Polian on Manning-Brady, Pats future

Polian on Manning-Brady, Pats future
February 2, 2014, 1:00 pm
Share This Post

NEW YORK – Bill Polian was a little like a front office Rodney Harrison.
The former Colts president who built the 1990s Bills, the expansion Panthers and the Peyton Manning-era Colts was the kind of competitor you loved if you were on the same side, loathed if he was representing someone else’s interests.
Now an analyst for ESPN, Polian is an NFL oracle. I sat with him for a long time Friday night and here are a few of the observations he shared.
“There’s so many parallels between (Peyton Manning) and (Tom) Brady it’s eerie. They are once-in-a-generation kind of players. They’re not gonna come along again for another generation. Russell (Wilson) is a different kind of player; RG3’s a different kind of player, Andrew (Luck) is probably close to (Manning and Brady) but he’s a different generation and there’ll be another generation before somebody like that comes along again.
“They are, for our football lifetimes, once in a lifetime. I think that they both are at the stage where, as a defense, you really can’t beat them unless they can’t be protected. The defense may get beat, but it ain’t because they don’t perform. Games between Brady and Manning aren’t between those two. They’ll both play great. They always do. You know what you’re gonna get. This is Whitey Ford against Curt Schilling.”
“Well, I’m not neutral. You’re for your guy just like Bill would be for his. But when I step back and take my heart out of it, how can you choose between the two? They’re the two greatest quarterbacks of a generation. They’re both first ballot, Hall of Famers. What the hell more do you want?”

“I’ve had very little exposure to Tom but I happened to run into him at Pebble Beach. He was out there playing with his dad and I was playing with Jim Harbaugh and he was in the foursome in front of us. He had come over to say hello and we shook hands. And we had drafted the kid from TCU (Jerry Hughes in 2010) and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Whadja draft that defensive end for?’ I said, ‘To chase you!’ The draft had been like three weeks earlier. Those guys are on every single detail.”
“I did three Patriots games during the season. They do the best coaching job in the league year in and year out. Two of those games, the turning points were on special teams. Against Miami, they blocked a field goal (Chandler Jones with 2:51 left in a 27-17 win) that would have brought Miami back in the game. Then against Pittsburgh, they had the Steelers backed up and they go 10-up (on the line of scrimmage). And they set up a punt return for Julian Edelman and set up a touchdown (that made it 34-24 early in the fourth). They’re the best-coached team in football week-to-week. You have to say that whether you’re a Colts fan or whatever you are. I think they went so much further than they should have given the injuries, the age, perhaps not the production in the pass rush that they typically would have. You knew they were gonna get there because they’re the Patriots but I didn’t think they could go all the way.”
“I don’t know their personnel well enough to know if their personnel is gonna ascend. Danny Amendola never really got there. Now, free agents often take a year to ascend, but he and (Julian) Edelman are basically the same guy. What are they gonna do at tight end? Can Gronk come back? Will he remain injury prone? They do not have a receiving tight end, which is a big part of what they do. And that makes up for deficiencies on the offensive line. They’ll do something there. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a wide receiver, could be a tight end. Offensively, on the line, they went from a zone team to a team that now runs power, they now run counter. I can see Bill transitioning away from complete reliance on Tom to a more balanced attack. That might dictated by the receivers too but they clearly have made the running game much, much better. Now the change in offensive line coaches, it will be different. The offensive line for the last 20 years has been coached by Dante (Scarnecchia). That’s a big difference they’ll be dealing with.”