Colts head coach Chuck Pagano could take some lessons from general manager Ryan Grigson regarding how to be honest about a player in a positive way.
If you recall, Pagano wanted absolutely no part of discussing the Colts’ offensive line or the struggles of left tackle Anthony Castonzo a few weeks ago, only saying that the team was focused on the Packers. That’s the way Pagano choose to handle the situation, but Grigson handled it differently on Tuesday during a radio interview on 1070 the Fan.
Asked whether he’s concerned about Castonzo, Grigson admitted that it hasn’t been the best season for their left tackle but still did so in a positive way that wasn’t just ripping Castonzo.
“Well, I mean, heck, he’s been up and down, but the talent’s there, and I know the will is there,” Grigson said, according to Colts.com. “And he had a heck of a game in Green Bay, so he’s got to build off of that. And Anthony, Anthony is a super harsh critic on himself; he’s just got to go out there and play football and not worry about anything else. And he did last week, so I just hope he keeps doing it — and that’s what we pay him to do.”
He was then asked a follow-up question regarding Castonzo and how - like Andrew Luck - you shouldn’t have to worry about Castonzo as your left tackle.
“In this league, in this league, you never just don’t worry, but I think Anthony knows,” Grigson said. “He’s someone that you don’t have to even tell, I mean, he’s someone that knows the level he needs to play at, and for for us to be successful, he’s got to be consistent. I mean, that’s just the facts. He knows that.”
Truthfully, it has indeed been a very up and down season for the Colts’ left tackle. He’s played in every game, but it hasn’t always been good every game. While there have been times where Castonzo plays at a high level and does his job, there have been just as many (if not more) times where he struggles and is a liability. The struggles go back to last year too, making it much more of a concern than a one-year thing. Castonzo was a fine left tackle in 2014, but way too often recently he’s been a liability more than a strength. The Colts surely know that too, and Grigson’s comments clearly indicate that they don’t think Castonzo is playing too well, though it seems positive in thinking that he can improve and build off of what success he does have (like the Packers game, Grigson mentioned). The key for him is consistency, which Grigson mentioned.
Make no mistake, though: Ryan Grigson is optimistic about the team’s offensive line as a whole.
“Definitely,” Grigson said earlier in the interview when asked if he’s comfortable with their offensive line. “I just think that, of course the guys have to be consistent; guys have to be consistent and play well week-to-week. We can’t have a roller coaster ride of performances with that group. That group has to be sound and cohesive. You know, we’ve got a lot of young players playing up front, and it’s great to see the [Joe] Haeg’s of the world and [Ryan] Kelly. It’s been tough not having [Jack] Mewhort in there, because he’s playing as well as anyone on that line, as well as Kelly. So it’d be nice to be able to have guys in there for a handful of weeks to see where we could really go with that group — and I personally, really since I’ve been here, really you just see out of your periphery, you see with the run game, just the way we’re executing and blocking things up, it just looks different. I feel like the arrow was definitely up in our run game. That’s something that I’m kind of excited about moving forward.”
In other words, Grigson likes some of the pieces that are in place, and he’s absolutely right in those feelings. Center Ryan Kelly and left guard Jack Mewhort have both had good seasons, and Joe Haeg has really emerged as a versatile lineman who figures to have a place with the team for the foreseeable future. Then you add in Castonzo at left tackle (who when he’s good is a fine player at the position) and Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good as other pieces, and suddenly you can begin to see how there’s reason for optimism for this group. They’re still very much a work in progress, but at least they’ve got some pieces in place.