The 2013 season is done. Ground to dust into the turf of Gillette Stadium.
So, what now?
Despite a season with several significant accomplishments reached, I can't help but feel as though we're left with more questions than answers as the Indianapolis Colts head into the offseason.
Where is this Indianapolis Colts franchise going? Are the people in charge, specifically head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, still the right people to get them there? What changes are needed?
As Josh and many others have stated repeatedly, criticism of a very flawed and, in many ways, poorly coached Colts team does not necessarily mean FIRE EVERYONE!!! It's one thing to get pissed off during a game and want everyone pink-slipped. It's another to actually still want it following the conclusion of another season. We all get emotional because we're all fans. However, when the emotions of a game or a season subside, odds are people really don't want to see the people in charge canned.
Not yet, at least.
However, if anyone is still in the "In Grigson/Pagano We Trust" camp, they're simply blind ideologues who have pulled the wool over their blue-and-white-painted heads.
There is no question that 2013 was a successful season when compared to 2012. The AFC South division was re-captured. A playoff game was hosted and that game was won in dramatic fashion. These are significant accomplishments for a team that purged nearly its entire roster following a 2-14 season in 2011. Since Pagano and Grigson are the men in charge, they rightly get the credit for these accomplishments
However, as fans and writers, it's limiting and short-sighted to simply say "2013 was a success" if we are just comparing it to 2012. In many ways, there were more failures than successes this past season, and the general approach the brain trust took towards 2013 was more Win Now rather than Build For the Future.
The front office made several moves that sacrificed the future for a chance to win now, with the Trent Richardson trade being the most obvious example of this "all in" strategy. Whether or not this trade will help the Colts win games in the future is still debatable, but there's no question that the trade for Richardson was a colossal failure for the 2013 Colts. I say this as someone who liked the trade when it happened and - for reasons I still can't seem to rationalize despite Richardson's poor performance - I still think can benefit the Colts.
No matter how hopeful I am about Richardson's future, there is no doubt that his present productivity leaves much to be desired. The same holds true for other Grigson/Pagano additions that busted hard in 2013, such as overpriced safety LaRon Landry, injury-prone corner Greg Toler, and pretty much anyone that played along the interior of the offensive line.
For me, the following questions continue to rattle around in my skull:
How much longer will Pagano have to fix his defense?
Can Ryan Grigson afford another disastrous season like 2013?
Is this brain trust holding Andrew Luck back?
Again, it's difficult to be upset with 2013, but I can't help but feel it's a bit of Fool's Gold. The Colts were 6-0 against a very poor AFC South division, but 5-5 against everyone else. They dominated San Francisco on the road and defeated Seattle and Denver at home. Yet, they also got utterly annihilated by the Rams at home and on the road against the Cardinals and Bengals.
This was a very streaky, mercurial Colts team in 2013. It was anything but consistent, and that, more than anything, is what concerns me going forward.