Polian surprised by reaction to pulling starters

When Colts president Bill Polian sat down on camera for his weekly appearance on NFL Network’s Around The League Tuesday, there was certainly no shortage of topics to discuss with host Rich Eisen.

Polian has found himself mired in a wave of public angst from Colts fans over the decision to pull Peyton Manning and several other starters in the 29-15 loss to the Jets, a loss which ended a run at a perfect season. Polian displayed genuine surprise at the reaction from fans, and was nearly apologetic while re-iterating on several occasions that a perfect regular season record was never the goal for the Colts — something he felt the organization has been very public with.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview, which you can also watch in the video in this post:

  • Polian said the plan was formulated during the week with a group that included owner James Irsay, among others: “The timing was entirely up to coach, it was his decision to make as to when we took the players out. And, by the way, it was Peyton; Reggie Wayne, who was battling a sore toe and sore groin; Dallas Clark, who had a thigh contusion, and I think that was all. Joseph Addai went out earlier in the game with an injury.”
  • Polian isn’t concerned about the psyche of the Colts moving forward: “Oh no, not at all. As a matter of fact, I’m very proud of them. What they’re upset about is losing the game, not the ability to play in the game. They wall wanted to win the game, because we want to win every game we play. When Jim Sorgi had to be placed on injured reserve with shoulder problems, it was evident to coach and myself that we had to be very careful with Peyton, because there was no one out there we could bring in who could handle the load of backup QB. Curtis Painter is a rookie, and we were in a situation where we had to be very careful with him. We felt like that was the prudent decision to make.
  • Polian is surprised by the fan reaction to the decision: “In truth I am, because I had thought we had made it very plain that 16-0 was not a goal for us. Apparently, I and others in the organization didn’t do as good a job of that as we should have. What we’ve said — it seems repeatedly, since Halloween almost — is that 16-0, we did not feel like was a historic achievement. What was important to us, and what we tried very hard to do on a short week against Jacksonville after we had wrapped-up the home field advantage was to set two records — one for the most consecutive regular season games won. We were tied with New England prior to that, and we now hold that record ourselves. And secondly, for the most games won in this decade. And I don’t believe that anybody can catch us now, no matter what happens this week. We felt those were extremely historical milestones that were worth going out there and risking everything for. Having achieved those two, which again are very important to us, not apparently to some of the media and some of the fans here in Indianapolis, but to us … we felt prudence, then, should dictate what we do from there on in. We’ve been very public, and very open with that. I’m a little surprised that people didn’t register that. But obviously we didn’t do a good enough job of making ourselves clear.”
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