INDIANAPOLIS — Production, Ryan Grigson has always been taught, is something not to be overlooked, whether a prospect gets the job done a place like the University of Alabama or, in Edwin Jackson's case, at Georgia Southern.
So while Jackson is certainly a young, up-and-coming piece within the Indianapolis Colts' defense, Grigson, the team's general manager, is confident the 24-year-old can step up his game for at least the next four games, when starter and leading tackler D'Qwell Jackson serves his four-game suspension that was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
"He's a guy that just busts his butt and goes out there, and his energy is palpable, the way he plays," Grigson said of Edwin Jackson Tuesday in his weekly appearance on 1070 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live." "He plays with his hair on fire, and that's what you love about him."
Edwin Jackson hails from Georgia Southern, where in 48 games (with 23 starts), he posted 218 total tackles and was a First Team All-Sun Belt selection in a senior year in which he recorded a career-best 100 tackles, while also forcing a fumble and nabbing an interception.
The Colts always had their eye on Jackson, but he was initially signed as a college free agent in May 2015 by the Arizona Cardinals, who released him after training camp that year. He was signed to the Colts' practice squad almost one year ago today, on Dec. 8, 2015, and has spent his time ever since mastering the Colts' defense and learning from his teammates and coaches.
Will he make mistakes from time to time? Sure — all first-year players do. But what Grigson likes about Edwin Jackson — who has started four games this season and has been credited with 21 tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits, as well as 10 special teams tackles — is he makes those mistakes at "150 miles per hour."
"Not 110 or 100; it's going to be at 150," Grigson said.
Ask New York Jets running back Matt Forte about Edwin Jackson's playmaking ability. With the Colts leading 14-0 in the first quarter of Monday night's game, the Jets had reached their own 47-yard line and finally looked as if they were getting some momentum going. On 3rd and 1, however, the handoff went to Forte, who was immediately stuffed in the backfield by Edwin Jackson for a loss of three, forcing another punt.
The Colts wouldn't look back from there in their 41-10 victory at MetLife Stadium.
"It's nice when you start seeing those flashes where it appears that he's taking his game to another level," Grigson said. "The 3rd and 1 on Forte, where he comes through the line of scrimmage like a bullet and makes that huge play in the backfield, and I don't think Forte knew what hit him — those are the kind of plays that show someone's maturation, and that they're not just a guy."
Grigson said the team has "options" to fill D'Qwell Jackson's spot on the roster for the next four weeks, but because the team is facing a short week as it prepares for its huge matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, any moves considered have "to make sense in a lot of ways in how we approach using that spot, and in what way it could give our team the best chance to win against Houston, which is all that matters right now."
As for D'Qwell Jackson himself, who is by far the team's leading tackler with 80 stops so far this season, Grigson said: "Simply put, we're disappointed. You know, he let down the organization and his team — and he knows that, and he's very accountable to that. So it's a hand we've been dealt, and there's no other way to go but to move forward and put our best foot forward within that position group and this next game."
Here's some other highlights from Tuesday's show, including some calls and questions from fans fielded by Grigson:————————————Colts general manager Ryan GrigsonOn the four-game suspension of inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson:
Simply put, we're disappointed. You know, he let down the organization and his team — and he knows that, and he's very accountable to that. So it's a hand we've been dealt, and there's no other way to go but to move forward and put our best foot forward within that position group and this next game.On if the team is looking to make any moves to immediately fill Jackson's roster spot:
You know, we have options, and we are still working through that. Coach (Chuck Pagano) and I, we (are) still getting information from the docs at this point in time — and you have to also understand it's a short week, so it has to make sense in a lot of different ways in how we approach using that spot, and in what way it could give our team the best chance to win against Houston, which is all that matters right now.**
On first-year inside linebacker Edwin Jackson and his role:* You know, production is something that I was always taught you just don't overlook, and no matter the level of competition, you know, you grade the player and not the school. That's what I was always taught and it stuck with me. And our college guys did a great job with him, because they, in the preseason, will have teams designated to them, and they have lists of guys to look at that are bubble players, so to speak — who we target as practice squad guys or claims at the 53 cutdown and so forth. He was a guy that we brought in early in the year — it might've been the first or second week of the regular season — and he really impressed us at the workout as well, in addition to the pro preseason film. So (he's) a kid that he is a breath of fresh air, because he's really made himself relevant from the time that we even brought him in from the very first day in December — we waited all that time and kind of kept him in our back pocket until we an opening — and he just always made himself relevant, no matter what situation he's been put in. He had seven tackles, led the team yesterday, has that big play, and the more he plays, I think, the better our appreciation is for him. Again, he's a guy that just busts his butt and goes out there, and his energy is palpable, the way he plays — he plays with his hair on fire, and that's what you love about him.On Edwin Jackson not taking anything for granted: No, he doesn't think the world owes him something. He's a guy that knows he didn't come into this thing as a big-money free agent or a high draft pick, or any of that fanfare. He's a guy that has literally just — Coach (Pagano) always talks about, 'Make yourself relevant. Make us not want to cut you.' And that very first practice, I've talked about it before, he high-pointed a ball and made a big pick, which isn't something that happens every day at the inside linebacker group. So whether it was on special teams in the preseason, he was just one of those guys that we were like, 'Well, we can't expose this guy to the wire; there's something about him.' And I think it just comes down to that ferocity — you know, he had the huge hit earlier in the year; I forget. Just whenever he's had his shots, he's made the most of it, and he's a pleasure to be around.On the "just have to win one" thought process in the month of December: Again, I just don't think the word "playoffs" should even be in your head. The team … you shouldn't even know who we play beyond the Houston Texans. Our fans need to go haywire in this one. This one means a lot. This is a big, big big game — not only because it's the next one, but because it's a home game versus a division opponent. Enough said, you know?On looking back at the first matchup earlier this season with Houston, you can never count them out of a game: I grow weary of the things sometimes in this league, and except for maybe a couple divisions, the parity is rampant division to division. You look at the AFC North, the NFC South — it just goes on and on. There are no bad teams in the NFL, OK? It's every week you better bring your "A" game, or you're going to get slapped around. And I feel like in our situation, we're far from a team that could ever look beyond the now, and I think Coach (Pagano) is exemplary the last five years at pounding that home. You know, he's consistent in one way, and that's how he does it.On how the fans need to be into this Houston game, just like the players: There's some times I could recall, even with the roof open, you couldn't hear yourself think in there. That's one of these games. The players are going to bring their "A" game; the 12th man's got to bring their "A" game.*
Highlights from the Colts win over the Jets on Monday Night Football.
Inbox question, asking what his thoughts are on the offensive line play after the Jets game, and the play of the defense of late?**
Grigson: "Well, I think with the offensive line, they were kind of, I think, counted out from the get-go, and I think they answered the bell in a big way versus a very formidable front; one we know has some dominant players and game wreckers and so forth. I think it's a game where they gave up one sack, and Andrew (Luck) had a ton of time last night — a ton of time. And so it's one to build off of, I think. I think they showed that they're capable. We feel good about these guys — I mean, is it going to be perfect? No. Are they perfect yet? No. Have we had a lot of continuity? No. But I think the group is going in the right direction with the group of young players we have, and it's an opportunity to grow. And they use that, and they know now that they faced a front like that and they performed at that type of level. So that just builds confidence, and it breeds confidence with that group, and it's great for our receivers, it's great for our tight ends, it's great for everybody on offense, because, you know, if you're playing really well in the trenches, that's where you want to get to."Follow-up question, on if there is an update on Denzelle Good, who suffered a concussion:
Grigson: "Yeah, like everyone else, he's in the protocol, and it's a day-to-day proposition. It's a process, and sometimes guys get better quicker and they matriculate into that process quicker than others — it's just something … you don't know day-to-day until you get that assessment every night by the docs."Inbox question, asking what he thinks makes Donte Moncrief such a good red zone target?
Grigson: "Well I think, one, is his size. He's different from our other wideouts, obviously, because of his size. And he also has a good catch radius. But we have high expectations for that group — that's no secret — it's a very talented group, and we expect a high level of production out of that group; you know, where we drafted them, what we gave up to draft them … and they're doing a good job. But Donte, I think, is someone that's not near his ceiling. He's going to be as good as he wants to be — however good he wants to be or what he puts in, he'll get out. He's got five TDs in five games, he's helping us contribute to winning football, but I think he's not near his ceiling. I think he's a guy that if he continues to learn to learn to play to his size and to play to a level of toughness that he's capable of, you know, the sky's the limit."Inbox question, asking what impact a healthy Trent Cole can have on the Colts' defense?
Grigson: "Trent is a guy that just came off back surgery, and as you see yesterday, he's out there playing a significant number of snaps, batting down balls, getting pressure, setting edges, coming fresh off a back surgery. So he's as great a warrior as I've ever been around, in terms of just true toughness. The fact he played with what he was playing with before the surgery is incredible in and of itself. So I obviously have a great appreciation for a guy that (is) that dedicated, and again, I think he'll only get better with each game."Inbox question, asking how confident he is in the Colts' players confidence in their playoff chances?
Grigson: "I think, you know, it's just all about Houston. I mean, I really just don't even think we let that word even into our psyche — Coach (Pagano) is great about that. It's one game at a time. It makes no sense to think otherwise."Follow-up question, on how badly needed was Monday's win over the Jets, and how well did he think the guys played?
Grigson: "You know, you do the film leading up to the game: you know what you're getting in to. You know you're playing a team that played a really, really good team in New England down to the wire; they were in that game into the very end, and had played three really good games before that; won 10 games last year. So objectively speaking, it was a really great win, especially on the road at 30 degrees, or whatever, and we go out there and performed like we did. So it's something that you build off of; it's rare to have games in this league that are that lopsided, so of course you rejoice in that, because it's so hard to win in this league, but when you get a win like that on the road, it's a skin for the wall. Coach (Pagano), that's a great win for him, and that's a great win for the organization — especially at this time; it's a heck of a lot better to get that win now than Week 2. So I think there's a lot to be said for it, but again, you have to wash it off, unfortunately, before you touch down at 4:30 a.m. last night, and we've got no choice but to look at this team coming in here at 1 o'clock this Sunday."Caller John, asking about Edwin Jackson, and that he thinks he'll step up his game with D'Qwell Jackson out:
Grigson: "Again, I think anytime we've had to call on him, he's responded. And I don't think Coach (Pagano) or I, or anyone on the staff, has any reason to think otherwise. Because he's going to prepare, he's going to leave it out there, all, on the field. He's one of those guys that if he does make a mistake, it's going to be at 150 mph — not 110 or 100; it's going to be at 150. So it's nice when you start seeing those flashes where it appears that he's taking his game to another level — the 3rd and 1 on Forte, where he comes through the line of scrimmage like a bullet and makes that huge play in the backfield, and I don't think Forte knew what hit him — those are the kind of plays that show someone's maturation, and that they're not just a guy."