<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>My <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GMCPlaybook?src=hash">#GMCPlaybook</a> question for <a href="https://twitter.com/SBNation">@SBNation</a>: Does your GM have vision? Grade your front office’s performance this season. <a href="http://t.co/kfiJU12YwC">http://t.co/kfiJU12YwC</a></p>— Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) <a href="https://twitter.com/marshallfaulk/status/545591709166747648">December 18, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Here's Marshall Faulk's question for us this week:
At the end of the day, every GM has the same goal: win a championship. But when you're Professional Grade, it takes vision to build a path toward that goal. Look back at all the moves your front office made this year, and give them a grade. Is your team on the right path?
For us, this question means we get to evaluate Ryan Grigson's performance as Colts' general manager this season. We will get into this more in the offseason, but for now let's look at the prominent moves that Grigson made in the offseason and then hand out a grade for them. Keep in mind that we're looking primarily at this year's moves, so the trade for Trent Richardson a year ago continuing to suck this year doesn't play into our grades here, nor do players signed last year who have stepped up this year (like Ricky Jean Francois or Erik Walden) factor into the grades here either. Also, let's note that we're not grading Grigson on the positions he failed to address but on the moves he actually made. Let's look at both free agency and the draft and see how Grigson has done.
Let's look at the notable players signed and re-signed by Ryan Grigson this offseason:
Mike Adams, safety - Adams was signed late in the offseason and had to compete for a starting spot in training camp, but he has started all fourteen games at safety for the Colts, racking up 74 tackles, 11 pass deflections, five picks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He has been terrific for the Colts this season and was easily the best addition of the offseason for the Colts. Grade: A
Colt Anderson, safety - Anderson was signed partly as safety depth and partially as a special teams player. In the latter area, he has excelled this year. He's been one of the best players on the Colts' tremendous special teams' unit, and so for that I grade this move highly. If Anderson had been brought in as a starter this would be a different conversation, but he's excelled at the role the Colts have used him in. Grade: A
D'Qwell Jackson, inside linebacker - One of the first free agent signings made by Grigson in the offseason, Jackson was a big-name player coming to a team with playoff expectations. He has started all fourteen games at inside linebacker for the Colts, leading the team with 120 tackles while also notching a pass deflection, a forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and a career-best four sacks. At the same time, however, he's a player with limitations and those have shown at times this year. He's been better recently but has been average at best overall this season. Grade: C
Arthur Jones, defensive lineman - One of the biggest moves (in terms of investment) made by Grigson in the offseason was to sign Arthur Jones, a run-stopping defensive lineman. He has missed seven games this year with an injury and is still adjusting to the Colts' defense. He hasn't been that good this year, but I feel it's unfair to assess a grade for Grigson making the move at this point due to Jones' injury earlier this year. Grade: Incomplete
Hakeem Nicks, wide receiver - Simply put, Hakeem Nicks hasn't been good this year. He has no timing with Andrew Luck and struggles to create any separation at all from defensive backs. The grade for this move turns out to not be great, but at the same time keep in mind that it was a one-year, low-risk deal for a receiver who had some great seasons a couple of years ago. It hasn't worked out, but I'm not going to trash Grigson for it because he didn't invest much in Nicks (in other words, this one won't factor very much into the overall grade). Grade: D
Lance Louis, offensive lineman - This move was pretty minor, but Louis has stuck around and started five games for the Colts, playing in seven. He hasn't been great when he plays, but for a low-money deal for a backup offensive lineman, this one wasn't that bad. Grade: B
Vontae Davis, cornerback - The biggest move Ryan Grigson made this offseason was to re-sign cornerback Vontae Davis to a 4-year $36 million deal. Simply put, that looks like a steal now, and that's really all that needs to be said about this one. Davis has been without a doubt one of the best corners in football and this not only stands out as Grigson's biggest move, but his best one as well. Grade: A
Adam Vinatieri, kicker - Grigson also brought back kicker Adam Vinatieri, who is the only perfect kicker in the league this year. He's hit all 28 of his field goal tries this season and has a streak of 34 in a row dating back to last year. He's having arguably the best season of his long career. Once again, a great move by Grigson. Grade: A
Pat McAfee, punter - Another member of the fourth down army, McAfee has been arguably the league's best special teams player this year, as he does everything from punt, kickoff, kick onside kicks, hold for field goals, and make tackles on special teams. Another tremendous re-signing. Grade: A
Ahmad Bradshaw, running back - Ryan Grigson also brought back running back Ahmad Bradshaw after he spent much of the 2013 on injured reserve, and that move worked out incredibly well. Bradshaw was easily one of the most important offensive players for the first nine games of the season, rushing for 425 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry and also adding 38 receptions for 300 yards and six touchdowns. Unfortunately, Bradshaw was lost for the season in week eleven, but when he was healthy he was arguably the most complete back in the league (rushing, receiving, and blocking), and his play is really missed by the Colts now. Grade: A
Draft / Undrafted Free Agents:
Jack Mewhort, offensive lineman - the Colts' second round draft pick has started twelve games for the Colts at left guard and has done a pretty good job there. He has had some struggles, but for a rookie he has done admirably well. He's shown a lot of promise especially as a run blocker and seems to be a part of a tandem (along with left tackle Anthony Castonzo) that will anchor the left side of the Colts' line for years to come. Grade: B
Donte Moncrief, wide receiver - the third round pick by the Colts, Moncrief has seen his playing time really increase recently, and for the season he has caught 27 passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns. He too looks to be a long-term member of the Colts, anchoring their receiver position alongside T.Y. Hilton. Grade: A
Jonathan Newsome, outside linebacker - Newsome, a fifth round draft pick by the Colts, is second on the team in sacks this year behind just Erik Walden with 4.5. He's looked much better as a pass rusher than last year's first round pick Bjoern Werner, and Newsome shows a lot of promise as a pass rush weapon for the Colts. Grade: A
Andrew Jackson, inside linebacker - Jackson, the team's sixth round draft pick, has had some moments and has been used as both a linebacker and a fullback for the Colts, but he hasn't had many opportunities. He looks pretty good in the limited role he has played, however, but for the most part this one is better left incomplete. Grade: Incomplete
Ulrick John, offensive lineman - in the seventh round, Grigson took a developmental tackle in Ulrick John. It's clear that Grigson likes him, but he's missed the entire season while on injured reserve. So this grade is incomplete too. Grade: Incomplete
Undrafted Free Agents - There are four undrafted free agents who have stuck around and are currently on the Colts' roster, which is a good sign. Jonotthan Harrison is the starting center (though not playing that well), Zach Kerr is a backup defensive lineman, safety Dewey McDonald has been doing very well on special teams, and then running back Zurlon Tipton has been playing special teams as well. Overall, Grigson did a pretty good job in this area. Grade: A
There are other moves that Grigson has made that have come during training camp or in-season, perhaps most notably the signings of A.Q. Shipley, Josh Cribbs, and Shaun Phillips, all of which were good moves. All in all, there were areas that Grigson missed in the offseason but ultimately when looking at the moves that he actually did make, it seems he did a pretty good job. I'm on record as having said a number of times that I don't think he's done a great job, and I still think that, but when looking at the moves that he actually made this past offseason, he seems to have done a pretty good job. Of course, the main problems the team has this year were many of the same ones they had last year and perhaps he didn't address some of the positions of need well enough, but the moves that he made seem to be ok for the most part.
What are your thoughts on the job Ryan Grigson did this offseason?