On Monday evening Colts general manager Ryan Grigson joined 1070 the Fan’s Colts Roundtable to discuss the previous game, and that was true once again this week.
The Colts lost 22-17 to the Texans on Sunday to almost guarantee that they will be watching the playoffs from home, but Grigson still fielded questions from fans about the team and Sunday’s game. Here’s a summary of what he had to say:
- Starting off talking about the injuries the Colts suffered on Sunday and the three players they placed on IR on Monday, Grigson said it adds insult to injury from that loss, as they lost some really good players and some guys that not only play their tails off but who really, really care. He said that those three guys all really, really care and have worked real hard and have helped contribute to winning football for the Colts.
- One of the guys the Colts signed yesterday was safety Duke Williams, and Grigson was asked about him. He said that Williams is a guy who ran well coming out of Reno and who is a dual-safety, as he’s got flex and fits a free safety or a strong safety type of mold. Williams has played quite a number of snaps in this league, and the Colts worked him out last week with another player, and Grigson said it seemed like the right fit for them at this time with the injuries they’ve had. He said that Clayton Geathers is someone they feel is “on the edge of greatness” and losing him is a tremendous blow, but they have to move on. Grigson said it’s hard to see Geathers not play because he was coming off of a strong performance versus Tennessee, and the play he made on DeMarco Murray was “special” and Grigson doesn’t know many in this league who would make that type of play.
- Asked a follow-up question about Geathers and how he’s always around and cares about the game, Grigson said those are the types of guys that hit the ground running when they come back, which is no different than when Geathers came back from the fracture in his foot. Grigson said Geathers is so dialed in at practice every day even though he’s injured and is taking those reps visually, and he said the Colts have had a lot of players and you can kind of tell a lot of times who’s really dialed in out there. Grigson mentioned T.Y. Hilton in his rookie year when he was out with a hip flexor, and even as a rookie he was always an example Grigson thought of because he was next to Reggie Wayne every day making sure he’s taking mental reps, asking questions, and as a rookie was able to shrink the learning curve like Geathers did when he was out. Now Geathers has the whole offseason to be out, which is tough for a guy like that because he wants to be out there competing with his brothers.
- Regarding the pass rush without Robert Mathis, Grigson said it’s tough having Mathis out but Trent Cole and Erik Walden are both roughneck players and both have a similar style. They’re not elite edge rush speed guys but they just battle their way to getting pressure and they’re great in the run game, so both are making plays and both are making their presence felt on three downs. Grigson said especially Cole, who’s coming off of injury, in the last two games played really well and he’s happy with where both of those guys are going.
- Asked about the fourth down play call, Grigson said the game was a painful, painful loss but they’ve got to get over it real soon. As for the play call, he said that’s a Coach Pagano question. He said he doesn’t prep and prepare schematically and do those types of things as a general manager, so that’s a Coach question. After Bob Lamey added a thought, Grigson said that if the ball lands in Turbin’s hands and he falls foreword and got so much juice, “we’ll never know what would have happened if he had caught it, but I’d like to think Robert Turbin gets that first down because he usually does.” So Grigson said he’s going to support what their coach decides, as again, that’s not in his wheelhouse.
- Regarding the Colts being inconsistent, Grigson said that the whole season has been about those little things, and controlling those things they can control whether it be drops or missed tackles or penalties or so forth. He mentioned that they’ve been in about every game until the final minutes of all their games except for Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but the rest they’ve been in them all. He said that if you take care of the little things the big things take care of themselves, and you can’t make repeated errors and these players all know that. Grigson said the players are really hard on themselves, and he said the Colts ended up suffering the consequences of not taking care of their business and that consequence is losing a home game to be in first place in the division. “It stings like no other, but we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
- Asked about why Lamar Miller was so tough to defend, Grigson said, “he’s a heck of a running back.” Grigson also said that their two inside linebackers (Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison) played “really, really hard” and have a lot to learn still and there’s no way around that and the Colts knew going in that they were going to make mistakes, but their physicality, effort, and tenacity led him to say “we saw a lot of positives out of those players, we really did.” He said that the Colts shouldn’t have given up that many yards but they did and there’s nothing they can do about it now.
- Asked if he’s noticing offensive line improvement, Grigson said that they gave up way too many hits yesterday, but gave up just one sack. In four of the last five games they’ve given up no more than two sacks. But Grigson said that they’ve got to be better and they’ve got to pick up stunts and free rushers with more consistency, and he said that continuity is something that would be nice to have game-to-game, but everyone in this league has to battle through that. He said that it’s a war of attrition going on with the 32 clubs. He said that he still firmly believes that this group is going to be where they need them to be, and there are some young guys up there and some players who are moving around. He mentioned that he got a tidbit on Sunday that Joe Haeg is the first rookie since Kyle Turley in 1998 to start at three different offensive line positions, which speaks to his versatility - which is pretty amazing, Grigson said, as Turley was a first round pick, so Haeg has more than done a good job as a rookie. Grigson mentioned that Ryan Kelly had some plays on Sunday that he’s sure the center would like to take back, but he’s going to be fine. Grigson said that offensive lines are something that’s gained with experience and you’ll build cohesion, and he thinks this is going to be a rock solid group at some point.
- Asked what he’s seen from Hassan Ridgeway, Grigson said that he’s a big, big, strong guy. Grigson said that Ridgeway hasn’t been able to finish on two sacks, mentioning that against Tennessee he couldn’t quite finish. On Sunday, though, Ridgeway blew through three blockers on that play and then he finished and got the sack. Grigson said the arrow is up on Ridgeway. He mentioned that Ridgeway, T.J. Green, the two inside linebackers (Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison), and Clayton Geathers make up a nice little nucleus of young defensive players. He said that the defense as a whole on Sunday forced five field goals and played really, really hard, and though they gave up too many yards on the ground he thought they were pretty good in coverage for the most part. He said they’ve got to be better but that there are some good young players to build on.
- Regarding Edwin Jackson and how much the loss of D’Qwell Jackson impacts things, Grigson pointed out that Edwin Jackson led the team in tackles with ten on Sunday, and he’s a tackle machine and always has been. Grigson said that Morrison did really well too, and he played faster in space, looked more aware in coverage, and that just comes with experience. He said that’s where the D’Qwell Jackson thing has a big effect. Now you have no familiarity with who’s calling the huddle and you have someone else doing it, so it’s all an adjustment that all the other players on defense have to come under. Grigson said they have to, as they have no choice to, but it’s a bit of a transition and D’Qwell Jackson has been doing it for so long and has been productive for so long that there’s going to be a void at certain areas that these young guys can’t fill because of that lack of experience. But Grigson said those two guys (Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison) just flew around on Sunday and said the Colts like the energy they bring.
- The highlight of the show in my opinion came from a caller named Tim who somehow slipped through to ask this question on-air: “How do you scheme for getting punched in the mouth, and why is it the coach’s fault?” Grigson struggled to answer that at first, repeating, “Why is it the coach’s fault?” before Bob Lamey cut in and said, “Umm, I’m not sure it is.” Grigson then laughed and said, “I don’t know where that came from,” and Lamey then re-phrased the question to ask about how you bounce back from a tough loss. Grigson answered that one, saying that they have no choice but to. He said they’ve always played hard no matter what and always bounced back every season he’s been here with Pagano, so he doesn’t expect any different. He said they play their best with their backs against the wall, and it clearly is cemented against the wall now, but it’s not going to help if they make the same kind of mistakes. No matter how fired up they are going out there and no matter how great of a practice week they have - and Grigson said they had a great week last week - it just doesn’t matter if you go out there and make mistakes. So he said they win and lose as a team, period, and they keep on trucking.
- In closing, Bob Lamey mentioned that it’s supposed to be super cold in Minnesota for this weekend’s game, and then picked up on the theme of how this is a resilient team. Grigson said that at first he had forgotten what the playing situation was up there in Minnesota (they play in a dome) and his first reaction was that it’s a great chance to show they don’t play like a dome team and take it like a challenge. 14 degrees below, it doesn’t matter, they’re going to go up there and play this team nose-to-nose, and he said the Vikings are a heck of a football team and that the Colts know that. So he said no one’s going to fold their tent around here.