NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 30: Antoine Bethea #41 and Kevin Thomas #21 of the Indianapolis Colts break up a pass intended for Lavelle Hawkins #87 of the Tennessee Titans during play at LP Field on October 30, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Great write-up today from the Indy Star's Phillip B. Wilson discussing yesterday's trade involving Kevin Thomas and placing it in its proper context. That trade was less about finding quality linebacker depth than many of us realize. Here's Phil B [emphasis mine]:
While the former third-round pick was slotted as a starter through offseason camps and these first few days of training camp, as recently as Tuesday there were plays when he got beat. It’s fair to say he had yet to show coach Chuck Pagano or his staff the jump they were hoping to see.
If he had showed promise, the Colts wouldn’t have given up on him.
You take that next step forward or that step is out the door.
But this is about more than one guy.
Big picture, think about how quickly general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano made the decision to move on. Think back, also, to how the Colts waived-injured OL Ben Ijalana a day earlier, a day after it was announced the former second-round pick had tore his left ACL again.
The message being delivered is as clear as it can be, just as Grigson said before the NFL draft when asked what he was looking for: The Colts need guys who can play in this league. If you can’t, or in this case if a guy doesn’t prove himself when given an opportunity, then he’s gone.
For the most part, we've been Pro Grigson around here. Unfortunately, the positive write-ups we give him don't get the attention the critical ones get. How it goes. Overall, he did a good job drafting back in April. His free agent signings are solid. It's been refreshing to have a front office that is aggressive about trades. So far, we like him. Hard not to at this point.
However, this message of "play well, or you're toast" is by far my favorite change as a result of hiring Grigson. It's a message that is long overdue for several players on this roster.
It's important to note that Grigson has more leverage to impose this message now, what with so many players still on this roster from the Polian regime. Shipping a bust like Kevin Thomas off to Philly is much easier for Grigson to do. Grigson didn't draft Thomas, and thus isn't accountable for his failures.
Two years from now, it will be interesting to see if Grigson is as tough with players drafted during his tenure. It's one thing to admit your predecessor's players suck. It's another to admit your own do.
Until then, I like the tone Grigson and Chuck Pagano are setting.
Make no mistake: I hear there is no love lost between Grigson and the Polians. Ryan fired former Colts president Bill Polian's son Dennis over the phone four months ago, a parting that (I'm told) was not done on pleasant terms. Since then, we've also seen Ben Ijalana effectively waived (a player former G.M. Chris Polian very much coveted) and now Kevin Thomas is sent to Philly.
The Colts weren't just 2-14 last year because Peyton Manning was in street clothes. They were 2-14 because the roster was terrible and players had no accountability for bad performance. Things have changed, and the Thomas trade was another notice of that change.