Lost in the midst of Chuck Pagano's contract extension tonight is the fact that owner Jim Irsay also announced a contract extension with general manager Ryan Grigson, saying that Grigson and Pagano are "contractually tied."
Something that Irsay said about Grigson, however, has piqued the interest of many, as it should. Basically, Irsay is saying that Ryan Grigson has had a better start to his tenure with the franchise than Bill Polian did.
"When I look at the old regime, the old era," Irsay said, "you look at those first four years and you have two out of four seasons that were losing seasons. You have no playoff wins, and again, that's with a Hall of Fame quarterback [Peyton Manning] and a Hall of Fame general manager [Bill Polian] now. And these guys [Grigson and Pagano] have surpassed that in their first four years. We hadn't won a playoff game in the first four years of our old era."
Lest you think this was just some inadvertent statement that was taken out of context, Jim Irsay said the same thing later in the press conference. "What we did in the first four years," Irsay said, "Bill Polian is going to the Hall of Fame. Ryan's outdone him."
So what you have is the owner of the franchise saying that the guy he just extended - who was at risk of being fired - is doing a better job than a Hall of Famer who completely turned the franchise around. It was a completely unwarranted shot at the old regime that Irsay keeps trying to distance himself from for whatever reason and a statement that doesn't have a lot of truth to it.
When you look at the results, Irsay is right. And that's why, with the first statement, it's ok to think that it was taken out of context. During Bill Polian's first four years with the team, the Colts went 32-32 (.500) with one division title, two playoff appearances, and an 0-2 playoff record. During Ryan Grigson's first four years with the team, the Colts went 41-23 (.641) with two division titles, three playoff appearances, and a 3-3 playoff record. Technically, what Irsay said is completely accurate: when you're looking at the results on the field and especially if you're looking at playoff results, the new era for the Colts is off to a more successful start than the old one.
But when Irsay repeated that claim, saying that Ryan Grigson has "outdone" Bill Polian through the first four years, that's when the statement became utterly confusing and laughable. In Polian's first four years with the team, he brought in quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James, center Jeff Saturday, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, offensive lineman Ryan Diem, and others. The moves made during those years set the Colts up for a run of success in the 2000s that was, quite frankly, unprecedented in NFL history. The architect behind that was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and is widely considered one of the greatest executives in league history. What has Ryan Grigson done in his first four years? He's made some very good moves, to be sure, such as bringing in quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, cornerback Vontae Davis, and others, but his resume isn't quite to the level of Polian's yet.
Jim Irsay is absolutely right to suggest that this new era of Colts football is off to a more successful on-field start than the previous era of Colts football, but he's completely inaccurate in saying that Ryan Grigson has "outdone" Bill Polian while doing so. To suggest otherwise is to simply do the same thing that Irsay did: take a needless and inaccurate shot at the architect of the old era on a night completely devoted to the new one.