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Balance Has a Place in Today's Game

I'm guessing that many of you are now familiar with Bill Polian's comments about fans' overuse of stats. If not you can read about it here. The quick run-down of the event is this. A question was asked during a radio interview about the Colts' lack of a solid running game and how the Colts' new offensive linemen they added in the draft would help the situation. Most people in a teams' personnel department would shrug the question off with a standard a answer about hard word, etc. Bill Polian, however, took the less traveled road. He attacked statistics head on.

I think Bill Polian is one of the most under appreciated GMs in football. While Ryan Leaf would have been a great pick for the Colts, they instead drafted Peyton Manning. The decision was made especially difficult by the fact that Manning was projected to go first overall. It seemed too easy for the Colts to take Manning with the 1st pick, but they stuck by their decision, and it was, no doubt, one of the hardest choices a GM has ever made.

Now that my sarcasm is out of my system, we can continue.

In the interview with 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis, Polian talked about the fact that the Colts had a top 5 offense despite a low ranking running game. He said the goal was to score points, and they didn't have to have a great running game to do so.

I have a problem with that.

The Colts are experts of winning until January. When they get to the playoffs, however, they've been mediocre at best. I've thought for years now that the Colts should have focused on building a dominant defense instead of adding firepower to their offense. With Manning's performance this past year, who can argue with that? The Colts had players dropping like flies in 2010, but their offense was still potent. I have to wonder, how many Super Bowls would Manning have if he played for the Steelers? I have to believe it would be more than one.

That brings me back to the running game. Balance does wonders for a team, especially in January. The problem the Colts run into in the playoffs is that they can't keep a defense off balance. That's fine when you're playing the Jaguars', Titans', and Texans' defenses, but playoff caliber teams often have very, very good defenses. When the Jets decided they were going to slow the Colts' passing attack down, the Colts didn't have an answer. In that playoff game, Manning threw for just 225 yards and 1 touchdown, and they totaled a meagre 93 yards on the ground. It doesn't take an expert to realize that the Colts would have a hard time beating playoff teams with those numbers.

I know that Bill Polian likes to discredit average fans' thoughts, but maybe, just maybe he's wrong on this one. How can he be considered a great GM when one of the best QBs in NFL history has only 1 Super Bowl victory late in his career with Polian's team?