Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
In a tumultuous offseason, the Colts hired general manager Ryan Grigson to "build the monster". With limited time to work, Grigson pulled players together from all over, and now they are playing together much earlier than anyone could have expected.
[Editor's note: This is Josh's take on Grigson, which is sunny and outstanding. We'll also have another post that is a bit more critical of the first-year GM, but, overall, the consensus among Stampede Blue's writing crew is Ryan is pretty damn good. -Brad]
Go back to January 11, way back when the Colts still had Jim Caldwell as their coach and Peyton Manning as their quarterback. Back to when Bill Polian had been fired just nine days ago. Jim Irsay held a press conference to announce the new general manager of the Indianapolis Colts – Ryan Grigson, a former scout with the Eagles and later was promoted to director of player personnel. Those who knew Grigson seemed to think it was a good move, but I have to admit I had my doubts.
Now, there’s no doubt about Ryan Grigson. In fact, just go ahead and hand him the executive of the year right now, eight games into the season. Grigson is going to win it. There’s no doubt about that either. What he has built in Indianapolis, with such scarce talent and such limited resources with such little time has been, in one word, incredible.
Ok, drafting Andrew Luck was a no-brainer, or at least it should have been (and I believe it was to owner Jim Irsay, who had the final call on the matter). But the other picks – Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, Vick Ballard – they are contributing early on as well. This season the Colts have gotten 43% of their offensive production from rookies. Yeah, take away Reggie Wayne’s numbers and the rookies have combined for 58 percent of offensive production.
And Reggie’s numbers were almost taken away, had it not been for Grigson. Many thought that Wayne had played his last home game for the Colts last year when he caught that game winner against Houston. When Grigson was hired, he wasn’t having any of it. He offered Wayne a chance to come back. And Reggie took it. He had offers from other teams for more money. But he stayed in Indy, and he has become the go-to-guy for a quarterback who is quickly becoming one of the best in the league.
Another re-signing crucial to the surprising success of this team was bringing back Robert Mathis. Mathis was resigned by Grigson and has not disappointed, racking up six sacks in only five games and continuing his streak to eight consecutive games with a sack. Without him, the Colts’ pass rush has been pretty much nonexistent. Just another move made by Ryan Grigson which is paying huge dividends, and quickly too.
And that’s not to mention the many, many free agent signings that have come together to form this team of apparent misfits, joining with one purpose and one heart. Yeah, they have something to fight for now with their head coach battling leukemia. They have the heart of a contender. The talent, however, is lacking, despite a 5-3 record. But Grigson took over a team that was sinking, and fast. He patched the holes and hoped for the best.
So far, so good.
The Colts haven’t sunk. Actually, quite the opposite. To the surprise of almost everybody, they are moving in the direction of the playoffs. Playoffs? Yes, Jim Mora, the Colts are right now on the path towards the playoffs.
And a big reason for that is the job Grigson did in the offseason. Tom Zbikowski, the starting strong safety. Cory Redding, stabilizing the defensive line. Samson Satele, Winston Justice, and Mike McGlynn, all starting on the offensive line. Wide receiver Donnie Avery, who had a great game against Miami and is looking like he’s starting to fit into this offense. Trading for Vontae Davis, addressing the most glaring need at cornerback. And then what about Jerrell Freeman? I mean, Grigson signed the guy out of the CFL and he’s started at linebacker for the Colts all year, leading the team in tackles.
This is certainly a team of misfits, coming together from various NFL teams and various colleges, all now Colts. This team’s adaptation was sped up by the motivation provided from Chuck Pagano, no doubt, but Ryan Grigson is to be greatly commended for his work this offseason. If not for him, the Colts aren’t 5-3. No way. This team had too many holes. They’re not perfect, and in fact they have much work left to do. But with only one offseason, one filled with much drama and uncertainty, Grigson did his best.
And that may be good enough for a playoff berth.
Executive of the year? There’s no doubt about that.