There have been several debates over the legacy of the Polian regime. Many have sited the past success with other teams along with the current success the Colts have had under the Polians as a barometer to determine how well (Or not well) they did their job. For me personally, I feel that Polian did his best work as a GM when he was with the Carolina Panthers. I say that because when I look at the teams he helped build, from Buffalo to Indy the most balanced team of all three was the Panthers. They were solid on both sides of the ball. Buffalo was an offensive juggernaut. Much like the Bills, the Colts were also a high-powered offensive team. The Bills went to 4 SBs during his tenure there but lost all of them. The Colts went to 2 and won one. The common thread between both of these franchises is that they both never achieved the success they could have because neither had a defense that could win games for them.
Getting to the SB is no accomplishment if you don't leave winning it's most prized possession: "A ring." Going to a SB and losing it is like going to Disney Land and watching everyone else enjoy the rides. That's pretty much what the Bills did for their 4 SB appearances. They were fun to watch on offense, but when it came down to the games played on the biggest stage they always came up short. Ditto for the Colts. The Bills and the Colts both had 1st ballot HOFers at the QB position. What hurt Polian's success was his dependence solely upon those QBs. People have been debating on whether or not Bill Polian was a good GM for the Colts and I want to put to rest the answer to that question. The answer is no. This is a topic that can not and should not be answered with wins and losses. It's not a topic that should be answered by what they "have done." That topic should be answered by what they "should have done." Peyton Manning is heavily considered by many as one of the all-time greats to ever play at his position. That being said, he suffered from the same shortcomings that Barry Sanders suffered from: "A front office that was more content with ticket sales than post season production."
That contentment from the front office kept them from taking the initiative to put the necessary pieces in place to help the players who were the faces of their franchises become multiple SB championship winners. In Manning's case, I take deeper issue with this because of what happened last year. I remember all the years watching the Colts be kings of the regular season, only to flame out by being man handled in the playoffs by teams like the Pats, Steelers, and Chargers. Back then I thought the Colts needed to get bigger, tougher, and nastier on both sides of the ball in order to take some of onus of winning games off of Manning's shoulders. I even had the opportunity to speak with Polian on the air once when he was a guest on Bob Lamey's show after the Colts had gotten beaten by the Pats for a second straight year in the playoffs. Needless to say he never took the team in that direction and continued to depend on Manning being "Superman" on Sundays. It goes without saying that formula only took us so far. Yes we did win a SB and yes we appeared in another one.
What I look at in spite of that is how many SBs we could have had if the former regime had taken the approach that the current regime is doing now. More importantly, I look at the debacle that happened last year when the team had to play without Manning for the whole season. In 2010 the Steelers had to play the 1st 4 games of the season without Ben Roethlesberger because he was suspended. They went undefeated without their starting QB. The fact that the Colts went 2-14 is a testament to how much Manning's abilities covered up how awful the Colts really were as a team. I'll say it again as I've said in my previous posts. Now is the time to be as excited in being a Colts fan as we have ever been.
With Andrew Luck, while most fans and critics keep comparing him to Manning, for me the QB he reminds me of the most is Steve Young. He has the same pocket awareness, athletic escapability, and accuracy that Young displayed during his career running some of the most high-powered, offensive attacks with the 49ers. I don't like to compare him to Manning because not only is he more athletic, but he also throws a better ball. His passes don't wobble and come out with good velocity and straight spiral. He has incredible touch for such a young QB it's hard to remember he is after all, a rookie. Andrew Luck was made to be a QB the way Barry Sanders was made to be a RB. I believe he will be on that kind of level when it's all said and done and that day will be a lot sooner than what many think. The best part about all of this? Luck will be on a "team" that will help shoulder the responsibility of winning so he won't have to do it alone.