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Polian keeps downplaying the concept of playoff momentum

Colts president Bill Polian has been on a mission lately.  His goal?  To make the case for resting starters after the Colts lock up home-field advantage for the playoffs, even if it means blowing a shot at a 16-0 season.

Polian has again explained his position, in a visit with NFL Network.

“I don’t know how you get rusty when you practice four times a week.  It’s pretty hard to be rusty in that situation,” Polian said.  “Secondly, momentum is an overrated situation.  We didn’t have a lot of
momentum going into the playoffs the year we won the Super Bowl.”

And that’s where the flaw arises in Polian’s argument.

The Colts had no momentum after the 2006 season ended.  Despite a 12-4 regular-season record, it widely was believed that the Colts would be steamrolled in the playoffs, given their inability to stop the run.

But they acquired momentum via the wild-card round, during which they manhandled a Chiefs team that many believed would ride Larry Johnson to a road win.  Then, the Colts went to Baltimore and used the momentum flowing from the win over the Chiefs to knock of the Ravens.

Of course, it’s not as if the Ravens had coasted down the stretch.  They needed a Week 17 win over the Bills to lock up a first-round bye.  But that perceived blessing might have been a curse, given that the rested Ravens’ reward was a game against a revved-up Colts team.

Though it’s still better to have a bye week, despite the fact that AFC teams that earned a bye are 3-5 in the divisional round over the past four years, an extended stretch of practices without meaningful game action puts a team at a distinct disadvantage when facing a team with soaring confidence and a fully-sharpened saw.

So the presence of the bye week should make the elite teams even more inclined to keep pushing through to the finish line.  It’s one thing to rest starters for two quarters of the third preseason game and most of the last one; every team does that.  When a team that has had tremendous success by going all out during each week of the regular season suddenly assumes a preseason posture at a time when future playoff opponents are still scratching and clawing and doing everything in their power to play for another week, the stage is set for a fall.

The fact that Polian doesn’t see that despite his own team’s experiences over the past several years should be deeply troubling to every Colts fan. 

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14 Responses to “Polian keeps downplaying the concept of playoff momentum”
  1. pacstud says: Dec 9, 2009 10:13 AM

    Wow. The ego.
    “The fact that Polian doesn’t see that despite his own team’s experiences over the past several years should be deeply troubling to every Colts fan. ”
    Polian is a Super Bowl winner and considered one of, if not THE, top executives in the game.
    Yet Florio knows better.
    Wow, just Wow!
    btw, what’s the prediction on Green Bay beating the Packers this week Mike? Better stick to chasing ambulances.

  2. magsdad1 says: Dec 9, 2009 10:15 AM

    Dear Bill,
    Its time to sit Peyton Manning. He looks really tired.
    Sincerely,
    The Denver Broncos

  3. cleanface says: Dec 9, 2009 10:16 AM

    And you know this from your extensive coaching and personnel experience? Oh wait, you don’t have any of that.

  4. 4ever19 says: Dec 9, 2009 10:18 AM

    This Colts fan is deeply troubled by Polian’s opinions on momentum. PFT got it exactly right – in 2006, my guys had to keep playing right down to the wire, built some momentum in dominating the Chiefs and kept it up right through to the end of SB 41. That Polian refuses to see that, or acknowledge that he does, really makes me worry about the upcoming playoffs. But since Bill doesn’t listen to me, I guess that doesn’t matter.

  5. PETTE says: Dec 9, 2009 10:33 AM

    This is a joke peyton doesnt even get touched let the boys go full throtell for 16 jesus games that they get paid for we all know peyton wants to go for 16-0 and wants nothing to do with benching anybody lets GO BOYS

  6. CT Pats Fan says: Dec 9, 2009 10:47 AM

    I don’t really think the week off is the potential problem for the Colts, it’s the 3 weeks of part time play that will lead up to it.
    The Colts will have home field locked up (most likely) this week, and have no intention of gunning for 16-0.
    THAT pattern, it seems, has done the Colts in, in past years, not the week off. IMHO.

  7. Ed says: Dec 9, 2009 10:57 AM

    Florio -
    A few things to remember when it comes to Bill Polian’s position:
    1. Cornelius Bennett. Regular season game after playoff position (homefield) was established.
    Career-ending injury under Bill Polian’s watch.
    Polian has vowed this will never happen again.
    2. Imagine same sceniro happening to Peyton Manning. Bill Polian would have to shoot himself.
    Colts don’t have to have momentum. They just need the desire to win the Superbowl. There is no hardware given for a ‘perfect’ regular season.

  8. capitala23 says: Dec 9, 2009 11:18 AM

    Looking at the Colts history with benching the starters the last few games and having the 1st week off of the playoffs hurts them. I was excited the year they didnt have that first round bye because I figured they would keep rolling through the playoffs into the SB, and they did. There is always the risk of injury, and thats why they sit them, but thats the game. You play the risks to give your team the best chance of winning it all. Yeah if Peyton goes down thats it for them, but I think his starting record shows he is a tough dude.
    Polian, let them play! If you are worried about injury, then run the score up in the first half and sit them the second half. It will keep the offense running well at least.

  9. lebowski says: Dec 9, 2009 11:35 AM

    Last game of the season could be in poor weather conditions outdoors in Buffalo. It would be tough to see Freeney or Manning or Addai twist a knee in wet, snowy sod just to keep momentum flowing. They’ll be playing in their home confines throughout the playoffs.

  10. Tyler says: Dec 9, 2009 11:45 AM

    The Colts only lost once because of resting starters. In 2005, when the idiot Dungy only gave Peyton 3 snaps in week 17. It took maybe until the 4th or 5th possession against the Steelers, to get something going. Caldwell is not that stupid.

  11. The Hoff says: Dec 9, 2009 11:47 AM

    I am a Colts fan, and I hope Peyton and crew play at least half of the week 17 game.

  12. case31 says: Dec 9, 2009 12:10 PM

    It’s not like the Colts steamrolled any those teams (KC, Baltimore, NE). Peyton threw something like 7 picks total in those three games. Up until the second half of the NE game (when the offense finally got going), they only scored 16 (KC), 15 (Bal), and 6 (NE first half).
    The defense played the last part of the regular season like they were on a bye, then turned it on in the playoffs. So maybe Bill is right.

  13. slipkid says: Dec 9, 2009 2:38 PM

    it’s momentum, or really a lack thereof… compared to other teams.
    battle readiness.
    and… film at eleven… bill polian throws florio up agin a refrigerator…

  14. Mark0226 says: Dec 9, 2009 3:24 PM

    This makes for a great story, and the Colts past experience would tend to validate this theory; however, what you’re missing is cause and effect. Please describe what specific mental or physical conditions improve their chances winning if they maintain momentum.
    Is it confidence? You think a team that has gone 12-0 or 13-0 and then lost a few with 2nd and 3rd stringers doesn’t have confidence? Maybe it’s staying in sync? Again, a team that has won 12 or 13 games is not in sync with one another? Or will lose that if they sit a week or two of game action? They are still practicing their timing and staying in sync in practice. Are they somehow more agile or stronger and faster after playing these games? What exactly is it that makes a professional athlete play better with momentum than with rest?
    Seems during the year, when teams are banged up, the bye week is a blessing to get much needed rest. How does this concept not apply to the end of the season? Why is two weeks rest not better than one week rest? Please explain how reducing wear and tear and pounding on the body and brain, not a good thing. It defies logic to me.
    Even during a game, the announcers always talk about momentum swings, but the ‘momentum’ seems to swing frequently. If momentum were so important, then it would never swing. How can a team on the wrong side of momentum ever win if momentum were so important in a win? Once a team gains momentum, they should be able to ride it to victory, but the other team has professional athletes with skills and mental toughness to create momentum of their own and they find a way to sustain a drive and score and maybe even win. Again, how does this not apply to the playoffs?
    Perhaps the past experiences are not a cause and effect, as you are trying to persuade everyone to believe, but the playoffs are typically filled with good or even elite teams. Some teams just match up better against others. The Colts lose to the Chargers because they Chargers match up well against the Colts, not because the Colts didn’t have ‘momentum’. The Colts finally figured out what was needed to beat the Patriots and have done so I think 6 out of the last 7 times they have met. This was because of practicing and game planning, not because the Colts created momentum by beating the Chiefs and Ravens.
    Cause and effect. Practice, preparation, and execution, not momentum.

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