Bill Polian Talks To Joe

February 23rd, 2015

bill polian 2

Last week, when Joe was trying to stay warm in frozen Indianapolis, and wasn’t killing two days waiting for Jameis Winston to talk, Joe discussed Bucs football with NFL movers and shakers at Lucas Oil Field, site of the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the final hours of the combine (for media types) Joe corralled soon-to-be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former NFL general manager Bill Polian. Now a fantastic analyst for SiriusXM NFL Radio and BSPN, Polian talked to Joe about Marcus Mariota becoming an NFL quarterback, Lovie Smith’s blueprint and how much the Bucs could improve this fall.

JoeBucsFan: The biggest drawback to Marcus Mariota is that he comes from a college spread offense and he has limited or no experience in a pro-style offense. There have been many examples of spread quarterbacks struggling in the NFL. Vince Young is an example of a guy who was wonderful in a spread option but it never translated consistently to a pro offense. Why is it so hard for spread quarterbacks to convert to NFL offenses?

Bill Polian: Well, first of all, there is a vast different between Vince Young and Marcus Mariota. Second of all, I think that the so-called spread option difficulties are very overrated. Marcus is a special young man. With all of that said, every quarterback struggles coming into the National Football League. Andrew Luck is to have perceived to succeed right away but if you look at the interception statistics, they are comparable to any other rookie quarterback. Russell [Wilson] has not reached his pinnacle yet throwing the ball. He has a great defense and a great running game with him. But he is perceived to have succeeded, and he has, but he is nowhere near where he is going to be throwing the ball. So my point is there is a growth curve, a learning curve, for every rookie quarterback who comes into the NFL. We expect far too much of them. Fans get spoiled because of all the hoopla that surrounds them. It is just a difficult transition. You don’t know for four years what they are going to be. So, why would you worry about Marcus Mariota transitioning to the National Football League? He is smart, he is athletic, he has a great arm, he is accurate, he is a leader, he is a charismatic leader as you heard from [Kyle] Long. People knocking him, and his former teammates coming to his defense, tells you a lot about him. So why would you worry about stuff like that? To me it makes no sense at all. The young man in Philadelphia, who comes out of the very same spread situation at the University of Arizona did fine, until he got hurt. Playing in that offense in the National Football League. Is there a learning curve? Sure. There is for every quarterback.

Joe: Does Lovie Smith, who had a 2-14 record last year, have a luxury of a learning curve?

Polian: You have to. You have to. Fans have to understand there is a learning curve. There is a building process. You don’t go from 2-14 to 14-2 just overnight. It doesn’t happen. We did here [in Indianapolis] only because we had Marshall Faulk. We had Marvin Harrison. We had Tarik Glenn and we had some veterans on defense and we put together a good season. But even at 13-3, we lost our first playoff game — in this building. We weren’t prepared – and Peyton wasn’t prepared – to take the team to where it ultimately went. For fans – and owners – it is a fact of life. You can’t change it.

Joe: Do the Bucs have enough pieces of the puzzle to, maybe, triple their wins and get to six wins?

Polian: What I would say is, two things about the Bucs. No. 1, Lovie has a blueprint. He has to follow that blueprint and the blueprint has proven that he can take a team to the Super Bowl. That is point No. 1. So when fans get frustrated, look to the history. Has it worked before? Yes, it has. So, they should be confident it will work again. Secondly, I know from having picked players for that defense for 10 years, that in many ways, players who have not played in that before, find it counterintuitive. It takes a while to trust the guy next to you, to learn to trust your reads, to learn to trust your techniques in your secondary, to make sure you reroute receivers in the correct way. So, they will be much better on defense – as Dallas was last year, which is the very same defense – they will be much better this coming year, I suspect, because the players will be much more comfortable and know what to expect and what is expected of them. They are used to Lovie in the way he is doing things. So, I would say those two things: One, Lovie’s blueprint works and two, they have had their learning curve on their defense and it will get better.

60 Responses to “Bill Polian Talks To Joe”

  1. Dan Says:

    Bill also said on ESPN that he expects the Bucs to take Mariota number one.

  2. biff barker Says:

    Great piece Joe. Always enjoy Poilans commentary.

    Seems to me that this is where Koetter comes in. Whomever we pick you still have to keep it simple and play to the skillset on hand.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    So….every QB needs some time….and Lovie will likely get the time…..the Glazers will not force Lovie into picking a win-now QB….they will let him know that he has the time to develop the offense.
    Fans don’t like what Lovie did last year….but I suspect their confidence has risen considerably with the hiring of Koetter & Bajakian along with the release of McCown.

    Polian’s answer to the Mariota question is reasonable….experienced and flys in the face of many anti-Mariota fans’ opinion.

  4. Pawel Says:

    But why can’t we believe that rookie QB can succeed in their first year, the cycle has to change one day, it can evolve where players get smarter in college learning pro style offense (Winston) because aren’t players already bigger and faster coming out of college? I mean Russel Wilson should of already had the 2nd superbowl win, he did enough to get to that point. You just can’t set a standard.

  5. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Thanks for the post on Bill Polian Joe-Best General Manager of All-Time

  6. JoeJoes Fungi Nails Says:

    So if you can read between the lines Polian is clearly favoring Mariota

  7. Joe Says:

    But why can’t we believe that rookie QB can succeed in their first year,

    Oh, you can believe it. Just like you can believe in the tooth fairy if you want.

    History is unwavering. Rarely do rookie quarterbacks fare well. Ones that do are very much the exception and very much stars. Manning and Big Ben spring to mind. That’s two, in what, 17 years?

    Yes, it can happen. So too can your house be hit by lightning. Or you could get bitten by a shark.

    Just like you could gamble on a sixth round pick making the Hall of Fame.

  8. Jack Says:

    Nice interview, Joe.

  9. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    A rookie QBs sucess is predicated on two things. A stout defense and decent run game both of which will suite WINSton just fine his first few seasons there in the Bay. Big Ben ,Brady,Wilson common denominator defensive head coaches. All you smart guys calling for Lovie head after one season please. His seat will be cold as ice for the next ten years after he draft this organizations savior in WINSton.

  10. Frank Says:

    Hey Joes, you guys are doing much better looking at both QBs. Well done!

  11. New#8or5 Says:

    I would take either one of these kids as long as we don’t have too see MG8 ever again.

  12. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Im curious to know how polian feels about WINSton being compared to his boy manning on the board,but for some peculiar reason he sees mariota as the better prospect. Headscratching,if it were solely I dont like becsuse of the off field stuff but he is an exceptional talent I would understand but to leave that out an sale me on a guy thats coming from a gimmick style ofense is somewhay mind boggling.

  13. MTM Says:

    Polian sounds like he a play it safe and draft the player with the best long term likelihood of succeeding. Winston may be great and never have an issue moving forward but with the amount of baggage, potential suspension looming and the NFL trying to turnaround their image.

    I wouldn’t want to be the GM in Tampa if the NFL has to discipline Winston down the road. It’s an easy decision to pick Winston #1 when it’s not your job on the line.

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Like Frank….

    I applaud Joe for starting to put positive Mariota articles. After all, he may be our pick.

    Not a chance according to 87….

    But even Joe would have to admit as he stated before…..Joe still doesn’t have a clue for certain what the decision will be

  15. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Per:Bill Polian

    “He has a great defense and a great running game with him”

    ……But he is perceived to have succeeded

  16. WS99 Says:

    Andrew Luck took the Colts from 2-14 to 11-5 his rookie season. Granted it doesn’t happen often and if you can get 7 wins from a rook thats awesome. Anything is possible with a great def and a strong running game.

  17. WhatTheBucIsWrongWithYou Says:

    Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. touched on it best. Polian has not commented once on these QBs without putting horns on Winston and a halo on Mariota. We all know Mariota is a great guy and says all the right things. So did Chris Weinke, Danny Weurffel, and Tim Tebow…don’t kid yourself, Mariota is twice the QB any of them were. But Winston is close to Manning and Luck than anyone to come out in 20 yrs…especially in footwork and x’s and o’s knowledge. IF you draft Luck and Manning, then you would want someone as similar to them as possible-ergo Winston.

  18. Iknowmorethanlovie Says:

    Lovie can’t survive another bag year. Easy to tell fans to be patient when the media doesn’t pay to watch this crap.

  19. ddneast Says:

    Well poster Joe, neither Manning succeeded in their first year and since Archie never had a god season, I’m wondering about what Manning you are referring to in their first year.
    Rothlesberger and Luck succeeded and that is about it. both had veteran teams they were stepping into.

  20. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    2004 Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben’s Rookie 15-1* Season)
    • Offensive Coordinator: Ken Whisenhunt
    • Offensive Scheme: Erhardt-Perkins ←Simplified terminology
    • 372 points (23.2/g), 11th of 32 in the NFL
    • League Rush Ranking: #1 Yards: 2464 *TD’s: 16

    Defensive Coordinator: Dick LeBeau
    • Allowed 251 points (15.7/g), 1st.
    • League Rush Defense Ranking: 1st
    • League Pass Defense Ranking: 4th
    • Sacks: 39.0

  21. tmaxcon Says:

    Winston is Lovie’s only option. Mr. Polian was quick to point out Lovies accidental super bowl birth. Then he mentions look at the History. History is very clear. Lovie is average to below average head coach who plays the game not to lose. You have to play the game to win. The new rules have changed the game and lovie has not changed. go back to the basement mr smith and take glennon with you.

  22. Robert 9 Says:

    if lovie has another losing season and the team regresses talent wise.(i.e. FA and/or this/last years draft picks flop) I think he is done.

    the loss in fan base is way more valuable than his salary. and they have already lost a lot.

    he has to “gain ground” as I say….show improvement and future potential

  23. tmaxcon Says:

    Robert 9

    I agree with you. I don’t think Lovie can change. I admire him for stinking to his principles that being said when the game changes the head coach must adjust and he has NOT adjusted to the new rules. His playing NOT to lose kills me. That is why the team blew close games and 4th qtr leads. Lovie must be more aggressive both offensively and defensively. I hope he sees the light but I am not convinced.

    I am tired of people bringing up super bowl and lovie in the same sentence. It was nearly 10 years ago and he LOST…. What did you do for me yesterday Mr. Smith you LOST!!!!

  24. J 2.0 Says:

    Neither Mariota nor Winston are worthy of the #1 overall pick. They’re middle of the pack players in this years draft. If Winston were drafted and put up Glennon’s numbers he would be anointed the next coming of Dan Marino. You take the best player in the draft. IF we can boost Winston’s stock, find a partner and trade back, and still draft Mariota, that would be amazing. Otherwise you draft the best player available. And that is not Winston.

  25. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Lets not forget

    *(2004) G.M. Bill Polian wanted to trade Peyton.

    Per: Bill Polian

    “We need to trade Peyton; we can get a bunch of defensive players and become like Tampa Bay or Baltimore.”

    Polian believed he could make a Herschel Walker-style offer.

  26. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Hmmm….Even Bill wanted to trade his QB for a boat load of draft picks. How asinine is that.

  27. tmaxcon Says:

    What’s really asinine is trading away the first pick when your team does not have a single NFL caliber QB on the current roster. Regardless of the 8 nut huggers; he is not a starting QB in the NFL we have seen enough of his lifeless play.

  28. Tampabaybucfan Says:


    Wow!!! We agree….time for a beer…..or two!!!

  29. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Pawel Says
    “But why can’t we believe that rookie QB can succeed in their first year…”

    It takes the right combination for a rookie QB to have a great season. Defense helps. Oline helps more. The strength of schedule makes a huge difference, and it takes time for teams to get tape on him, so the most wins should come at the beginning.

    A good OC, and good WRs. A good mentor.

    That’s why it is rare and will never become a regular thing. Success depends 80% on the team around him that first year, to give him confidence. After that, he needs to step up.

  30. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Robert 9 Says
    “if lovie has another losing season and the team regresses talent wise.(i.e. FA and/or this/last years draft picks flop) I think he is done.”

    Pay attention, people, this is how you post a comment. I don’t agree with it, but Robert did something most people don’t notice.

    How many times have we seen people say “If such and such doesn’t do this, he is gone!”?

    Plenty. Like those people have an actual say in things.

    Robert’s phrasing was top notch. “I think he is done.”

    He voiced an opinion.

    Believe me, Robert and I rarely get along, so me giving him props is a truly rare thing. Learn this from him.

  31. mikeh Says:

    although I would be happy with either QB. Winston makes me nervous not only for immaturity issues but I read on that peter king asked jw about if he were done with baseball and jw replied I can not answer that it is a dream of mine. now is that something the bucs are going to care about I would think so. it has been done wit bo. Jackson and deon sanders but is a team going to want to risk a face of the franchise and boat load of doe on that ? time will tell.

  32. Erik with Says:

    Everyone needs to get over Winston bcuz we are 100% drafting Mariota #1….. He is basically Lovie’s dream QB: great guy, super mobile, and can make all the throws. Winston isn’t coming here. It’s well documented that Lovie wants a mobile QB.

    87, just fyi, I want a Lg white new-style Mariota jersey and u can ship it to the address on my website. Thanks.

  33. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    tmaxcon Says
    “What’s really asinine is trading away the first pick when your team does not have a single NFL caliber QB on the current roster.”

    Shocking, but I agree with you on this, tmaxcon.

    The only reason to trade would be 3 first rounders, at least one second, AND a true starting quarterback capable of playing at least 5 more years. Doesn’t have to be elite, but a solid starter.

    The odds of that happening are slim and none. Take our QB now.

    And I’m less against Winston now too. I still “want” Mariota, but Winston is acceptable, given what I’ve learned over the last few days.

  34. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    If numerous NFL evaluators/front office personnel are glamouring at the idea of trading for Glennon-I’m sure they see something in the Kid.

    We can all agree-that as an organization-The BUCS-have done terrible job developing talent. Numerous players have moved on with some marginal level of success.

    With a team with a ton of holes we can also agree, that we’re not just one player away. So If a team is willing to give up the farm, why not use those picks to develop an evenly competitive roster.

  35. Skyline Crew Says:

    Mariota and Winston are nearly identical on the field. Lovie’s only option is to draft Mariota if he wants to succeed.

  36. mikeh Says:

    I agree with you guys on that. it has not been good.

  37. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    That’s why I keep bringing up the Philly trade, because at least we get a–Pro Bowl QB in return (possibly a LT, and TE as well)

  38. mikeh Says:

    @ luvmybucs- yes I said that a month ago I don’t know if lovie wants to start with a rookie after last years crap! we shall see.

  39. ddneast Says:

    I really respect Bill Polian’s opinions. He built two NFL franchises and I think even a third. The guy has forgotten more than what most Modern GM’s know.

  40. Jack Says:

    Mariota could be the next Russell Wilson, and the BUCS might copy Seattle.

    That would mean Glennon gone, and for now the BUCs are keeping Glennon.

  41. White Tiger Says:

    Some of you don’t seem to understand that the only reason QB’s seemingly have “instant” success (and to punctuate @joe’s point, their have been TWO in the last 17 years)…is because the offensive line, and/or wide receiver’s were already in place.

    The reason Tom Brady flourished…is because the offensive line was actually built (and re-built) for the exact same type of QB – Drew Bledsoe…another stationary, dropback QB originally drafted by the Pats with the #1 overall pick in ’93, 9 years before Tom Brady was drafted in 6th round. Not only did the Pats have a killer o-line, the year he started for the Pats, Antowain Smith gained over 1000 yards.

    Peyton Manning didn’t have Andrew Luck’s “luck”…he went 3-13 in his rookie season, but he flipped that in his sophomore season – not because the team brought on any other players, just that Peyton had his “aha moment”…

    Ben Roethlisberger would be one of the one’s I would say match up best to the scenario folks like @Pawel @WS99 @noleonsatBuccsonSun naively believe can “just happen” if you get the right QB…but again, Big Ben’s o-line consisted of pro bowl LT Marvel Smith, 9 time pro bowler G Alan Faneca, 2 time pro bowler C Jeff Hartings – not to mention running backs Jerome Bettis, WIllie Parker (both pro-bowlers).

    Besides Andrew Luck – again, already solid o-line, augmented by great FA and great draft…that offensive line – and the addition to the spread-heavy offensive philosophy (similar to what Andrew ran at Stanford) made it possible to leverage the play of a great group of receivers Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery…and Coby Fleener….

    I’d add Russell Wilson to that list…then again, it would be a near repeat…except that Pete Carroll built his spread-option/wco offense around and FOR a spread-option QB that just happened to fit Russell Wilson’s style…the fact that he ended up directing his team to a Wild Card Playoff spot, too…changed the idea of a spread-option QB being able to run his offense with success in the NFL.

    You all tell me…did Evan Dietrich-Smith, Demar Dotson, Anthony Collins, Logan Mankins/Patrick Omameh/Oneil Cousins remind you guys of a pro bowl “pro-style” offensive line?

    THAT’s what makes champions…not a phat, mouthy, college QB that runs the 40 in 4.97…

    Now, that current oline MIGHT work in a zone blocking scheme that ‘protects’ (i.e., get’s in the way of) just enough for a fleet-footed QB running a spread-heavy/WCO to have some success in his first season.

    Too many things needed to re-build an offense around another slow-footed pro-style QB we seem to run through every few years…

  42. LUVMYBUCS Says:



  43. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    If you get Herschel Walker-style offer for the #1 pick— that includes a Pro Bowl Caliber QB….You get’er done.

  44. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Success w/ Previous Pro Bowl QB’s–prior to joining the Bucs

    Brad Johnson (Pro Bowl) Washington
    • 1999

    *2002←Pro Bowl w/the Bucs+Super Bowl*

    Brian Griese (Pro Bowl) Denver
    • 2000

    *2005←(5- 1 record) as QB helped Bucs w/playoff birth *

    Jeff Garcia (Pro Bowl) 49ers
    • 2000
    • 2001
    • 2003

    **2007←Pro Bowl w/the Bucs+Playoffs*

  45. J Moné Says:

    Blah blah blah no sense in talking about it winstons is the people choice the coaches choice let’s focus on OLIne and that awesome 2nd round pick.

  46. louden Says:

    @white tiger: sounds legit

    @Joe: thanks for a little break of the current Winston-Commercial that´s going on^^
    showing that there are other options also.. always nice to have more options at once available, so you could choose the right one 😉
    done with good judgement, lets call it: decision making..

    oh wow, what a golden off-season of oppertunitys the Bucs have.
    Agree with Joe, how the hell could someone say, that the heads in Tampa aren´t sitting in a great position..
    They in fact should be happy as ever, its like a mouse in a cheese factory “where to go first” — all that flavors

    Trades of all kinds, FA with some cap and of course, the NFL Draft!!
    pure excitement coming those next 2 months!

  47. John McKillop Says:

    I like listening to Billl Polian more than anybody, because he has been there in the Gm chair. Built Buffalo and went to four straight super bowls, then built Indy into a winner. He knows what he is talking about more than anybody in this comment section. As far as quarterbacks sitting for a year or two like the old days, there is merit to that. The pro game is very different no matter what offensive system you come from, I think forcing quarterbacks to play too soon is the reason for the incredibly high bust rate for the position.

  48. Bill Byrne Says:

    To ALL those critics, including Joe, who focus on the spread offense that Mariota grew up in, look how many times Brady, Rogers, Breese, Manning and others, take snaps from the shotgun formation. My guess is about 40-45% of the time. Mariota is a smart guy and getting use to being under center and commanding a huddle will not be a problem.

  49. rayjay1122 Says:

    I for one am just thrilled to be in the position to take the guy of our choosing. Maybe that is why they passed on QB last draft as they thought this years options would be better, so getting a WR1 was top priority last draft? Just a theory though. I am not nearly the talent expert that most of the fans on here are.

  50. louden Says:

    And the possible intoduction as also productive and declaring as “normal” usage of the pistol formation..
    A big RunningBack with a little more inrun – boom! =)

    combined with a threat of the QB running himself – or just selling to run himself..
    ooooh, dreaming of an exciting offense for the TampaBayBuccaneers here

  51. louden Says:

    Mike Evans as a great big target, sounds good for QB´s coming in and learning how to throw in NFL..
    You guys know the best blocking WR in the NFL?

    and he´s having fun doing soo!!

  52. BirdDoggers Says:

    There is a general belief that Winston will have a better chance at success because he came from a pro style system. Regardless, he will struggle. The biggest factor could be which QB can handle the adversity better.

  53. Firethecannons Says:

    I’m open to anything with the first pick. Ideally, I’m on board with those wanting to trade the pick. The ransom we would command would be too much to pass up in my opinion. This team needs a lot of help – so the more picks (multiple firsts, seconds, and player(s)) would help build a competitive roster for the future playoff runs. Now I get it – we need a QB desperately. I’ve watched the bucs ever since I was in 4th grade – I’m 28 now- so I know we haven’t had a QB, well, ever actually. If we stay at one, I want Mariota. I’ve heard the knock about not playing a “pro” offense. He played in the offense that his coach/OC wanted to run. That does not mean he is incapable of learning an nfl offense. Well his receivers were all wide open you say – THOSE ARE THETHROWS HE’S SUPPOSED TO MAKE THEN. Well you say he takes a lot of sacks, too. I would rather my QB take a sack and have another down to potentially extend the drive as opposed to throwing a pick – which Winston threw A LOT of. That’s what scares me the most about Winston. I’ve seen the guy throw into quadruple coverage in the middle of the field. You can’t throw 4 picks in the first half of an nfl game and expect to win in the 4th quarter. I’m not a Winston hater or racist/bigot as some of you posters would claim. If we take him then I will buy his jersey and be his biggest fan. I just wouldn’t risk it. just my two cents – but what do I know?

  54. Pickgrin Says:

    Most highly respected NFL wise man Polian says – “Lovie’s blueprint works”. I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with the anti-Lovie crowd. Time to reconsider your position perhaps Lovie haters?

  55. mikeh Says:

    well! polian should have said lovies blueprint worked. and how long ago did he get to the superbowl and or make it past the first round of playoffs. we shall see. if it still works sooner or later I guess.

  56. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Skyline,mariota and WINSton are the same on the field? Wow. What an insult.

  57. BoJim Says:

    Lovie’s obvious choice can only be MM. Why can’t people see that? He’s says he likes mobility in a QB because his olines usually suck and he’ll be running for his life constantly. Duh.

  58. NorthernBucFan Says:

    Joe thank you for this piece with Bill Polian it’s hard to argue his point of view. The buccaneers will tell you how green the grass is at one buc palace they will even tell you what there serving for luch on draft day. Lovie is like every other NFL coach he will lead you down a dark road before he tips his hand in the Draft. It will be a long couple of months to debate who they pick, all we can do is hope it’s the right choice, we are fans we have suffered almost 40 years . Ownership promised us the fans a franchise quarterback a long time ago and never delivered, we as fans deserve this so pray they get it right.

  59. Brandon Says:

    Joe Says:
    February 23rd, 2015 at 12:58 pm
    But why can’t we believe that rookie QB can succeed in their first year,

    Oh, you can believe it. Just like you can believe in the tooth fairy if you want.

    History is unwavering. Rarely do rookie quarterbacks fare well. Ones that do are very much the exception and very much stars. Manning and Big Ben spring to mind. That’s two, in what, 17 years?

    Peyton threw 25 INTs and didn’t win and Roethlisberger was also protected by a great running game and defense. That team didn’t lose a game until the playoffs with him leading the team… but he couldn’t win with his arm at that time… not yet.

  60. cmurda Says:

    I was just daydreaming about us on the clock at pick #1 and I started struggling for air. I cannot wait until April 30