INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 4: A group of players including head coach Chuck Pagano (far left) and first round draft pick Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts pose for a photo following a rookie minicamp at the team facility on May 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Despite inheriting a secondary that allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 71% of their passes for 25 TDs and only 8 INTs in 2011, G.M. Ryan Grigson has done little to nothing to address this. Not in the draft. Not in veteran free agency. He did sign four undrafted rookie corners, but let's be realistic. If any of those guys even make the practice squad, they should consider themselves lucky.
Based on Grigson's post-draft interviews, it seems pretty clear that the Colts very much wanted to trade back into the second round and grab Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward. However, they couldn't swing a deal, and the Packers ended up grabbing Hayward two spots ahead of the Colts at pick No. 62. Grigson then went with option two, which involved drafting TE Dwayne Allen.
With ten picks in the draft, only two were dedicated to defensive players. Of those two, one is recovering from an ACL injury while the other is a seventh round project player.
The front office's inability (or unwillingness) to draft or sign players for the secondary reportedly had new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky more than a little pissed off.
During two of Pagano's post-draft press conferences, he half-joked about how Manusky was all over him for the team not getting more defensive players in the draft. The second night of the draft, where the Colts dedicated their second round pick (No. 34) to a tight end before using their No. 64 pick on another tight end, Manusky was reportedly seeing red.
I got Manusky all up my you-know-what. He's fightin' mad. I just saw him walk in the weight room. He'll probably go get on the elliptical for about two hours.
Now, you all can take this any way you want. I took it (and several others who were there took it) as something more than Pagano trying to be lighthearted.
Manusky's anger was real as well as understandable, especially if you look at things from his P.O.V.
This is a man who has been fired from two coordinator jobs in two years (San Francisco and San Diego, respectively). I spoke with several people at the draft, many of whom have covered this league for decades. Manusky was loathed in both SF and SD by the players. The only reason he has a coordinator job today is because of his friendship with Pagano. Interesting note: John Pagano, Chuck's brother, replaced Manusky as defensive coordinator in San Diego.
When you think about it, this is Manusky's last chance. If he cannot field a good defense in Indianapolis, he's unlikely to get another shot as a coordinator job if-or-when he's fired from the Colts. He's also been tasked to completely overhaul the defensive scheme, and he's doing this with one of the most talent deficient secondary groups in the NFL. If the Colts defense plays as poorly on the the field this season as they look on paper now, who do you think will take the blame?
Not Grigson. Not Pagano. No, it will be Manusky, the guy who was canned twice in two years and who everyone seemed to hate at his two previous gigs.
He's being set-up to fail. It doesn't matter if Grigson did not intend for things to appear this way. Intentions are meaningless in the NFL. Perception is everything, and when the defense starts to fail and the pressure mounts, do you honestly think Ryan Grigson is going to fall on a sword for Greg Manusky?
No. He won't. He'll order Pagano to fire Manusky, and unless Pagano wants to join him in unemployment, Pagano will comply IF things get to that point. We've seen this type of thing play out before, as recently as last year when Jim Caldwell threw Larry Coyer under a moving freight train at the behest of Bill and Chris Polian.
Now, perhaps there is some kind of backroom deal between Grigson and Manusky where both have a mutual understanding of what is expected from this defense in 2012. Personally, I don't believe that. Manusky's draft day reactions coupled with Pagano emphatically stating over and over that the Colts are NOT "rebuilding" suggests that they actually expect this defnese to play well. When it struggles, or if we see another opponent drop 60-plus points on the Colts (like the Saints did last year), who do you think will get his head stuck on a pike, Game of Thrones-style?
It will be Manusky, which is why he is probably just a tad pissed off right now at his front office.
During their joint post-draft press conference, Pagano and Grigson continued to preach the mantra of "best for the team," and how everything is going to be fine. Maybe it will be be. I certainly hope so. However, in this business, assistants and coordinators are always weary of the people in charge who use that sort of language. "Oh, don't worry. We'll be fine. Think of the team."
The defensive coordinator is not judged based on how the team does. He's judged based on how well the defense plays. For Greg Manusky, this is it for him. He has to turn this defense around, and already he is behind the eight ball in terms of talent to get the job done.