I'm a fan of Ryan Grigson, on the whole. He made a lot of good moves last year and whilst I didn't like free agency or the draft this time, I do still think he's a good general manager. However, as with all GM's in the NFL, Grigson has made his fair share of bad and ugly moves during his reign in Indianapolis.
- Trading for Vontae Davis: His first season was a little up and down, but bar two bad games against Houston and St. Louis, Davis has been excellent this season. A 2nd round pick looked a little steep at the time, but his play in 2013 certainly merits a new contract. There is still some work to be done with Davis, but he's certainly one of the better corners in the NFL.
- Drafting Andrew Luck: This sounds a bit obvious, but hold on there. At the time of the draft, a lot of analysts were calling for Robert Griffin III to be the #1 pick, not Andrew Luck. Grigson ignored the Heisman hype over Griffin and chose Luck, and right now, it looks to be the perfect decision.
- Drafting Dwayne Allen: Does anybody not love Dwayne Allen? A fantastic blocker and receiver at tight end, Allen was an undoubted steal in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and he's also a very likeable character too. When the pick was made I can't say I was a fan, having seen us take Coby Fleener a round earlier, but it's now apparent why they made the move to get both.
- Trading up to draft T.Y. Hilton: I didn't even know who Hilton was in 2012 – it was my first draft as a fan and I wasn't as knowledgeable on the mid-round prospects – but Hilton has proven himself more than worthy of the third round selection. A danger to score whenever he gets the ball, Hilton will hopefully be part of this offense for years to come.
- Signing Jerrell Freeman from the CFL: Since being picked up from the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL, Freeman has established himself as the best inside linebacker on the roster. A tackling machine, Freeman is Grigson's biggest find so far.
- The Jerry Hughes trade: I have some level of sympathy here. Hughes was given a chance under two regimes in Indy and never really impressed, at least not to the level he is in Buffalo. Grigson traded the 2010 first round pick for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, who has been a huge disappointment, with just nine snaps in the last three games. Hughes on the other hand has six sacks and a bunch of QB pressures. It's easy to see why Grigson traded him, it just doesn't look great right now.
- Late round draft picks: I'm a fan of taking “damaged” players late on. In 2012 I wanted Alfonzo Dennard and Vontaze Burfict in the 7th round, and in 2013 the apple of my eye was Da'Rick Rogers, who is now a Colt after going undrafted. They all had talent, and with 6th/7th round picks, few make the roster anyway so I believe in taking a chance. Grigson's 6th/7th round picks so far have been LaVon Brazill (suspended for the first four games this season), Justin Anderson (IR again), Tim Fugger (cut before last season), Chandler Harnish (cut, then placed on practice squad), John Boyett (cut), Kerwynn Williams (cut) and Justice Cunningham (bouncing been active and practice rosters). It's not a huge deal, but maybe the Colts could do with more from their later picks.
- Trent Richardson trade: I know, its early days but this has been an absolute disaster. Grigson gave up a first round pick for Richardson, who is averaging 2.8 yards per carry. That's not good enough, and the trade also meant A) They believed they needed to run to win, B) They thought running back was the biggest hole on the roster and C) that a first round pick for Richardson was too good to be true. So far, Grigson has been proven very wrong.
- Failing to improve the interior OL: Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn are STILL starting for the Colts, despite horrendous 2012 seasons. Grigson signed Donald Thomas, who unfortunately ended up on IR, whilst mid-round picks Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes have struggled with either performance or injury based issues. I was gutted when Chargers OG Louis Vasquez went to Denver, because he was a perfect fit for our offense. With the Broncos, Vasquez has yet to give up a sack or even a hit. What could've been...
- Overpaying free agents: I actually think Gosder Cherilus has had a good season. Laron Landry has played well when healthy and Ricky Jean Francois has been fairly solid. However, the contracts given to Greg Toler, Erik Walden and Darrius Heyward-Bey (admittedly only one year here) don't look great now. Toler is struggling with injuries and has been beaten regularly when he played, whilst Walden still isn't worth his 4 year, $16m contract despite a couple of decent displays.
For those in the comments defending the TRich trade, I feel that even if Richardson had played at a good level, he still wouldn't have been worth a first. Like Nate, I believe no running back is worth a first round selection.
In terms of paying the FA's, as mentioned when they were signed, the Colts can opt out early from these deals considering that they are front loaded without taking a huge hit.
On a side note, I still feel Hughes should have stayed . I hated the trade for Sheppard and felt Hughes did develop slightly last year .Had he stayed on the roster, I felt he could have been a decent spell every now and then for Mathis
I would put Davis in the bad column. His passer rating against is around 100. By no metric is he one of the better corners in the NFL.
Mostly agree with everything. But this "overpay" thing always gets me. What does it really mean? Is it value of a player per game? If you can judge overpaying right now, then we really over paid for Thomas and Bradshaw. If it's over the life of the contract, then we have to wait to see if their performance was worth it. I'd rather leave the dollar value to the accountants and judge a guy by what he does on the field. No matter how much he's paid. JMO.
I would add that the re-signing of both Mathis and Wayne should be included in The Good.
You got this down to a science. He has look good and bad on certain transactions. I wish he had spent the money on sure things like Vasquez or Levitre. I would have liked Wallace cause look what happened to Wayne. Walden has played decent, but the money could have been spent better. Toler and DHB are big time busts, and Landry is an injury waiting to happen a la Bob Sanders.
Nicely done. For the most part he gets a passing grade--how else do you turn a 2-14 team into an 11-5 team in one season, and a division winner the next? it's not ALL Luck (capital L). They're a solid team, still coming together.
As much as I thought it was a good move two months ago, I think the Richardson trade might be the only REAL blemish here because even though the money was not bad, the long-term implication of missing out on a first rounder is pretty big (unless we planned to trade him to Buffalo for a sack of groceries in a couple seasons anyway!). Unless there are warning flags (Bradshaw's medical rap sheet), you can't really blame him for injuries to Thomas and Toler. The vast majority of signings have been positive on the field (if not superstars), but when you balance the field and the bank account, like Walden's deal, there is certainly room for improvement. NO idea why Satele and McGlynn are still there--they must fit somebody's ideal, even if it's not obvious to us.
I knew Hughes was improving last year but had no idea he was doing so well in Buffalo! Dang!
I don't know if we could have absorbed too many troubled but talented kids. A really settled, senior football team with a lot of established veteran leaders can probably handle 2-3 wayward talents a year to see if they work, but when Gigson started, this was a whole new ballgame--even most of the vets were not really established Colts. You can't expect Reggie, Antoine, and Robert to carry the entire leadership load and still perform. Maybe in a year or two we can draft the Burficts and Matthieus (Matthieux?) of the world. I hope so.
If he keeps signing the Jerrell Freemans of the world (Freemen?) I'm, happy.
For the most part, I agree with you, Olly. However, I would add that Hughes played very well last year and even PFF took notice. I'm disappointed that the Colts did not recognize what they had. Now, he is a major piece in Buffalo. I think calling RJF "solid" is probably accurate. I'm just not sure the Colts are in a better position with him versus keeping Nevis for a lot less money.
I was also baffled by the Colts drafting Allen but what an awesome pick! Wish he was still around.
I would like to mention one deal I, personally, would add:
The Good: Signing Cory Redding. He is the only Colt who can bring consistent pressure on the inside but his leadership and energy are probably his most important qualities.
To early to say the Richardson trade was ugly, but if he doesn't become a top 5 RB, why waste a 1st round pick. Running backs are easy to find later in the draft and they have a short shelf life. We could use that 1st round pick for a center/guard to make holes. I agree though in general Grigson scored an A in 2012 and currently I would give him a C for 2013. The bright side is who expected the Colts to make the playoffs in both 2012 and looking good for 2013 after 2-14 in 2011. The Colts will have some CAP room for 2014 so if we get the injured guys back 2014 looks promising.
@Nate Dunlevy I guess you put no stock in PFF's ratings, then? Davis is ranked as their 8th best overall CB and 4th best in coverage.
At best, passer rating against is an extremely flawed metric.
@Roofio Good call!
@bradicus18 Great note on Redding. He's been well worth it.
@Luck y for us The first thing you did after say it's too early to judge the Richardson trade was say exactly why the Richardson trade was bad.
@Roofio @Nate Dunlevy No argument there on passer rating, however, even when you dig into to PFF's ratings, you see how bad he's been more often than not. Their scout grades hinge on two games (Denver and Jacksonville), I don't believe those grades are all that useful as cumulative stats.
When you start digging into the numbers, you see he's bee quite poor more often than not, and has seven passes defended versus 6 TDs allowed, and has faced more targets than any other Colts CB, so there's no element of "Yeah, but teams avoid him!".
No one avoids him at all. He's just a guy.
No player I've covered has there ever been a bigger disparity between fan opinion and his actual level of play. He's an average corner. He was certainly not worth a second round pick.
@Nate Dunlevy @MxPx @bjg Its funny, even though I am not fully bought into DVOA, I still read FO religiously. They seem to have the best thing going when it comes to advanced metrics, so I find the pursuit to come up with a better formula fascinating to watch.
Back to the Colts, while the present is certainly entertaining to watch, I fear a day of reckoning a few years from now. Like the housing market, when you mortgage the future for the present, things have a tendency collapse. It will be interesting to see if this holds true for the Colts. On the bright side, we still have Luck to mask a lot of problems.
You are correct that "winning now" does add extra value to Davis. He didn't really help them win any more last year, but he still could this year. If he does, the trade can still swing in Indy's favor.
Advanced stats don't play into this, but in general I agree with you. Their value is to help correct obvious bias. The "eyeball test" is just not trustworthy. People don't even know what they are watching half the time.
Snarky is fine. It sounds like we don't disagree that much. I just misread your tone and that's my fault.
@Nate Dunlevy @MxPx @bjg I'm in the camp that gives only moderate value to any of the advanced statistics for football. They seem to be much more valuable in baseball, which is primarily a game of individual battles. Football is the ultimate team game, with 22 guys actively involved on every play. Plus, injuries play such big part of the success or failure in football. While the football metrics are interesting, their ultimate accuracy is far more limited than baseball.
Regarding the Davis trade, I see your point on the years of service. However, somehow the fact the Colts get value from the 2nd round pick one year earlier than the pick needs to be factored into the equation. Grigson is clearly in "win now" mode. Which could add value in the short term, but spell doom a few years from now.
Regarding my snarkiness - whatever dude. :) But seriously, I don't need a lecture.
1. PFF ratings aren't junk and I didn't say they were. What I said was that if you dig into PFF's ratings, you see they don't support the notion that Davis is a good corner.
I'm encouraging people to take PFF seriously and study their data, not to disregard it.
2. AV is far from gospel, which I think you know. However, it does give you a good general idea of a player's expected value. You don't have to buy that Davis is a 5 or an 8 or a 15 player. However, the concept that the average player taken where the Colts would have selected would be a roughly a two-year starter who played a few seasons aside from that is valuable and not particularly controversial.
So, be snarky or actually try to interact with the ideas.
Whatever you like.
@bjg @Nate Dunlevy The nice thing is that we don't have debate the value of of a second-round pick. Profootballreference already gives us the average value of all picks. The AV of the pick the Colts gave up would have been around 22.
Davis was worth about a five or six last year, and won't be much better this year.
Objectively speaking, Indy got fleeced. The reason is that they only got two years of Davis versus the four to five years they would have got from a second.
This debate is a confluence of people not valuing picks highly enough, but importantly, overrating Davis. He's not a "good" corner. He's at best a slightly above average one.
In some ways, he's the worst kind of goodish player, because he's rarely just solid. He has games where he's incredible, but also many games where he's one of the worst players on the field (Rams, Texans).
On the balance, he hasn't been good, not bad, but not good. Certainly nowhere near a second-round value.
A second rounder should give you two years of solid starter play, PLUS two other year of solid backup play.
Indy got the first, not the second, and that's why it was a bad investment.
@Nate Dunlevy I respect your opinion, but I think you are over-valuing a second round pick. A solid starter (certainly not great or shut down, but not terrible) for a 2 is a reasonable value. He was better then the other guys we had on the roster, especially at man coverage. He's certainly not a top 10 corner or anything, but I think expecting that from a late 2nd rounder would be a stretch.
@CoverZero I'd rather have the potential to get a player at a position of need, which RB was really not, where it is harder to replace someone than at RB. Value can be found at RBs at any point in the draft or even outside the draft as a very regular occurrence. It's a lot harder to find, say, a good WR or DB outside of round 1 than a RB. Hell even using that pick on an interior lineman, which everyone agrees is a necessity, would have been a much better pick.
I'm not a huge fan Werner as a draft pick anyway. I was a bit more excited about Hughes, but at least he had the excuse of being behind two premier pass rushers. Richardson has been given pretty much everything and failed to excel in any way. He's bottom of the barrel in rushing and receiving DVOA this year. He was bottom rushing last year and middling for receiving.
Frankly I don't see him improving much at all and doubt he will be on the Colts through the end of his contract. His production almost belies belief. He is averaging a full 1.6 yards less than NFL average when no contact in the backfield. That's like the love child of Gijon Robinson and Gilbert Gardener.
Richardson is at 394 carries and his production has been pathetic. Look at this list of runners at 400 carries and tell me it projects well for him:
If Richardson had been anything but a 3rd overall pick, he'd be sitting on his couch hoping an NFL team calls him to put him on the practice squad.
@Payton So you are saying you would rather have Boern Werner over TRich? How about the 4 years of Jerry Hughes over TRich? In the context of zero patience which is where you reside, I would say they are a wash, so who cares?
TRich will slowly ramp up and excel - He will be performing at a high level for the Colts 3 years from now. That is worth a first round pick.