The Indianapolis Colts have had a very rough past few weeks.
First, linebacker Josh McNary was charged with rape a few days before the AFC Championship game. Then running back Trent Richardson was suspended prior to the AFC title game for missing a walkthrough, plus offensive lineman Xavier Nixon missed the team flight. Linebacker Andrew Jackson was arrested for DUI later in January. The week after the Super Bowl, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was arrested for assault. And then last week running back Ahmad Bradshaw was cited for marijuana possession and following too close in his vehicle.
That's not what you want for the team just a few weeks into the offseason, and it's clear that it's an issue. "I think we need to do a better job," General Manager Ryan Grigson admitted today during his press conference at the NFL Combine. "I think the culture is a very good one, though. I think we have a strong locker room. I think we have an excellent culture. I think we have very good veteran leadership. The way Reggie and Robert helped congeal this team from the beginning speaks to the veteran leadership we've had in our clubhouse.
"We need to do a better job, but there's also a risk/reward. Do you take a flier on a guy who has very little financial risk but loves football and the hope is always that he'll buy into the culture that you're presenting to him, which is, we think, a very good habitat for players to be at their best, to iron out some of their rough edges and things like that. And some of them have. But again, you know, some of the guys we've struck out on - I guess we need to do a better job in certain areas, and we will."
Head coach Chuck Pagano agreed with Grigson, saying that he's "disappointed" in the off-field issues and that, "we've got to do better. I've got to do a better job." At the same time, however, he noted that they can't be with the players 24/7 and that there are choices that need to be made. Pagano mentioned that his players need to make the choices that reflect well on the horseshoe.
While both Grigson and Pagano noted that they need to do a better job when it comes to the off-field issues and getting the message through to players, there's also a fine line to walk that Grigson talked about.
"If we don't go ahead and go get Jonathan Newsome, even though he had some character issues earlier in his career, there's a chance we don't win in Denver," the GM said. " I mean, he made a critical play in that game. So you can't have your whole roster littered with guys that have off the field stuff, but you also at the same time have to have football players that know how to play and produce and know how to play this game. So it's a difficult balancing act but it's my job to see to it and again we apologize to our fans and our loyal people here in Indy. And we have guys that go off the reservation and make mistakes, but we have roughly 63 guys including the practice squad and so forth and guys that are on IR walking around and they all have free will. They can be model citizens one day and then do something silly.
"We're all human and all make mistakes and it's hard to have such a definitive model to where you you never give someone a second chance. I think that kinda goes against the whole mantra of what our coach talks about, what our organization speaks on, and what we try to portray as a society is that everybody deserves a second chance, maybe not fifth and sixths."
Essentially, what Grigson was saying is that the Colts need to do a better job of finding the balance between not having a whole locker room full of questionable character guys but at the same time getting talented football players, some who might have off-field concerns. He notes the example of Jonathan Newsome as one player that worked out for the Colts.
Grigson is also right in that the Colts have a strong locker room and strong leadership in that locker room, but unfortunately the off-field issues have overshadowed that recently. And for that, both Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano took responsibility and said that they need to do a better job, while at the same time acknowledging that the individual players are ultimately responsible for their own actions.