clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stampede Blue Tweetbag: Talking Ryan Grigson, Chuck Pagano, Greg Manusky, and More

Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson answers questions about the Colts submitted via twitter.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Answering your twitter questions about the Colts:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> what do you think they could do to improve against good teams and qbs?</p>&mdash; Matthew Roberts (@mattrobertsypr) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Simply put: they need better players.  Outside of Vontae Davis, the Colts don't have a great player on the defense (and Robert Mathis, if he comes back and is healthy).  Greg Toler was up and down this year (I think he's a solid corner but nothing special and he'll get beat some), and Darius Butler in the slot does great at what the Colts ask him to do.  But the front seven really wasn't a force at all and that needs to change.  The Colts couldn't get pressure without blitzing, and that's something that will be exposed against good offenses.  And their safeties, while Mike Adams was definitely a positive this year, could be upgraded too (especially LaRon Landry).  Against the Patriots, I have to think the coaches knew what was coming, because everyone else certainly did.  The Colts' defense just couldn't stop the run once again against a good offense.  Is that oversimplifying it?  Yeah, and the Colts did get outcoached.  But the biggest issue with the defense is one of talent, and so for them to start having consistent success against the good teams they need more help personnel-wise.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> fire pagano? Promote pep? Fire Manusky? Grigson on the hot seat? Why and why not?</p>&mdash; David (@Davididnt) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

I've received some variation of this question more times than I can count since the Colts' game ended on Sunday night. And I get it - after an embarrassing loss fans are tired of seeing the team get dominated once again by the Patriots, especially with a staff that hasn't yet convinced many fans.  But before we even start our discussion, let me say this: don't expect any changes any time soon.  This team just made the AFC Championship game just three years after a complete rebuild, and that fast rebuild also bought time.  Now, next season, if the Colts don't make the playoffs but even if they do and aren't impressive whatsoever, we could see changes made.  But this staff has earned a fourth year considering what they've done, and I don't mind that either.  I know that everyone reading this site with regularity realizes that I'm not the biggest fan of either Ryan Grigson as a general manager or Chuck Pagano as a head coach, but I also think that it's totally fair for both of them to be coming back, as will happen.  When it comes to Pagano, I actually think he did a good job this year.  He made some of the strides forward that we wanted to see from him personally as a coach, and his defense took strides forward as well (though still getting dominated by good teams, like we saw Sunday).  And it's beyond clear that his players absolutely love him (and that's not hard to see why, either).  While I still have some questions about Pagano's coaching, firing him this offseason would only make him a scapegoat for what I see as a bigger problem with the Colts, which I'll get to in the next question.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Will Irsay hold some accountability on Grigson for his lackluster FA signings and sub-par drafting? We were embarassed.</p>&mdash; Brian Hammond (@BH112185) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

If you were to ask me what I thought the bigger problem was with the Colts this year between construction or coaching, I would be firmly in the first category.  I can point out flaws in the coaching staff and in the job they did this season, but I ultimately think the staff did a pretty good job overall, all things considered.  And part of the reason why I think they did a good job?  I don't think they were handed a super talented team.  Look, I know that Colts fans will be quick to point out the talent the team does have - and of course they do have talent.  And I know that Grigson defenders will be quick to point out the moves that he did hit on - and there have been a good number of those.  Maybe it's the "glass half full or glass half empty" thing on which side of it you look at, but I'm trying to look at both sides: and I don't think the overall talent level of this team was that great.  Andrew Luck is great.  Vontae Davis is great.  T.Y. Hilton is awesome, and the special teams units were great.  But the Colts also had an offensive line that struggled to protect Luck for much of the season (though it looked better in the playoffs).  They had a group of receivers that really couldn't get any separation whatsoever against New England.  They had running back questions, and Trent Richardson still didn't do much.  Their front seven was average at best.  The team lacked depth at cornerback, and the safety position was still a question mark.  And then the pass rush was nonexistent without blitzes.  Some of those things were due to injuries and circumstances that Grigson couldn't have controlled, so it's hard to fault him for that (he didn't know that Mathis would miss the entire season, for example).  But I don't think this was an overly talented team outside of a few spots, and I think that if you want to play the blame game, it should start with the Colts' general manager.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> How long will Irsay take to fire Manusky? Do you see them bringing in V Fangio or W Phillips? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Steve Cardenas (@Steve_Cardenas) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

This goes back to the question about Chuck Pagano in many ways, but let me just say this: in no way do I think that Greg Manusky should be fired this season.  In fact, entering the 2014 season I was very uncertain of Manusky and whether he was a good defensive coordinator.  I really didn't know and hadn't been impressed much during the first two years.  But I can tell you that I actually think much more highly of Manusky the coach after this season than I did before it - even after a number of ugly losses.  I think he got this defense to overachieve based on the talent that they had on the field.  Take, for example, the pass rush.  Robert Mathis entered the season as the second most important player on the Colts' roster, having been far and away their best defensive player a year ago and someone who could single-handily change a game.  At first the Colts thought they'd have to play just the first four games without him, but due to injury, they were forced to play without Mathis - their second best and most important player overall behind only Andrew Luck - for the entire season.  The Colts played 19 games without a legitimate individual pass rush threat.  Guys like Jonathan Newsome and Erik Walden both stepped up and helped, but the pass rush was mostly manufactured this season through calls dialed up by Manusky.  If you had told me before the season that the Colts would rank eleventh in the league in yards per game allowed, win eleven games, win the division, and win two playoff games and make it to the AFC Championship game without Robert Mathis, I'd have taken it in a second.  I think Greg Manusky did a heck of a coaching job this season, and I think the bad losses we saw had more to do with the talent level than the coaching, as I think Manusky got this defensive unit to overachieve.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Upset vs Colts made Broncos change whole staff. Why that embarassing loss changed nothing at Indy? When will changes begin?</p>&mdash; Danilo Higa (@danilohiga) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Last question about the coaching staff, and it's about why the Broncos changed their whole staff while it doesn't seem like the Colts will change anything (and they won't).  But in actuality, there are a lot of differences in the two scenarios that make it much more than just a "Super Bowl or bust" mentality that would or should translate to other franchises, like the Colts.  Firstly, it sounds like there was a disagreement in philosophy between John Fox and John Elway that ultimately led to the two sides parting ways.  There's not nearly as much disagreement in philosophy between Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson - now, thinking about how to get there and actually getting there are two very different things, but for the most part the Colts are perfectly in line philosophically.  Secondly, keep in mind that John Fox had four seasons with the Broncos while Chuck Pagano has had only three with the Colts.  And while no major moves will happen this year, if they're still in a similar situation after next season they might.  Third, the Broncos have to be in "win now" mode.  Of course, this all depends on whether Peyton Manning will return or not, but he's a 37-year old quarterback.  When the Broncos signed him (and then made a host of other moves to build the team), it was clear that they expected Super Bowl or bust.  For the Colts, while they certainly have their goal of winning the Super Bowl, Andrew Luck is 25 years old.  The Colts will get there, and most likely multiple times, with Luck at quarterback, and they'll be hoisting the Lombardi trophy at some point, probably soon.  So the last point I'll highlight here is that the attitude of the two franchises were very different and had to be, considering the ages of their quarterbacks.  In other words, it's easy to look at the situation in Denver and compare it to the Colts, but I don't think they're that similar.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> would you rather have the colts lose like they did? Or how Green Bay did?</p>&mdash; Dylan Celone (@dylancelone) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

As a fan, I'd probably rather them get blown out to be honest.  I can understand both sides, as if you're close you can at least take some solace in the fact that they were close to winning the game or at least looked like they belonged in the game.  But if you lose a close game in the fashion the Packers did?  They had that game won and they completely blew it.  Sure, give the Seahawks credit for making the plays when it counted, but the Packers flat out blew it.  I'd be ticked off at the coaching staff, first and foremost, because the Packers' coaches did not do a good job in that game.  And then the players couldn't hold on to a lead, making awful mistakes to help Seattle get back in it.  So yeah, as a fan, I think the way the Packers lost was much worse than the way the Colts lost.  I mean, I can't even imagine what it feels like to have a player's dropped onside kick turn out to be the pivotal moment in a huge playoff game your favorite team lost… oh, wait.  Nevermind.  Yeah, I can.  And it sucks.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="">@Coltsfanwilson</a> -D Line clearly an issue. Not big, strong or nasty enuff. Any chance Colts go after Suh?</p>&mdash; T (@songbirrd) <a href="">January 20, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

No.  I don't see any way the Colts go after Ndamukong Suh.  It seems likely that he'll be a free agent this offseason, and he is among the best defensive linemen in the game - which, you're right, is a position of need for the Colts.  But simply put, the Colts wouldn't have the cap space to bring in Suh.  Not with a massive Andrew Luck deal coming, extensions for other key players such as T.Y. Hilton, Anthony Castonzo, and others on the horizon, plus other guys to re-sign and sign this offseason, the Colts won't have the cap space to sign a guy like Suh to a huge deal.  We could look at other reasons why it won't happen, but we don't really have to go any further than that: the Colts, while having plenty of cap space right now, don't have the room to go out and sign Suh with all the other deals they'll be handing out in the next few years.  But, while it won't be Suh, I do expect the Colts to address the defensive line this offseason.