INDIANAPOLIS – Any time an NFL team wins 11 games, there is a certain level of deserved satisfaction.
For Ryan Grigson, it was a dramatic way for a team tabbed as the league’s 32nd-best to perform. After weeks of thrilling play, though, the season left him wanting more.
“Yeah, we had a fine season. We did a lot of great things. We exceeded everybody's expectations, but not our own,” said Grigson on Tuesday. “I felt like this team had such a strong belief in itself and the message that Chuck (Pagano) had laid down that, ‘The sky was the limit. Why not us?’ Especially that Detroit game, it got to be like, ‘Why not us, why not us?’ ”
Grigson says he has taken a “New York Minute” to decompress and that he truly is pleased with players and coaches.
“No one gave us a shot,” said Grigson. “I walked around the complex like we all did with t-shirts with the (number) 32 power ranking on the back. That’s where everyone collectively saw us.”
Grigson and all other Colts had a different vision. The first six games saw a win answer every loss, and then the club fashioned a four- and three-game winning streak to run among AFC leaders.
Indianapolis showed pluck with a 9-1 record in games decided by seven points or less, winning the last eight of those consecutively.
A young roster thought big, and it performed well on the main stage.
“It's not like I'm sitting here like this big dreamer,” said Grigson. “We beat the Packers. We beat the Texans. We came back in some games in hostile environments and beat people that no one thought we could. The only ones that believed were those guys in that locker room.
“Why not think that way? Why not believe that way? You are doing yourself a disservice to not think like that. To me, 11-5 is great. Yes, it's great when you look at where we came from last year. To me, regardless of the record, if we are 9-7 or whatever and you don't come home through with the Lombardi, it’s a season that you wish you had back.”
The end of every season brings change. Winning makes the taste of change more palatable, but it means an interruption of a program.
“We’re dealing with some influx and uncertainty with the staff,” said Grigson. “That’s my number one objective right now, to make sure we have our ducks in a row and that we’re able to plug holes. When you win, this is a by-product. People try to raid the henhouse when you win some games.”
Indianapolis lost a top football chief in Tom Telesco, who left to become the San Diego general manager. The Colts welcomed veteran personnel ace Jimmy Raye from the Chargers as vice president of football operations.
The Colts also parted ways with special teams coach Marwan Maalouf.
Grigson would like to learn quickly the status of Bruce Arians, who forged a 9-3 record in an interim role for Pagano. Arians is in consideration of a head coaching position for himself.
“It’s a holding pattern. I’m waiting to get a text or a rogue text even, someone to tell me something about what’s going on. I’d like to know,” said Grigson. “He’s an important piece to this franchise.”
Declining to discuss any other coaching staff queries, Grigson lauded players for their gritty effort during the season, citing offensive linemen
Grigson declined to get into specific roster personnel questions, as well as some on the combine participants and impending March free agency. He does know 2013 will provide more leeway in the spring in landing talent.
“I know how much (cap room) we have,” said Grigson. “I know we are like fourth in the league or so in space. In terms of players under contract, I know that we have like 58, so we are in pretty good shape. I think that might be fifth-highest in the league. I think obviously this looks like a more attractive job for a potential GM this year than it did last year (laughs).”
Grigson said any additions to the roster would be with proper thought and with an eye toward a player’s ability to mesh with the program and to contribute however asked to do so.