Colts begin cleansing process in front office

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Cleaning out the Colts front office may be only the start of the changes in Indianapolis.

Team owner Jim Irsay scheduled a Monday afternoon news conference amid reports that he had fired team vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts’ general manager. Bill Polian declined to comment on the move, and Chris Polian left the complex without speaking with reporters.

Irsay must also decide whether coach Jim Caldwell should be replaced, whether a healthy Peyton Manning and a new quarterback can co-exist in the same locker room, and which veteran free agents come back next year, if any.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a year in the NFL where a team went 2-14 and there’s not been changes,” defensive captain Gary Brackett said Monday, less than 24 hours after a season-ending loss at Jacksonville.

Outsiders had expected the first order of business to be the firing of Caldwell, who won 14 straight games and advanced to the Super Bowl in his first season as Colts coach. Instead, team spokesman Avis Roper denied rumors that Irsay had met with Caldwell and the Polians. Caldwell said he did speak with Irsay following the 19-13 loss at Jacksonville and with both Polians on Monday, part of his usual routine.

Less than two hours later, the team scheduled the news conference, presumably to announce the firings.

“You lose as many games as we lost in a year, there’s a problem, there’s an issue,” Caldwell said. “But when we were 14-2, the way you guys put it, my job was in limbo then, right?”

The elder Polian constructed Super Bowl teams in Buffalo and Indy, and an NFC title contender at Carolina.

But troubling signs emerged this season as the Colts lost time and time again — 13 straight at one point — with Manning sidelined to recover from Sept. 8 neck surgery. And it was Manning who suggested he and Bill Polian were not on the same page.

Polian said on one of his weekly radio shows that he and the four-time league MVP had discussed the possibility of establishing a transition plan at quarterback and that Manning was OK with it. Manning later said the two had never discussed the 2012 draft plans, which include the No. 1 pick amid speculation that the Colts will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to groom as Manning’s successor.

Then, just before Christmas, Polian told local reporters that Manning would fail his exit physical, a move that would actually help the Colts because it would allow him to continue working out at the team complex during the offseason.

“That was kind of news to me,” Manning told reporters Sunday, then said he probably could pass the physical.

Fans have been clamoring for the ouster of Caldwell and both Polians. Irsay, a frequent poster on Twitter, has been listening.

“I want 2 thank all ColtsFans..here,throughout the country n abroad,4ur tremendous,loyal support all year long. Ur feedback is heard n noted,” he tweeted Monday morning.

For their part, players offered support for Caldwell, who just wrapped his third year as head coach in Indy.

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