Looking Toward the Offseason
Yesterday, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson fielded a question about in which specific areas the team needs to improve this offseason. In no less than 357 words (which really isn’t that much), he told everyone that it’s not time to evaluate and discuss team needs yet. It’s time for things like decompressing, not resting on laurels, and for iron sharpening iron.
Grigson said he and the coaches to step away first and then get back together to break things down. “It’s hard to say right now definitively that needs to be fixed, that needs to be fixed,” he said, “even though we have the full body of work at our disposal from all the film we’ve watched, because there’s still emotion involved. So I think you need to step away. We need to have discussions.” Fair enough.
On the matter of building the roster for next season, Grigson said they want championship level players, and that it isn’t easy. “It’s not like you can just go to your local swap meet or go to Target,” he said, “and just take your cart and grab whatever and say, ‘I need this, this and this’ and just go grab it.”
I have never been to my local swap meet, and I rarely shop at Target, but I can see how they don’t resemble the NFL offseason. First of all, Target never has any offensive linemen available; tight ends, maybe, but never o-linemen. Silliness aside, Grigson is making a solid point about being careful with offseason decisions, and, given many fans’ feelings about the 2013 draft and free agency signings, that should sound at least a little refreshing.
He added that, “Everything has to kind of line up sometimes to get the right pieces. But that’s what you have the draft for. That’s what you have free agency for. That’s what you have the scouts scouring regional combines for and finding the Josh McNary’s and all those types of things. We need to look under every rock, which we always will, and we need to continue to churn this roster and to create the greatest air of competition.”
Grigson also was asked about the how many pieces he felt are already in place along the offensive line, which players (at any position) are a priority to re-sign, and whether Vontae Davis was one of those priorities.
Once again, Grigson had no desire to go into details, but here is his unabridged answer on Davis: “Like I said, any corner, any cover corner is going to be high on the pecking order, especially in a scheme like ours. Vontae’s a heck of a player. Again, consistency’s the key.
“Vontae can be as good as he wants to be and you saw in some of those games this year where he just completely erased the receiver. And they were top-tier receivers in this league that it was like they didn’t even play. So he does that every game and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the Pro Bowl every year. And he knows that.
“But we really like Vontae and like I said, once we go through this process and get to that point where we make those calls and do those things, hopefully it all works out how we want and we’re better because of it.” It sounds like he’s going to try to re-sign him…or he isn’t…or he is.
What about Pep and Clyde?
Some people have speculated that because of their prior working relationship, that new Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell might be interested in adding Colts Quarterbacks Coach Clyde Christensen to his staff. It’s just speculation at this point, reasonable though it may be.
On the other hand, Vanderbilt University had been reported to have shown interest in Offensive Coordinator and lightning rod for both praise and criticism, Pep Hamilton. According to Grigson, they’re the only ones who have contacted the Colts about interviewing anyone on the staff thus far.
Hamilton reportedly turned down the job, and Stanford Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason will become the new Vanderbilt coach instead:
#vandy offered Pep Hamilton its HC job & had a private plane set to get him & his family this am but he passed to stay Colts OC, per sources— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 17, 2014
Will we get square-peg-in-round-hole-power-run Pep or offensive-adaptation-super-genius Pep? My money (or my hope) is on the latter. Hamilton wanted to run the ball, which would’ve been a nice compliment to an elite quarterback. It just never quite worked out, and he eventually adapted the offense to its strengths, with tremendous success. There can be little turning back from something like that (right?).
Grigson on why Richardson wasn’t able to find a rhythm this season: “To be honest, I think it comes down to confidence. We’ve been over it a thousand times. This is a bottom-line business, a league where you are judged are on your last carry. I thought he showed some progress this year. I thought that from a play speed standpoint, as the year progressed, just in practice, he was making more decisive cuts. It’s all about comfort level and confidence. There’s many examples of backs that came into this league with so much promise that took a full year and had the low average per carry and things like that. We have patience. He’s not going anywhere. We have him for the long haul. We don’t win 12 games this year if Trent Richardson isn’t here. That’s just a fact. We had a guy get hurt, our starter get hurt and the mindset here is we are not going to just go reach for a guy. We want to go out and get the best available guy, not just the best guy, we are going to go to the hill to get the best we can. I think Trent fits all the things that we are trying to do here. If it isn’t this year, it’s going to be next year because he’s going to have the offseason. He’s going to be dialed in as a pro. He’s going to have his life in order. Chuck (Pagano) and all of us know that with a year under his belt, you are going to see a different player.”
Grigson on making decisions that don’t hurt his ability to re-sign Andrew Luck and others in the next couple of years: “Of course. You have to be smart about, we’re always forward thinking. We’re always, before we make any type of move, are looking down the line. Because you don’t want to hamstring yourself and you don’t want to lose your franchise. So obviously I have very smart people around me that remind me, including our owner. So we’ll be smart about that and we’ll make sure that we keep our best players here as best we can.”
Few if any answers were given yesterday, but we can say with certainty that Grigson has the support of Jim Irsay, wants to proceed with caution this offseason, and if he has any regrets about the Trent Richardson trade, he isn't going to air them publicly.
The Colts and their front office will be working to duplicate some of the success they had with the roster before the 2012 season and to get everything they can out of the players they added this past year. For now, we'll have to wait and see what their plans are for 2014, and if we know anything about Ryan Grigson, it will be interesting.
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.
There was a time, before free agency started where it was the draft or trade and nothing else.
Now you can go to Target of sorts and fix problems in a hurry. Ryan Grigson created more problems
with his free agent signings than he fixed. Last off season it was protect Luck and stop the run.
This off season its protect Luck and stop the run. Grigson you are over matched and Irsay will soon
get the message if last off seasons moves are the best you can do.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to worry about Grigs. His next good trade will be his first. Maybe TRich will pan out, maybe he won't, but it's likely that, *at best*, he gave up a first rounder for an above average RB. That is NOT good value. Davis has been good at times, but is most often seen running towards the end zone in pursuit of the guy that just burned him rather than the opposite way with the football. It's obvious that a 2nd round pick was too high a price for him. He even got raw deal on the Jerry Hughes deal, with a "bust" ending up with 10 sacks for Buffalo. Yeah, it's a different system, but how great would it have been to have even 8 sacks across from Mathis? Sheppard was decent, but Hughes was actually solid.
On top of all that, every single free agent that was signed in the summer of 2013 underachieved. If even one of those guys had panned out, the Colts may have ended up in the AFCCG, either through a first round bye or a divisional win. All the praise we've had for Grigs so far has been based on the 2012 draft, where, while the other picks were good, the best pick was obvious.
I'm certainly not saying that it's time to start rabble rousing, but I'm not sure that he's earned the benefit of the doubt yet, either.
All cliches aside, I liked the press conference. Some interesting points were brought up.
-Sounds like he's calling out Vontae, to a certain extent. "He can be as good as he wants" is pretty close to saying "He doesn't always put in the effort to be as good as he can be.". Which seems awfully close to true. -REALLY interesting stuff on Trent. Confidence? Comfort Level? It sounds a little bit like he's saying what I've felt about Trent, which is that his issue is that he's a headcase, rather than this being a talent issue. Something about the trade, the scheme, the new city, SOMETHING scrambled Trent's wires and he's not comfortable on the field.
Grigson certainly SEEMS like a sharp guy who understands football as well as business (as evidenced by our cap space), but we'll see how well that translates to on the field action.
I dunno about you, Marcus, but I've seen people at Target I think could play nose tackle... if they'd lose about 150 lbs...
Yes, the obvious joke is about Wal Mart shoppers, but they'd have to lose more weight, plus I'd have trouble believing they'd be able to handle the intellectural rigors of football. A single-gap assignment would throw then numerically; I'd hate to make them process a stunt. I mean, you go beyond the 5 gap and suddenly those guys'd have to lift their down hands to count any further. :-S
Maybe he was comparing playing Trent versus only fielding 10 players and handing the ball off to empty space.
@Brent_Dragoo That's interesting and plausible. If he's a head case, maybe they can get it sorted out. People used to say the Pacers' Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson were head cases (for different reasons, obviously - Lance is kinda crazy), and the right coaching staff and teammates have helped them each become major contributors to a contender.
Let's hope we can see the same for Trent Richardson.
Jokes aside, Marcus is right about what Grigs said. Fans always complain about off season, non-draft, or emergency in-season acquisitions (I have to be honest and admit I'm one of them) but we always forget that availability dictates all. I don't recall a whole bunch of centers being around when Indy signed Satele. And how many running backs were available when they picked up Richardson? I'm not making excuses, but I *do* have to point out that it's not like Grigs could've gone to the local player swap meet ;), said "Screw cost, we need an MVP caliber (fill-in-the-blank)" and expect one to just pop into his shopping cart. The list of free agents is never consistent with all teams needs, and neither is the draft. So the mark of making the draft plus free agency balancing act work is the mark of a good GM.
But admittedly, sometimes you just get screwed availability-wise. Look at the last few years of Polian's reign when offensive line talent was needed so badly.
It's precisely the difficulty in finding what you need and what fits right that makes the draft so valuable: It's a big list, the talent is moldable, and due to rookie contract rules they're affordable. It aggravates me when fans talk about how the first rounder paid for Richardson doesn't really hurt the team all *that* much due to rookie contract restrictions. That misses the point; a first rounder is more often than not going to turn into a legitimate starter than a later round pick will, so it's more than money that dictates a draft slot's worth. That's why you treat them like currency and watch what you spend them on.
Well, anyway... yeah, it's right to note that there's no magical bottomless pit of talent that GMs can mine when their rosters fall short. While I'm as critical of a lot of the FA signings as anyone, I at least hope I temper that with the understanding that there's only so much a team can do when there are only so man players out there to sign.
@AJ_Well, I've seen some big, two-gap linemen at walmart, but most of them were ladies driving fat carts, so...athleticism is a question mark.
That's not even amusing. What benefit do you get from insulting players? Everyone, including Trent, knows he had a bad year rushing. But everyone should also know he had a good year as a blocker and a receiver. Disappointing for a first round pick/trade? Absolutely! Was he a liability on the field? I think that would be an amazingly unreasonable conclusion. Who else could they have gotten or put in who would have been better this season? Given his struggles rushing, could the coaches have called better plays? Probably. But why some fans and the Colts blogosphere keep going on and on trash talking Trent amazes me. Very sad. For everyone.
@MarcusDugan @Brent_Dragoo Ricky Williams has/had a somewhat debilitating social disorder and after a few disappointing seasons (and a lot of medicinal drugs) managed an 1,800 yard season. What concerned me is the suggestion that he's having problems at practice, where you are in a safe, controlled environment. Jeez, if he can't even hit a hole hard in practice...? Don't want to think about it.
@MarcusDugan@MarcusDugan I was definitely thinking about Roy, and absolutely thinking about Lance!
It's certainly my theory for why a guy who was, at one time, a MUCH better player degrading into a guy who is, well, a jumble of nerves. Trent is just so, so much better when he blocks, it is astonishing. He's a strong, willful, powerful, and direct player. But get the ball in his hands, and he seems to melt under the pressure, as he did in the playoffs.
I certainly hope that coaching/confidence/stability can fix this issue. I would think Pagano's player-friendly attitude and Pep Hamilton's innovative schemes would be on the more effective side of 'ways to fix this problem', but who knows. We'll see it on the field.
@MarcusDugan @AJ_ Ouch, ouch, ouch. I really shouldn't be laughing at this stuff. But I am. Maybe they're using the carts so they don't injure themselves. Their jobs probably require it. Just like football players can't ski or sky-dive, these BMI-enhanced folks have stringent limitations on what they are allowed to do lest they pull a hammy, pile-drive their shin-bones into the ground, or unbalance the earth in its orbit.
@MarcusDugan Good point. I'm not about to say good 3-4 NTs are paragons of athleticism, but at least they can walk to a sideline without getting winded. I swear, I've seen fat cart driving shoppers getting winded **just standing up to reach something**. When it's that bad, OMG...
Plus, build. It's bad enough seeing some pro caliber linemen in those tight pants and stuff. Wal Mart shoppers... good God, someone lobotomize me and kill the mental picture!...
You talking to me? The only stand I took was against nastiness and ridicule. So guess you think that is a really helpful strategy? And, by doing so, you are going to improve the Colts team? Grigson is going to say, "oh wow, I never thought of that. George really taught me something! "
@andreaallennycTo me this is simple Colts fans must be the Luckiest fans anywhere to go from Unitas,Jones,
Manning, Luck. These can be short windows of opportunity so you must make the right choices as best you can. Last off seasons free agent and draft moves Sucked and if you don't like that then put your rose glasses back on. Last off season everything was fixed but nothing was fixed. do you want a REPEAT I sure don't. This is a one man team right now and I say PROTECT Luck or else. After all that I heard last summer "we must
protect Luck" NOT.
@andreaallennyc I sure would like to be picking in the first round
how about you? Grigson should give back his NFL Exec of the Year
before they take it back. Fix the Oline because if Luck gets hurt we will be Jacksonville.
I have no problem with criticism and thought I said that. I just think there are better and worse ways to criticize people. Feedback about mistakes is different than vitriol. And research does show that harsh criticism is pretty much invariably destructive ... Most of this research concerns school or the workplace. Fan and blogosphere criticism is, I hope, less harmful, but I'm sure it is harmful.
I don't have a strong opinion on the Trent trade one way or the other at this point, but even if it turns out after another season to be a really bad trade, I'm not going to get as angry about it as it seems some fans are. Yes, first round picks ARE valuable. But GMs make some bad decisions, their judgment is not going to be perfect, that is inevitable. It will certainly be important for Grigson to know he made a bad decision and to try to figure out why so he doesn't make that same type of mistake again. People pointing out that he made a bad decision is one thing, the tone and manner if the criticisms of Trent and Grigson and others (and the repetitiveness) is what I take issue with. I do not take issue with stating that you think it was a bad decision and pointing out why. Much of the criticism I read seems to me to cross the line into ridicule and an attack on the person; it goes beyond what I think is reasonable.
I do feel protective of athletes. That is, in part, simply consistent with what made me become a psychologist. But I also taught on the college level (Division I) and had many athletes in my classes (probably because I gave lectures on sex, but that is another story). I was astounded with the criticism these guys had to put up with and be gracious about. They handled it very well, and I have great admiration of that. But is was very painful for them and harmful. It was never helpful. I thought much of it was cruel and unnecessary ... Some reporters managed to do their job and point out deficiencies without being harmful, others did not. I don't know why, but that is something I really think is totally unnecessary and terribly destructive..
While I like your viewpoint on these things, I just can't say I share it. And it certianly makes sense in light of your profession.
I think the Colts definitely could have found a cheaper replacement, and in particular, one without a guaranteed contract. Unless Trent turns in to at least a replacement level player next year, the Colts probably could have thrown a pick between the 4th and the 6th at the position and found someone that could have played as well as Trent. You could make the point that Willis McGahee or another street free agent could have filled Trent's role. I suppose that is the frustrating part about it. First round picks are valuable in the NFL, even though they are gambles. You need as many lower risk gambles as you possibly can to build a good team.
Perhaps coming from a different profession, my attitude on these things is different. When I see someone underperforming, it doesn't matter why, it still warrants criticism. Lack of productivity is lack of productivity. I'm sure that Trent tried hard and that Grigson meant well, but it doesn't change the fact that Grigs made a bad trade and Trent has not played well. In my world, criticism provides a viewpoint to improvement. Of course that's all kind of useless when it's us schmuck football fans criticizing guys that actually know what they're doing, but as fans, we're the customers of the project. Things don't change unless we voice our disapproval, no matter how meek our voices are. While I wouldn't say I'm a disappointed consumer, I'm a consumer who feels my customer experience could have been better. And as a side note, sometimes people are driven by negative reinforcement to excel, particularly when that comes from people that don't necessarily have control over that person's course.
Perhaps catharsis is the wrong word. Not that I'm necessarily being defensive, but maybe snark is a better representation. I didn't like the trade from the get go, and I find sardonic jokes about it entertaining, for better or worse. If I actually got legitimately angry about football, I think I'd need to take a look at the priorities in my life. It's still just football, right?
Well, I do think it's fine for people to have their own opinions and to talk about what they want. I chose to talk about how boring I find repeated trashing of the Trent trade and that I don't like all the criticism of Trent. Actually not all that contrary. Just because I think people have a right to their opinion doesn't mean I give up my right to disagree or criticize!
Trent is only a liability on the roster (well, I wouldn't use that word, but whatever), if the Colts could find a better or cheaper player to replace him. As it is, we'll get to see him next year and then people can go on and on about how the critics were right or wrong. I hope they're wrong, because that would be better for the Colts and Trent.
I do not at all like most of the criticism of GMs, coaches or players. In general these are hard working, good people who are trying their best. I have no problem criticizing management or coaching DECISIONS or pointing out that players aren't good at certain things, or made a bad throw or decision or whatever. But so much of the criticism seems like vitriol about them as people, treating them like they are stupid, horrible people. It is one thing to criticize players who don't try or don't work hard, but some players, like DHB, work their butts off and are great people and get blasted very cruelly.
As a psychologist, let me tell you that research on catharsis shows that it is overrated ... If it is venting anger, it actually leads to more anger, really. Think about it. And cruel criticism may be what is going to keep Trent and DHB from playing their best. Clearly they are pressing and their confidence is shot. Yeah, it's football and the guys should be tough, but no one is immune to the kind of criticism these guys have gotten.
Off my soapbox, for now.
@andreaallennyc Fair. It just seems kind of contrary for you to talk about how pointless other sports fans' comments are when you're talking about how everyone is entitled to their opinions.
While we're on the subject, I entirely agree that it's pointless to rehash it. I wasn't trying to debate the contrary. My point is just that this is sports and people talk about whatever is whatever and that's what we do. You're entitled to your opinion and I'm entitled to mine. Personally I find it cathartic to complain about T-Rich. I honestly don't care who is available at pick #26 in the first round of the 2014 draft, I'd rather that the Colts had the hope of the pick than what they got for it. Trent may not be a liability on the field, but he IS a liability on the roster when he's taking up cap space and a roster spot and performing at a sub par level.
And, for the record, he was a liability on the field in the KC game. But that's just me making a stupid joke.
Since you addressed me, let me point out that the comments that I replied to seemed to be implying that Trent was a liability. That's the point that I was addressing and I stand by my comments.
If he is worth a first place pick or not is actually another issue.
However, in either case, the tone and manner in which people are discussing Trent is, I think, unnecessary and unhelpful. That's just my take and you are welcome to disagree.
I am also totally bored with the conversation about whether or not it was a good trade. In my opinion, there is nothing left to say or discuss at this point. I wish there could at least be a moratorium until the draft. At which point I would accept additional discussion of who was available at that point for the Colts to draft if only they hadn't traded for Trent. At least that would be a new discussion.
But if you really enjoy this sort of repetitive discussion, go for it. Obviously you didn't like the discussion I was interested in having, but we're both entitled to indulge our own preferences and discuss what we want.
It's professional sports, what are we supposed to do in the off season? It's not a question of whether he was a liability or not, it's whether he was worth the cost. Right now, that's a resounding no.
I agree on the sentiments. I can also, however, understand venting one's frustration through deprecation. But it's certainly a shame that Trent has to be piled on by fans of his team no matter how bad the trade might seem right now.
Like I said, I expect they're working on whatever it is. They don't want to throw him under the bus in public, which I agree with. But they know things haven't gone well, and I expect they've been working on it for months.
In public they talk about it as a problem of confidence and of familiarity with the players and playbook. I assume they are working on that in private and in practice. Not sure what you think the problem is ... What they should be working on that you think they wouldn't be working on?
@Brent_Dragoo They talk about it like it isn't a problem in public, but on the practice field, in the film rooms, they see what's going on. I hope they're working on it, and I expect they are.