Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson met with the media today for his press conference to wrap up the Colts' season, and he was asked about the two players who the Colts have used their last two first round picks to obtain. First it was about running back Trent Richardson, who the Colts acquired in a trade last season, and Grigson confirmed that Richardson was suspended for two games before the Patriots game for personal reasons.
But Grigson was also asked about last year's first round pick, outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, who was also inactive for the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. And he said that it was because the team was trying to get him healthy, plus they needed extra cornerbacks.
"That's easy to clarify guys," Grigson said when asked about it. "It more or less ended up being a game time decision. Coach [Chuck Pagano] and I, we talked to Bjoern, both of us did. He had been playing, and his production and what he was doing on the field was definitely incrementally rising, and he was making plays, playing with a lot of energy. His get off looked good. He was getting some pressures. But he was making plays. And he definitely had improved from year one to year two. He had been working through some things - some dings - and he had slowed down. And the thought behind that was, you have two corners that didn't practice all week. So you have Jalil [Brown] sitting there as a six-foot corner that ran 4.4 [40 yard dash] that can play outside and can help on teams as a vice and can do some things on special teams for you.
"And in the meantime, you're planning on hopefully getting into that next game. Then you're able to give Bjoern two weeks rest to where he can get back to maybe playing like that guy we saw the first half of the season. So that was really the thought process through that. It wasn't that we're not happy with Bjoern Werner, it's just that we wanted to get him back to the Bjoern that was playing at a higher level."
With all due respect to Ryan Grigson, players aren't "game time decisions" when they're too injured to play in the AFC Championship game. And I get that the Colts thought that they were going to make the Super Bowl, but if you really thought that Werner was going to help you, why not play him so you could even get there? If the Colts really wanted to get him healthy - so much so that they didn't play him in the AFC Championship game - then he wouldn't have been a game time decision.
Ultimately, this sounds like an excuse. Simply put, Bjoern Werner would not have been inactive if he had been playing well. He had been really struggling, however, having gone the last ten games he played without recording a single sack. He notched four within a three week span earlier in the season and was looking like he was figuring things out, but outside of those three weeks, he didn't have a sack all season long. Was it because he was dealing with injuries? Maybe that was a part of it, but he was playing through it nonetheless. The bottom line is that Bjoern Werner was inactive against the Patriots. Ryan Grigson said that it was because they were trying to get him healthy and that they needed extra cornerbacks, but at the same time, he hadn't been producing recently. It's clear that Grigson and the Colts haven't yet given up on Werner, but the General Manager isn't fooling anyone with his comments today. It was a disappointing season for Werner, and that was capped off by him being inactive for the AFC Championship game.