Irsay seeks unifier in Polian replacement

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
6:13
PM ET

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.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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