Colts Q&A: Colts President Bill Polian

ColtPower's Todd Taylor spoke to Colts President Bill Polian this week about topics such as how he built the Colts, the current state of the offensive line, the need for a kickoff specialist position, and his thoughts on the AFC playoff contenders.

Q:  When you came to the Colts there was a lot of work to be done.  Draft wise, you started with an offensive philosophy.  Was it by design you would draft offense first and then shift to the defense, or did Tony Dungy's arrival expedite that process?

A. We decided once we drafted Peyton that we had to put some firepower around him.  It would have been useless to draft him and not give him any weapons.  All we really had here was Marvin (Harrison) and Marcus (Pollard).  Then we traded Marshall Faulk and had to replace him, so our focus once we had Peyton in place was to get the offense up and running as quickly as we could and then turn our attention to defense.  It (the shift to defensive drafting) sort of coincided with Tony's arrival but that wasn't really the impetus behind it.  It was really just the fact we had to get Peyton on board first.

Q:  When Tony came in, did the types of players you looked at in the draft change?

A:  Oh yeah, most definitely.  We had a much broader group of players to choose from because of Tony's willingness and actually eagerness to play young players.  The requirements that are necessary to play this defense are really athleticism and speed so that gave us a lot more people from which to choose.

Q: Regarding the loss on Sunday, nobody ever wants to lose, but what good, if any, do you see coming out of that loss?

A: For one thing it points out some things you need to do better – pass protection, better execution defensively in some areas and better up heads up thinking in some areas defensively.  It also takes the public issue out of play in the sense that we're all banged up now and there are going to be 9 or 10 guys who will not play against Seattle who wouldn't have played anyway had we won the game, because of injuries.  That would have caused attention in the media, so it removes that issue from the table which is a good thing.

Q:  Depth wise, how do you think the offensive line can hold up after losing a player like Ryan Diem?

A:  We'll be fine, Jake Scott will go out there and Dylan Gandy will play right guard.  Matt Ulrich will back up at guard and center and Kurt Vollers will back up at tackle and we'll be fine.

Q:  In regards to fans questioning of the use of a roster spot for a kickoff specialist…

A:  Depth of kickoffs is something we feel is very important and I understand that there are columnists in this town that don't think it's important and that's their prerogative.  The bottom line is Tony and I think it's important so we're going to carry that position and Dave (Rayner), hopefully, will be back on the practice squad and we think he has a very bright future here.

Q:  Is the presence of a kickoff specialist due to the fact Vanderjagt doesn't kickoff deep enough or to rest his leg?

A:  Vanderjagt does not kick off well enough.  Secondly, if he were to do both jobs he would become injured as he did last year. And so we determined, because we kickoff very nearly 100 times in the regular season and playoffs alone much less preseason, that it was important to carry a kickoff guy who could drive the ball very deeply.  Dave did a fine job of that for about the first ten games and now he's tailed off markedly and the reason is obvious -- it's because he's tired and he knows that and told us that, and we realize it too.  He's lost the pop in his leg, it's like a baseball pitcher getting a tired arm -- you've got to shut him down.  Cortez will come in and pick up that job and do a fine job of it and all we ask of Mike is that he kick extra points and field goals.

Q:  With the AFC being such a strong conference, are there certain teams you feel present a tougher match-up for the Colts?

No. I think every team that qualifies for the playoffs, and probably a couple that don't, provide an equally challenging match-up.  As we stand here today, San Diego and Kansas City would not make it and I bet you they might win a division in the NFC.  It's just too bad, but that's the way it has been for about the past four years and that's the way it's going to continue to be, it seems like, for a while.  I would think anybody who makes the playoffs in the AFC is capable of going all the way.


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