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Colts leader Polian looks ahead to 2010, not back at Super Bowl loss

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Polian is finished thinking and talking about the 2009 season and the Colts' Super Bowl loss.

Instead, the Colts' president already is focusing on next season and the moves his team needs to make for another title run.

"If you're a professional, you recognize that what happens in this game is in the here and now, not the past," Polian said Friday. "You focus on the future. You focus on the task at hand. That's what you are required to do, that's what successful teams do."

Nobody understands that concept better than Polian, the architect of the four-time Super Bowl runner-up Buffalo Bills, the 1996 NFC runner-up Carolina Panthers and now the Super Bowl runner-up Colts. His fingerprints undoubtedly will be all over what Indianapolis opts to do during this uncertain offseason.

He's just not giving away any trade secrets.

During a surly 25-minute news conference Friday, Polian repeatedly declined to elaborate on the team's biggest question marks, the future of the league's collective bargaining agreement or which areas he believes the Colts need improvement.

First, Polian wants to figure out how to deal with his own veterans. Fifteen players could become free agents March 5, but just two -- middle linebacker Gary Brackett and kicker Matt Stover -- are unrestricted, and Stover probably won't be back anyway.

So the Colts will turn their attention to extending the contract of four-time league MVP Peyton Manning. The quarterback's deal doesn't expire until after the 2010 season, but Colts owner Jim Irsay wants to make Manning the highest-paid quarterback in the league, a discussion of which Polian wants no part.

"Why would I negotiate with you?" he said. "I'll negotiate with Tom Condon (Manning's agent). That's for he and I to discuss."

It wasn't the only time that Polian was punchy Friday:

» When asked about re-signing Brackett, Polian acknowledged that he wants to keep the linebacker, though he can't guarantee it. Brackett is the Colts' defensive captain.

» When asked whether assistant offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars would replace the retired Howard Mudd as offensive line coach, following the scripted succession, Polian said that would be coach Jim Caldwell's decision.

» When asked whether offensive coordinator Tom Moore would return for a 13th season with Manning and the Colts, Polian said he didn't know.

» And when asked about his Monday night critique of the offensive line's performance in the loss to the New Orleans Saints, Polian said: "I've spoken about that already. I think what I said is concise and clear."

The question is how much fixing do the Colts need?

They set league records for most consecutive regular-season wins (23), most wins in a decade (115) and extended their own mark of consecutive 12-win seasons to seven. They reached their second Super Bowl in the last four years.


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Plus, Indianapolis accomplished all that despite having four starters out with season-ending injuries. Three other starters -- wide receiver Reggie Wayne, cornerback Jerraud Powers and defensive end Dwight Freeney -- weren't 100 percent in the Super Bowl. Freeney played extensively against the Saints with a torn ligament in his right ankle.

"There is no surgery for Dwight, so far as I know," Polian said. "But we have not finalized that list at this point in time."

Nor has Polian completed his evaluations. He expects the coaches, including Caldwell, to take a short break before coming back and taking a deeper look into what went wrong in the Super Bowl.

"We'll do what we can to improve, and we'll do it with the idea that every season is a new season," Polian said. "There is no carryover. There's no hangover, there's no carryover, it's a brand-new season. We are well on the way to dealing with 2010."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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