The Indianapolis Colts stole headlines tonight by firing offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, a move that certainly seems to paint him as a scapegoat but one that was justified and needed. Rob Chudzinski, the Colts' special assistant to head coach Chuck Pagano, now takes over for Hamilton and will try to right a sinking ship and help quarterback Andrew Luck and the offense get things figured out - and as quickly as possible.
It's possible, though, that one of the biggest obstacles that Chudzinski encounters in his quest to do that could be general manager Ryan Grigson. According to the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder, it sounds like Grigson's continuous meddling in the roles normally relegated to coaches handcuffed Hamilton somewhat. Here's what Holder wrote Tuesday night:
"Additionally, one of the issues that still exists is involvement by the front office in the coaching staff's decision-making, up to and including lineup decisions. Grigson, multiple sources say, is still heavily influencing moves on the coaching side, particularly on offense. Hamilton's performance appears to have been affected by some of those outside decisions, making it difficult to know what is attributable to him and what isn't."
This isn't anything new from Grigson. He was heavily involved in the decision to change centers last season, has reportedly been influential in other decisions in determining who plays, and even reportedly was the one who hired Pep Hamilton for Chuck Pagano's staff. In other words, it has long been reported and assumed that Ryan Grigson is involved much more than is normally acceptable for a general manager, particularly one with Grigson's pedigree (having only been a general manager for a few years and not exactly having a stellar record, either).
Many have wondered whether Grigson's influence over decisions like this has decreased this year with his own job in jeopardy, but it sounds like that's not the case. Instead, it sounds like Grigson is very involved with aspects of the team typically left to coaches (Holder notes it has been particularly on the offensive side of the ball), which may have handcuffed Hamilton a bit as to how much control he had and how much he could do. It's hard, then, to understand completely how much Hamilton is to blame. He still didn't impress and is in no way blameless, but perhaps it wasn't all him, either.
Holder also notes that Grigson is "not acting independently" and has the backing of owner Jim Irsay. It's commonly known that Grigson is close with the Irsay family, and apparently Jim Irsay has in turn given Grigson a ton of control - basically to control whatever he wants, it sounds like. The problems, in other words, go all the way to the top with this Colts team, and it's a mess in large part because Jim Irsay has enabled it to become so.
FOX59's Charly Arnolt reported tonight that Grigson's job "is safe for this season" and that he won't be fired mid-year, but the more we hear about this situation, the more it sounds like the root of the problem might be coming from above the coaching staff and Chuck Pagano. Pagano and Hamilton are certainly not without blame and have done enough to warranted being fired, but if Ryan Grigson really is controlling things as much as some of these reports suggest, it looks more and more like Hamilton (and perhaps soon Pagano) are simply scapegoats as Grigson tries to save his own job.