Colts general manager Ryan Grigson held his end of season press conference today for the media. Here's what he had to say...
- Of course, with this being an end of season press conference Ryan Grigson did the obligatory 'thank you's' at the beginning of the press conference. He thanked owner Jim Irsay for his support and guidance. He thanked head coach Chuck Pagano for his leadership, which has been, according to Grigson, a "rock" during some tough times. He thanked the assistant coaches as well and, ever the scout, Grigson thanked the scouts who are often forgotten. Lastly, he thanked the fans, saying that the "12th man keeps getting stronger." He said that the Denver game was the loudest he has ever heard Lucas Oil Stadium and that anyone at the Kansas City playoff game will remember how loud that was too. He thanked the fans for staying the entire game, unlike most fan bases.
- Grigson was asked about any staff changes - particularly with Clyde Christensen and Pep Hamilton, who are both rumored to be in the running for other jobs. Grigson said that they are currently just "waiting and seeing." He added that, "this time of year, if you're good, you're going to be in demand from other teams... It's kind of the byproduct of success. It's part of this business. That's why you got to have ‘next man up' with your coaching staff as well." He confirmed that Vanderbilt requested to interview Pep Hamilton for their head coach opening but said that is the only interview request so far.
- Asked about the area where the Colts need to improve the most, Grigson said it is consistency. "This year, if you look at our team and our wins, we've beaten the best. It's already been stated, but three of the four teams in this, this team has beaten. And then the other team, we were down by seven in the fourth quarter to. But we've got to put it together for four quarters, we can't have the roller coaster ride." MY TAKE: Well, on Monday Chuck Pagano also said that the area where the Colts need to improve most is consistency, so at least Grigson and Pagano are on the same page. That's consistency, right there!
- Grigson said that his goal when building the roster is to have everyone on his roster - including the backups - have starter ceilings. He wants there not to be a drop off when a backup steps in. His goal is to have championship level players throughout the entire roster. He added that it is hard to do and that you can't just go to Target and pick whatever you want off the shelf. He said it is a process, and said that they will continue to look under every rock and continue to churn the roster to create the most competition.
- On who really took steps forward this year, Grigson specifically mentioned T.Y. Hilton, Jerrell Freeman, and Robert Mathis.
- Grigson also said: "While we're happy with our progress since the new regime and since I first arrived here and hired Chuck (Pagano) and all those things, had two drafts, we're happy with our direction but we're not nearly satisfied. To say we were not disappointed that we're not in New York this year would be a lie. But we are going in the right direction. We have a nucleus of young players, a young quarterback that's shown some really rare intangibles under fire."
- On Trent Richardson and why he struggled this year, Grigson said it was confidence. He said that, "We have patience. He's not going anywhere. We have him for the long haul. We don't win 12 games this year if Trent Richardson isn't here. That's just a fact. We had a guy get hurt, our starter get hurt and the mindset here is we are not going to just go reach for a guy. We want to go out and get the best available guy, not just the best guy, we are going to go to the hill to get the best we can. I think Trent fits all the things that we are trying to do here. If it isn't this year, it's going to be next year because he's going to have the offseason. He's going to be dialed in as a pro. He's going to have his life in order. Chuck (Pagano) and all of us know that with a year under his belt, you are going to see a different player." MY TAKE: For much more on what Ryan Grigson said about Trent Richardson, read my article here.
- Grigson, asked about whether he has made any free agent decisions yet, said: "No, it's way cart before the horse. I've not talked to anyone. Those conversations will come later. You've got to remember, this is a long season. These coaches, and myself even, aren't in the frame of mind yet to make good decisions. We need to get a little rest, eat three meals and maybe just kind of live normal for at least a few days before we start making huge decisions. We need to step away." MY TAKE: That's smart by Grigson, taking a break before making the decisions on who will be back. That doesn't mean he's procrastinating or being lazy, it's actually pretty smart. He'll figure that out soon enough.
- Asked about whether the Colts will be aggressive in free agency again, Grigson said "I'm fortunate and our head coach is fortunate that we have an owner that's supportive. Even in the locker room after the game, he's so supportive in what we feel we need, he will let us get. He will be supportive of that and we can go get it."
- Grigson said that they are excited about Bjoern Werner and that the area where he needs to improve most is that he needs to get stronger. He said that Werner knows that and that Greg Manusky has been really working with him on that. He also said that Werner needs to improve against the run.
- Asked about whether Vontae Davis is a high priority this offseason, Grigson said that, "any corner, any cover corner is going to be high on the pecking order, especially in a scheme like ours. Vontae's a heck of a player. Again, consistency's the key. Vontae can be as good as he wants to be and you saw in some of those games this year where he just completely erased the receiver. And they were top-tier receivers in this league that it was like they didn't even play. So he does that every game and there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl every year. And he knows that. But we really like Vontae and like I said, once we go through this process and get to that point where we make those calls and do those things, hopefully it all works out how we want and we're better because of it." MY TAKE: There you have it. Vontae Davis is a priority for the Colts this year. That's no surprise and doesn't mean that Davis will be coming back, but Grigson said that he is a priority.
- Grigson said that when it comes to the injured guys, he thinks that they should all be ready at least by camp, but that there might be some PUP candidates - they'll see when they get closer. He said that he likes erring on the side of caution when it comes to injuries.
- Ryan Grigson noted that the Colts have to prepare for the time coming in the near future when they will need to give Andrew Luck a big contract. He said that they take that into consideration even now as they don't want to limit themselves and hurt the cap situation years from now. He said that he has plenty of smart people reminding him that - including Jim Irsay. MY TAKE: Luck very well might get the largest contract in history in just a few years. Yeah, it's very smart to begin preparing for that now. Very smart.
- On Andrew Luck running the football, Grigson said that, "he's got such a strong build. He's such a strong guy. Usually a quarterback just knows innately to not pick up a fumble and do a Walter Payton over the goal line. That's his mindset. He plays like a linebacker. He's built like a tight end. He's tough. And we've tried to wean him off some of those things and he's done better. He's slid a lot more and it's just a progression. And sometimes you want him to run it because he's got some wheels, I mean the guy can really run. So it's a delicate balance because he is your franchise. He becomes a running back when he's out there running the ball and you can put a lick on him. And we don't need him getting blown up by some 260-pound linebacker, we don't want that to happen. But it's a tough thing because he can decompress and deflate a defense on a 20-yard run on a scramble. So I'm not really concerned about that because I think we'll be smart." MY TAKE: I'm glad Grigson sees it from both angles, because he is absolutely right about Luck being a weapon when running. I'm glad that Grigson sees it as not trying to stop Luck from running but rather limit the hits he takes when doing so.