It's been a long time since Ryan Grigson first took the podium when he was hired as the new general manager of the Colts. I remember him being stiff and nervous. Maybe even a little unsure of himself. But it's still hard to blame him given the decisions he had to make in the next few months.
It's been about a year and a half since then, and Grigson is like a different person now. He was confident and candid as he spoke to the media yesterday before the afternoon practice, seeming sure of the direction his team is headed.
I picked out and transcribed some of my favorite quotes from Grigson during the on-field news conference. All of the questions came from different members of the media. I thought his answers on recently-signed Daniel Adongo and on how the team scouts were especially interesting.
Q: This is your second go-around here with training camp as the general manager. Do you feel a bit more comfortable?
A: If you ever say the word comfortable, you're probably not going to be around too long. I don't ever really I guess allow myself to be comfortable. That's the mindset in the building is we're always trying to get better. If we tell the players not to stop and smell the roses, we better not be doing that ourselves.
Q: Andrew Luck has his own goals. Coach Pagano has his own goals for Luck. What are your goals for your quarterback?
A: It's really simple. We just want him to get better every day just like every other player out here. He expects greatness of himself. That's something we've been saying since we drafted him. No one's a harsher critic than Andrew is, and you hear that repeatedly, but it's the truth. So we really have nothing really more to say on him. Time is his best friend, because with each experience and new experience he gets playing the position, and each different game and environment he goes into, a new hostile environment, whatever - they're all learning experiences and they'll make him better in the end. So the more and more battles he gets through, and I'm sure Matt Hasselbeck can help him through some of those that he hasn't been in, that's something that we did as well for his development. But we feel obviously good about Andrew Luck and where he's going.
Q: What do you look for as a GM? How do you watch training camp?
A: You always try to have a pecking order of how you go about, I at least do, of I want to go watch this position today, this position, this position - but you always have film to fall back on. So I kinda like to go back and let things marinate in my head. Usually you'll see, if a guy's really having a good practice, he's usually gonna stand out. If a guy's having a really bad practice, he's usually gonna stand out. If a guy's not working hard, he's usually gonna stand out like a sore thumb. Strangely enough, I don't put that much emphasis on the practice because I don't have 100 eyeballs. So I can't stop and manipulate what's going on out here. If there's a couple guys maybe that we're on the fence about down the road, then I might go and zero in on him out of the corner of my eye and watch him and the other guy to get a real bird's eye. But it still comes down to the tape, just like it does in the whole evaluation process.
Q: What was your reaction when you had the off-field issues with the three players?
A: Disappointment. Pure disappointment. Owner was disappointed. Chuck was disappointed. That's all I can say. We weren't happy and we expect more out of our players. And we won't stop having high expectations for those people.
Note: The next question was inaudible, but followed up on the previous question.
A: We believe in second chances. People make mistakes. We have a culture here where guys know the expectations. But we handle all these things internally. Like I said, we have a culture here and things are done on a case-to-case basis. We compile all the information, we'll sit down with those individuals and then collectively get together - Chuck, I and Mr. Irsay - and we talk about it. And we try to always do what's best for the organization.
Q: How steep a curve does Adongo have?
A: Well, right now he's the 90th man on the roster. He's a guy we brought in that has a very raw skill set, obviously. You watch him throw the football for the first time, in about a nanosecond you say, 'Well, he's not a quarterback.' He had never thrown a football before. But once you start seeing him move around with those long limbs, and you see the type of competitor and really the traits he has as a human being and just as an athlete, you have something to work with. You basically have a lump of clay for these coaches to work with and it's really gratifying to see. We brought him in for a work out, 17 hours from Johannesburg - that's before the connection - [and] you see those coaches kinda beaming, knowing that they have a completely, like our linebackers coach said, a truly blank canvas, because it's not like he came from a small school or he came from a guy that hadn't played since high school. We're talking about a guy that hasn't been able to learn any bad habits because he's never played. I told him anything he's doing that's "a bad habit", he must learn from [the media].
Yes, that last sentence was a joke, for those that need help with humor.
Q: So how did you find this guy? Where did you hear of him?
A: Last fall, we had started talking about it, and a pro scout of ours, John Shaw, was kinda delegated the duty of 'Hey, this is your baby. Let's see what you can do with it. See if you can give me a cluster of guys that are worthwhile and the right age group, the right traits, the right makeup [and to] actually be able to make the transition since it is a major one. But when you look as the roster is going from 80 to 90, we'd much rather as a staff, I don't know about everybody else, but as a staff, we'd rather give the coaches something to work with than just a true camp body that we know is going to be cut in a week or two and is not going to help us get where we want to go. Because injuries, like we learned last year more than anybody, you have to have someone at least viable. If you have someone that can't play or the arrow isn't going up at all, even slightly, you're not going to win when you're playing a 16-game season. Then you factor in the playoffs. You need depth. So hopefully by the sixteenth week, some of these guys that you see in camp, you're like 'Wow, he's got a long way to go.' But we had guys like that last year that by mid-season you're ready to put them in or someone from another team is trying to sign them. So that's kind of a the mindset.
Q: How much time is devoted to places like the AFL and CFL? Where do you find guys, as well as the overseas part of this?
A: I don't know how everyone else does it. I've been with two other teams. But I guess with me being in both those leagues, I don't discriminate. Because I would see guys in those leagues where I would say, "Heck, I was in three NFL training camps. That guy can play. Why is he in this league?' So I just figure we scour those leagues as best we can, and maybe we look at 250 guys and we find three guys that look like suspects. And out of three suspects, one guy can play. Dominique Jones we got from Reading Express in a league that I don't think probably 90 percent of people in this country know exist (Indoor Football League). But he came in here on a tryout, ended up being active our first six games [and] was on our practice squad most of the year. That was one of them. We had Teddy Williams. We had a bunch of guys, and that's a credit to our pro scouts. Part of their job description is to study those other leagues and to get film. And it's not easy, because first of all, it's getting easier with the technology we have and the Internet in being able to upload those things, but the tape quality is always not that good. And some of the places we're trying to dig from, the tape quality is bad. But when you're looking at players at small schools, in the same way in the college evaluation process, it takes patience. And you have to have guys that are willing to grind and each play say 'Is that him?' You can't see the number, so as a scout you have to look at his manners. 'Ok, that guy moves like the guy I'm supposed to be watching' or 'His socks are pulled up a certain height than the other corner on the other side, so that must be him.' So if you have patience and you have a go-getter mindset like I feel like our scouts have, they're gonna find a way to find players. We don't have those guys scout those leagues if we don't want to find anybody. Don't come to me and tell me after you looked at every guy in the CFL, Arena League, the IFL or UFL, don't tell me out of 1000 bodies we can't find three guys have a chance. It's a numbers game.
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the setup of this post. If it receives enough positive feedback, I'll plan on doing a few more throughout the next week.