INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian left the organization after the 2011 season and just months before the franchise selected Peyton Manning’s replacement at quarterback, Andrew Luck.
But Polian, who is currently an ESPN NFL analyst, has watched as Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons and become one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
“It all starts with Andrew and clearly he’s the best of the young quarterbacks that have come into the league in terms of everything he can do and he has a chance to be one of the greats before it’s all said and done,” Polian said. “They’re extremely fortunate to have him. And when you do, you’re automatically a contender when you have a quarterback of that magnitude.”
Polian has concerns about Indianapolis’ defense. The Patriots have rushed for 657 yards against them in the past three meetings and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Dallas’ Tony Romo picked them apart in victories last season. The Colts finished 11th in the league in total defense and 18th in the league in run defense last season.
“Can they play adequate enough defense to be able to really be a challenger? Obviously what we saw last year in the (AFC) championship game is not good enough and they were soundly beaten by the Patriots twice,” Polian said. “So that’s a hurdle they’re going to have to overcome, but it’s going to have to be on defense.”
Polian, unlike some, praised the additions of running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson, who both are over the age of 30, because they’re not only talented, but they’re also veterans the Colts could use inside the locker room.
“They’re battle-tested guys who really have terrific character,” Polian said. “To have a relationship with (coach) Chuck Pagano, Andre and Frank Gore, they’re the type of people that everybody else on the team can rally around. They haven’t had guys like that, I think, and especially didn’t last year without Robert Mathis.
“Those are terrific additions, but they’re obviously not long-term additions. The question is: Even if they can reach the heights this year, which they’re certainly capable of doing if they play good defense, how do you sustain it? But this year, they’re as good as anybody, that’s for sure.”