I don't think Ryan Grigson is the NFL's best executive.
I do think he's done a very impressive job this year, and he's started to open up a bit during interviews. When I've talked to people around the league, the perception of Grigson is that of a young, serious-minded, inexperienced guy working to make his team better. The inexperience might explain why he seemingly got fleeced with the Vontae Davis trade, but there is no doubt that Grigson seems to spend every waking moment trying to get the Indianapolis Colts better.
I'll state the obvious: That was not the priority of the Polians last year.
Recently, Grigson has started to provide insight into his process when it comes to evaluating and signing players. He's got half a season under his belt, and media have taken notice of the job he's done in Indy.
Recently, he told WFNI's Dan Dakich:
Hey, listen, we're here to find players. Doesn't matter where they're from. Doesn't matter what their life story is. As long as they're good human beings, love the game, and produce on film, and at least have adequate size and seem to play fast, we'll give them a shot.
As I've often told you nutty Colts fans, this is the kind of stuff I like to hear from GMs. It's all about improving the team. Everything else is secondary. No excuses.
But, that wasn't the best part of Grigson's interview with Dakich. When asked about all the players they'd brought in this year, many being low cost free agents "off the street," Grigson answered:
We had no choice but to bring guys in off the street. We had so many injuries there for a while. And then, going into this offseason, we didn't have a lot of cash to go around. So, we had to just make due. I think we all took it as a challenge in our department because that's what this is about. Scouting is about finding talent. You just gotta keep keep digging and keep looking. Eventually, you find one and everything starts in a line. They get out there and they do some good things, but the coaches have done awesome, as well as Chuck [Pagano] with laying it out in an honest way. Like, hey, this is your opportunity A.Q. Shipley. This is your opportunity Darius Butler. You might not have anymore after this. They've answered the bell, most of them. The ones that haven't are somewhere else.
The comments regarding Butler are interesting, given that Butler just won AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two picks and a forced fumble against the Jaguars in Week 10. The comments are also 100% correct. Butler was unceremoniously cut from the Patriots in September of 2011, and he was cut by the Panthers in January 2012. Indianapolis was his last chance.
Amazingly, Grigson was very honest in his interview with Dakich in reaffirming that [emphasis mine]:
When [Darius] came into my office, I showed him my actual college report. I'd never done that with a player before. But I really felt he was a talent as well as did Chuck. Chuck was like, when I first brought his name up, he was like, "Heck yeah. He was one of my highest rated guys coming out of the '09 draft." So, I just basically broke it down for Darius that, you know man, you don't make it here - and this was a time where everyone still thought we flat out stunk, and we had no chance, and a terrible secondary, blah, blah, blah- I told him that you don't make it here, we're talking doomsday scenario for you, Darius. We're talking UFL. We're talking other leagues because if you don't make it with the Colts as a corner, you're gonna basically be a leper. So, he took that to heart pretty well because [sic] that day at practice, the first day of practice, he had two picks. We hadn't had any hands on balls for, like, a week prior to that.
That's... that's kind of awesome how Grigson laid that out.
If you can't play corner for the talent-starved Colts secondary, you're so bad you might as well have flesh rotting off your face.
Basically, Grigson is admitting that Indy's corners, overall, kind of stink (or, that they stunk at some point in the season). This is not news. I'm just kind of floored that a Colts GM was this honest.
Grigson turned over the entire secondary this past offseason, dumping Polian Era busts like Kevin Thomas and Chris Rucker and replacing them with players like Butler. He's done everything he can to bring in people who have some semblance of talent.
I'm just sort of blown away by how candid the Colts GM is about Butler, the state of the secondary when he arrived (hint: not very good), and how Butler has improved it.
At the time of Butler's signing, Vontae Davis and Justin King were hurt. The Colts secondary looked terrible the first three games of the season, but no worse than after they gave up an 80-yard touchdown to Cecil Short with 45 seconds left in Week Three. Two weeks after Butler's signing, King was cut. I guess he's a "leper" now.
This sort of honesty from Grigson gives someone like me (a speculative blogger) more insight into several of the Colts roster decisions. Grigson does not seem like the type to tolerate crappy play. He effectively admitted it in the interview:
I am impatient.
This explains why King, who was the nickel corner, was cut one month into the season. It explains why Kevin Thomas, who worked as a "starter" all throughout the OTAs, was shipped out before preseason games were played. It might explain why, for reasons that still haven't been fully detailed, Jerraud Powers was placed on IR this week. Sure, Powers might be legitimately hurt, but that IR news hit everyone for a loop, and it was no secret that Powers wasn't playing well this season.
Powers is in the final year of his rookie deal. He's ended his last three seasons on IR.
For me personally, Grigson won me over with this interview. THIS is the guy I wanted to hear back in April. Just like Bruce Arians, I might not agree with every decision he makes, but it's hard not to like him.
Dammnit! Now I might have to re-think my "He's not the best GM in the league" stance.
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