hang over the franchise.

Team MVP: Pat Angerer slid to middle linebacker from the strong side after Gary Brackett suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the season opener in Houston. Angerer proved to be a tackling machine who consistently shed blockers and covered ground despite the fact that the defensive line in front of him and the secondary behind him often didn’t play reliably enough. He made a team-high 148 tackles. Brackett now appears dispensable.

System status: For the Polian-Manning era the Colts built a Manning-centric, fast-moving, no-huddle offense that caught defenses in bad personnel groups and regularly scored in the final two minutes of the first half of the game. It was paired with a bend-don’t-break Cover 2 defense that aimed to limit big plays and produce situations that allowed a duo of premier pass-rushers to tee off on quarterbacks who had to drop back. With regime change coming, will system change come too? The odds seem low that Bill Polian’s successor will put a similar premium on smaller, speedier defenders.

RTC: Colts fire Polians edition

January, 3, 2012
Niceness isn’t a quality that goes at the top of most NFL coaching or executive résumés. At times, it’s looked on as a bad quality.

But boil down why Bill Polian is out of work and Jim Caldwell isn’t, yet, and the fact that one was perceived as a tyrant and the other is often described as honorable is certainly a factor.

The perception is Caldwell maintained the respect of the locker room through a miserable 2-14 season and Polian did not. At any rate, Caldwell could join Polian as a former Colt soon enough, but there is a big message in the way Jim Irsay has gone about this.

Another important note here: As Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star points out, Irsay did not mention Chris Polian once in his Monday news conference.

Onward, we’re reading the coverage of the “Polians fired” story.

Kravitz: “In the end, wins and losses and draft grades didn't do in Bill Polian. Bill Polian did in Bill Polian. He just became too difficult, too divisive, too dismissive of anybody and everybody who didn't share his NFL world-view. Too often, he became a sideshow and an embarrassment, whether it was screaming at Jay Mohr on the radio or railing about 'rats who spread lies.'

“This franchise needed new eyes. It needed a new direction, a new culture, a new everything. These are weird and exciting times for the Indianapolis Colts and this city, fraught with promise and uncertainty.”

Mike Freeman of “... (As) great as he was building winners he was equally skilled at constructing walls within his own organization. He ran his teams with an iron hand and was an unrepentant bully both to people who worked for him and the press. When you look up the phrase scorched Earth in the dictionary there's a picture of Polian with a lit match and can of kerosene.

“That was, I'm told, partially the reason for Polian's dismissal, to change the culture of the Colts. Most importantly, however, Polian had lost the fast ball that made him so formidable. He failed to get a backup for Manning and the Colts had lost their depth. He allowed his son, Chris, to run the team when Chris never proved he deserved that kind of power."

Don Banks of “More than anything, Irsay seems to have decided the time was right for change in Indianapolis, and he wanted to use this season's new depths to chart a new course. The Polian era was wildly successful, but Irsay probably didn't like the chances of re-scaling those same heights under the man who had been atop the team's front office flow-chart since 1998.

“So now, Indianapolis heads in a new direction, with new leadership. Manning, for now, remains. But the impact of his neck injury continues to reverberate, and with it, Black Monday in the NFL has again proven its ability to shock and surprise us.”

K.C. Joyner of : "Even with the fortuitous bounce that is getting the No. 1 pick in an NFL draft with a once-in-a-generation quarterback prospect (Andrew Luck), the general consensus is that the Colts are in such bad shape personnel-wise that it could take years for the franchise to get back into playoff contention.

“The truth of the matter is that some of the Colts' personnel woes are overstated and the team is actually not that far away from returning to playoff-contender status.”

Nate Dunlevy of “Obviously, a new front office will mean dramatic changes for the Colts going forward. While there is only so much roster turnover that can be done in one offseason, there is a good chance that the Colts will be almost unrecognizable in 2012. This decision does not necessarily decide the fate of Peyton Manning, as ultimately that will be up to Jim Irsay. One has to question why any top-line front office talent would consent to joining the Colts unless given complete control of the roster, however. Refusal to give control over the Manning decision to a new hire will virtually guarantee the Colts a second level talent.

“This is a great day for local media, but there is very little chance the next regime will have anywhere near the success of the last one.”

The key element of Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay’s news conference to discuss the dismissal of Bill Polian and Chris Polian was this: The team's new general manager needs a vision for a direction back to greatness and that he needs to lead one organization that is pulling in the same direction with great unity.

I took that as meaning the team was not pulling in the same direction under the Polians, and that they did not welcome enough people into the loop for there to be the sort of unity Irsay covets.

Hiring a general manager could take weeks, and Irsay said he could start making inquiries and calls Monday night.

Things could pan out in a way that the new guy will have a say in the future of coach Jim Caldwell and his staff. Irsay said he anticipates it going that way, but stopped short of saying that’s definitely how it will unfold.

That’s potentially a long time flapping in the breeze for Caldwell and his assistants.

But Irsay spoke very flatteringly of Caldwell.

“He’s a very bright guy, he’s a great teacher," Irsay said. "He’s a very good personnel evaluator. He is greatly respected by the players. They know the integrity he has. You’re talking about one of the finest men I’ve ever known, bar none.”

Irsay likes that Caldwell takes responsibility and outlined that Caldwell has been accountable for errors he’s made. Larry Coyer wasn’t a Cover-2 guy, Caldwell admitted, and “that was a very big mistake that was made.” Game management and clock management troubles were also acknowledged by the head coach, who Irsay said has improved in those areas. The owner loves Caldwell’s consistency with players.

If a new GM comes in with a good degree of power, odds are he’ll want to hire his own coach and not want to inherit one.

Assistants will also be in a tough spot. As staffs are assembled elswhere, Colts coaches will be waiting on a verdict and missing out on other potential opportunities.

Those will be major storylines going forward.

A couple other interesting elements to the news conference:
  • Irsay expects to sit down with Peyton Manning in the next week or so to discuss his rehabilitation progress and health status.
  • He used the word “rebuilding,” which indicates new people will be given time and he doesn’t see a quick fix. It would also appear to allow for moving forward with a young quarterback, though he recently said if Manning is healthy and playing in 2012 it will be with the Colts.
  • He’d like to see the team’s media relations improve. Bill Polian was notoriously difficult, particularly with the Indianapolis press. Secrecy is important on many football matters, but can be overused, Irsay said. You have to be really good at media relations in a small market, he added.
  • While anything is possible, Irsay said he doesn’t see a strong likelihood of a big-name coach with a lot of power.
  • Dennis Polian will remain in his current capacity as director of football administration. When a new GM is in place, he will evaluate whole personnel department including the remaining Polian.

Call on Polians about the future

January, 2, 2012
There are two ways to look at Bill and Chris Polian as we learn that Jim Irsay is parting ways with the Colts' vice chairman and general manager.
    [+] EnlargeBill Polian
    AP Photo/Michael ConroyVice chairman Bill Polian, left, and GM Chris Polian will not return to the Indianapolis Colts next season.

  1. They suffered for one terrible season that was largely about the absence of one player, their Hall of Fame quarterback.
  2. The stitching was coming apart on their team and it was time to make a change.

Irsay apparently lines up more with the latter thinking than the former, and will now restart his franchise with a new management team and the No. 1 draft pick. Coach Jim Caldwell’s fate remains undetermined, but it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be part of such a large sweep.

Bill Polian is a fine football architect. He’s a smart man, who knows he’s a smart man and who tends to talk down to people he doesn’t respect or doesn't believe are as smart. Those qualities could make him somewhat of a tyrant -- especially to some branches of the media, but not to them exclusively -- which is hardly the worst thing you can say about a football executive.

Still, as the season frayed, Polian flailed in defending some moves rather than admitting errors. If a couple of decent showings by Curtis Painter vindicated the franchise’s belief in him, then why exactly did said franchise run out to sign Kerry Collins? Couldn't he find someone more deserving of arrows on his weekly radio show than high-quality punter Pat McAfee?

There were more rifts in the franchise and less unity. A bigger split between the front office and the coaches. An incredibly awkward, low-power spot for Caldwell with regard to speaking for the team. The Polians' circle was a smaller and smaller one.

All that combined to give the organization a little bit of Al Davis Raiders flavor -- super secrecy, odd decisions and revelations, insistence on the rationale being used being unquestionable. Maybe you could make the case for borderline dysfunction once you added the nepotism issue.

Watching Bill Polian throw post-practice passes to a grandson was as good a snapshot memory as I have of training camp 2011. I don’t know Chris Polian well. He seemed like a fine guy when I spent time with him at training camp. But the younger Polian brings questions about just how equipped he is to run a franchise beyond having been brought up under a father who was very good at it.

If Bill Polian decides to retire, what sort of job will Chris Polian land? Some have told me he'd be a candidate to be a scout, not a GM.

I suspect his next post won’t be especially high-ranking, unless Bill Polian is tied in at least as a consultant.

So here is the end. It was an impressive era. While some fans might be relieved, it should qualify as a sad day.

Beyond Jerome Bettis and Tony Dungy, beyond Ernie Accorsi and Ron Wolf, not a lot of people in the league go out on their terms.

Jeff Fisher’s long stint as coach in Tennessee came to an awkward ending last year. It had just run its course and both sides decided a divorce was in order.

This would appear more one-sided -- but it feels the same in a lot of ways. It's been judged to be time for a fresh start. With a decision on Peyton Manning and the first pick and a bunch of aging veterans ahead, it might be the right time for it.

The Colts have a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m. ET. We’ll find out more then.