Yesterday, we focused on the positive with the top 10 reasons why Colts fans should be thank Ryan Grigson. The list reminded all of us of some strong moves that led the Colts to three straight 11-5 records and increasingly successful trips to the playoffs.
This is a different list – a list with the opposite intent – to focus upon the Grigson blunders that have rendered this Colts season an aberrational atrocity (an overstatement, but an accurate description of fans’ discontent).
As with anyone whose job it is to build a constantly evolving 53-man roster, practice squad, and shifting draft boards years in advance, there are touchdowns and blocked punts (it felt wrong to use “home runs’ and ‘strikeouts’ in a post about football).
We yammered away yesterday about the great trade for Vontae Davis and drafts of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, and today we will extoll the illogic of the moves that to some extent resulted in the debacle of 2015.
Here are the Top 10 reasons Colts fans critical of Grigson are justified for being so:
1 – The trade of a first-round pick for overweight and slow-footed Trent Richardson. The pick dealt to the Cleveland Browns for Richardson wound up being the 22nd overall in a 2014 draft that will never be remembered among the NFL’s best, but with gaping holes on the offensive line and defensive front, and Richardson was a colossal bust, it still qualifies as a disaster. Regardless of how long Grigson remains GM, he will be remembered for this trade.
2 – Historic misses in sixth and seventh rounds. Here are the players Grigson has drafted in the last two rounds of his four drafts – LaVon Brazill, Justin Anderson, Tim Fugger, Chandler Harnish, John Boyett, Kerwyn Williams, Justice Cunningham, Andrew Jackson, Ulrick John, Josh Robinson, Amarlo Herrera, and Denzelle Good. That’s quite a list. No one expects greatness from sixth and seventh round picks, but I don’t know who most of those guys are. Those I do know, I have not seen do a lot to help the Colts win.
3 – Pep Hamilton was hired to be Chuck Pagano’s offensive coordinator. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe in a managerial hierarchy where assistant coaches report to the head coach. Owner hires a general manager. General manager hires head coach. Head coach hires assistant coaches. Hamilton might have been a solid offensive coordinator or a coach with complex schemes that were rarely executed confidently, but he wasn’t Pagano’s coordinator. As a result, he needed to go. Not because he was bad at his job, but because he wasn’t hired by his direct report.
4 – The 2013 free agent class was a train wreck. Gosder Cherilus, Ricky Jean Francois, Donald Thomas, and LaRon Landry were all signed as a group of veterans who were thought to be the missing ingredients for a run to the Super Bowl. Nearly $100 million was committed to those four players, and none lasted into the 2015 season. Some ceased to function as Colts because of health issues, others never played up to expectations, and Landry brought some of both to the party.
5 – Continued shuffling of offensive line. Continuity of a competent offensive line is one of the keys to consistent and continued offensive success in the NFL. The Colts offensive line continues to be a work in progress. There have been issues caused by injuries, but in his four drafts Grigson has invested exactly zero first round picks on offensive linemen. His o-line picks have been Justin Anderson (208th pick, 2012), Hugh Thornton (86th, 2013), Khaled Holmes (121st, 2013), Jack Mewhort (59th, 2014), Ulrick John (232nd, 2014), and Denzelle Good (255th, 2015) are the offensive linemen drafted by Grigson. Free agents like Todd Herremans (cut yesterday), Gosder Cherilus, A.Q. Shipley, and Donald Thomas have been signed as free agents, but the effect has been an unstable line and injured quarterbacks.
6 – Handling of Chuck Pagano as a lame duck leader caused unrest. If the die was cast prior to the 2015 season, it would have been better for the organization to immediately part ways with Pagano. To the extent it was Grigson’s decision to not extend Pagano, it threw the team into a leadership vacuum that may have doomed the 2015 season.
7 – Minus the obvious use of the #1 pick in 2012, Grigson’s first round picks have not contributed. Maybe Bjoern Werner and Phillip Dorsett will wind up being lynchpins for a championship Colts team, but to this point the past three first round picks (Trent Richardson counting as the third as he was acquired for the 2014 first round pick) have not performed at the level expected of a first rounder. Because they haven’t contributed in a meaningful way, resources were diverted toward holes a different draft strategy might have filled.
Sure, there were only seven reasons on this list of criticisms while there were 10 on the list of reasons to say “Thanks, Ryan,” but that isn’t necessarily an accurate measure of the good and bad. Many of the reasons for criticism combine multiple flawed acts. The 2013 free agent signings are an example of that.
The point of the two lists is to underscore the fact that when a person is in charge, both good and bad happens. There is plenty of ammunition on either side of the debate on the Grigson era in Indianapolis to justify either a positive or negative assessment.
Look at the two lists filled with both positive and negative moves and make your own decision.