Doyel: Colts GM Ryan Grigson survives to screw up another day
Gregg Doyel, email@example.com
10:53 p.m. EST November 3, 2015
Call him what he is: a survivor. Ryan Grigson is a survivor the likes of which they make movies about, putting them on an island with a volleyball named Wilson or in the Indianapolis Colts front office with an owner named Irsay, an owner who doesn’t know what to do with a season that has been cast adrift and does the easiest thing possible:
Allows someone to fire the offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton, because clearly the whole thing — the Colts’ defense is 29th in the league in yards allowed, by the way — is his fault.
Meanwhile, the GM who put that comically bad offensive line in front of quarterback Andrew Luck earlier this season, the GM who put together this oddly too-old, too-young team — the GM who hired Pep Hamilton, of all people — stays in charge.
When the nuclear winter comes, Ryan Grigson will survive it. That’s all I’m saying.
Insider: Pep Hamilton's ouster no sure fix for Colts
Thing is, this move can’t hurt. The new offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski — the guy coach Chuck Pagano wanted all along, a guy with an actual NFL offensive coordinator pedigree — got stuff done as an offensive coordinator in Carolina with rookie quarterback Cam Newton and one great but tiny receiver (Steve Smith) and two really good tight ends (Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey).
Here in Indianapolis, the Colts have one great but tiny receiver (T.Y. Hilton) and two really good tight ends (Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen). Plus Frank Gore and Donte Moncrief. There’s enough there to get something done.
The defense is a train wreck, but that wasn’t on Pep. It’s on Pagano, yes, but it’s also on the GM who addressed the defense, the Colts’ clearest deficiency a year ago — well, that and the offensive line — with mostly bargain-basement free agents, midround draft picks and a pair of crossed fingers.
Make no mistake, Pep Hamilton is merely the latest in a line of Grigson’s failed big ideas — others: Trent Richardson, Bjoern Werner, Todd Herremans, Jack Mewhort to tackle — to undercut this franchise.
Pep Hamilton was a Grigson guy all right, right down to his tendency to act clever, instead of being clever. Fake it until you make it, you know? Pep was faking it, calling runs when the team should pass, passes when the team should run, and getting too much credit when the brilliance of Andrew Luck made his bizarre play calls actually work.
But Pep was a symptom of what ails the Colts, not the actual ailment. The actual ailment is the guy calling the shots, the general manager who runs the franchise with the attitude of a Polian (Bill) and the football acumen of a Polian (Chris). Grigson carries himself like the smartest guy in the room — “he thinks he invented football,” one veteran player told me this week — but doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
Grigson doesn’t know he can’t coach. He forced Pagano to play Trent Richardson. He forced Pagano to open this season with an offensive line featuring two bad guards (Herremans, Lance Louis) at guard and an excellent guard (Mewhort) at tackle. Two games into the season, realizing Luck was in danger and he’s the head coach, Pagano revamped the line. Just like he stopped giving Richardson the ball last season once he remembered, oh, right, I’m the coach here — not Grigson.
Pagano wanted Chudzinski three years ago. Grigson forced Hamilton on him, then took all the credit for the hire, telling the media he had lists of names for various openings, and that Hamilton was his top name as an offensive coordinator.
When the Colts announced Hamilton had been fired on Tuesday, Pagano was quoted. Grigson was silent. Why? Because Pagano is a stand-up guy who takes blame that isn’t his, and because Grigson is a carnivore who sits in the press box snarling about mistakes on the field — I sit near him; I hear him — and whispering into his cellphone as the Colts are falling down 23-6 Monday night at Carolina (I saw him) and going silent when his latest big idea, Pep Hamilton, gets the big boot.
A season that started with Super Bowl hype and hits the midpoint with a 3-5 skid mark has turned into "The Hunger Games" here in Indianapolis. It’s survival of the fittest, and the Colts’ most skilled survivor remains in charge, avoiding blame for the potential dynasty he is dissolving one move at a time.
Nothing lasts forever, though. Wilson started sprouting grass right out of his head, then floated off into the ocean.
Grigson will float on out of here eventually.
Guys like that, they usually do.