INDIANAPOLIS — When Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is on with 1070 The Fan's Dan Dakich, the only guarantee is that you're in for an interesting next 15 to 20 minutes.
Grigson and Dakich had their latest conversation on Tuesday, and between Dakich's stories about Bob Knight and Grigson saying he's striving to "Presidential" was a solid back-and-forth about many Colts-related topics, such as the roller coaster first half of the season, quarterback Andrew Luck's play against the lofty expectations, the team's offensive line, the GM's approach to in-person college scouting and much more.
Grigson also was asked if he regretted making a comment last month to Fox Sports Radio, in which he said, "We have a defense that is work in progress … When you pay Andrew what we did, it's going to take some time to build on the other side of the ball."
Some took the comment at a slight at Luck and his NFL record $140 million contract, but to Grigson, he was "just stating the obvious," he told Dakich on Tuesday.
"And then they take a snippet, and they turn it into something ridiculous. Andrew knows I will never say anything negative about him," Grigson said. "But it's not just him. It's (Anthony) Castonzo, T.Y. (Hilton), Dwayne (Allen) — I mean, we re-signed a bunch of guys to big deals, and it puts you in a different financial environment than you were before. It's no different than when other elite quarterbacks have been re-signed. Their whole kind of structure and how they are able to do things in free agency and so forth, and how they spend, is going to be changed. I was just stating the obvious, and I don't back off that."
Here's the entire Grigson-Dakich conversation from Tuesday:We're nine games in. What are your thoughts?
Grigson: "Well, I'll tell you what: every year is a big learning experience. It has been for me, that's for darn sure. You know, Chuck (Pagano) and I both in our fifth year have learned a lot along the way; have battled a lot of adversity. I think this year, depth is something that you can never have enough of, especially at the skill positions, you know, starting out the year like we did with all the inactives that were unhealthy scratches. You're just trying to piece together some guys that you can put out there and try to win with that have only been in our building for a short time. Those are hard lessons to learn, but if there's only so many of those guys, I think we've done OK with the guys we've brought in. The mistakes have killed us. We finally had as close to a mistake-free game as possible. We would've loved to have that happen earlier, but it's where we are. You know, we have no one to blame but ourselves for the mishaps and the missed opportunities, because they were definitely there."How frustrating — you're not playing, you're not coaching, you were a player — how frustrating is it to sit up there and watch some of the mistakes, the mental mistakes, the guys are making at different times? I mean, are you a 'Keep it inside' guy? Or are you a 'Pound on the window' guy? What are you?
Grigson: "I'm not going to lie. I've gotten better, and as Jim Irsay would say, 'Become more Presidential.' But I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I'm passionate about the game, I'm passionate about my job. When I see something happen out there that, you know, we get a big 40-yard gain and then you get called back for holding — you're going to have those things, but when it's repeated, you know, that's frustrating. Of course you do your best to keep it in, because I can't do anything; I can't go out there and do anything. It's up to the players. The coaches can't go out there and do anything for them, either. It's up to them. So, yeah, it gets frustrating and you lose your cool once in a while, 'cause that's human nature, and that's just how, I think, both Chuck and I are wired that way. You know, we don't hold back much when it comes to those things."People are like, 'Oh, be professional,' but being professional in sports, at least, is being who you are, and sometimes it comes out in a way that others don't like it. But, hell, it's sports — it's not church.
Grigson: "No, and that's the thing. I think a perspective that outside an NFL building or even a Division 1 basketball, in your case, I think the perspective for someone that's not been in this type of arena, as competitive as it is and all the expectations and demands — I mean, it's going to be a cauldron, of sorts, of emotion, and some guys handle it better than others. Some guys can be just as ticked off as you and be flat-liners and just be Steady Eddie, you know? And that's commendable. But, I don't know — I think it's a game of emotion, it's a game of passion, and … I'm really unchanged. That's just how I am from since I've been a kid."…Let me go into a couple things: where are you at with Andrew Luck's play so far?
Grigson: "It's getting better. I think he's getting better every week. He's really — you know, he's your franchise quarterback, obviously, and all the demands and expectations that come with those things. And then let's be honest: I mean, the contract. I mean, it is what it is. Every team that signs a franchise quarterback to their new deal, things change. And he's interesting in the fact that he really doesn't skirt anything. He does something ill-advised, he will beat his critics at the podium to the question. … He wants to be coached hard, he wants to be told that he's screwing up or not doing right, because he wants to be great. And he's someone I never worry about, but again, you still gotta coach him like you coach the other guys, and you still have to have expectations, and you gotta challenge him just like you challenge the 53rd man on the roster. It's no different."You have brought guys in — the (Rashaan) Melvin kid playing in the back, Frankie Williams and different guys. How do you go about — I've had people asking me this; I've had five different questions on this, so I'm gonna ask the question — how do you go about finding a guy this time of year? What's the process for getting somebody, getting them in? What's the timeline, and then getting them on the active roster or the practice squad?
Grigson: "This time of year it gets more and more difficult, and it gets to be more of a challenge. Like, those first couple weeks, I'll even be out on our Tuesday workouts where we have a slew of guys in, and I usually by Wednesday of that week will have that ironed out. You know, when I first got here when the bullets were flying and I was green as grass, it was sometimes Saturday that we were booking travel for a Tuesday workout. Now it's a lot more streamlined; learned a lot. But at the workouts, I'll even remind the coaches, like, 'Hey guys, this crop that you're looking at right now working out? Not gonna look like this come Week 14,' you know? So we've actually been able to add guys early on, because there's a lot of cuts that if it was a 55-man roster, 56-man roster, a lot of those guys wouldn't be at those early workouts near the cutdown. But even just today we had a workout, and you always look for tricks. It's like, in personnel, a lot of times a guy that has a no-frills look to him or is maybe even a bad body type, but you put on the film and he can play, sometimes you can late in the year be able to hit on a football player like that, just because he doesn't pass the eye test. And there's a lot of teams that will just kill a guy when he walks in the door because he doesn't pass the eyeball test. So you can get a good football player sometimes even late, just because you just defer to the film and you just do it with as much discipline as you can. Because I'll get turned off by a guy, but I always remember my roots, and it's got to come back to how he plays on the film."**
Do you regret saying, I think it was to Jim Rome or Dan Patrick — first, you shouldn't be on those shows, only this one; but that's a different story — but do you regret saying that money spent to Luck cost us building the defense. Do you regret saying that?* Grigson: "You know, I'll say this: it's just the same kind of, like, fire-aim-ready media world that we live in. I mean, it's ridiculous. And it's like, it was, to me, I was just stating the obvious, and then they take a snippet, and they turn it into something ridiculous. Andrew knows I will never say anything negative about him…"…Did you have to talk to Andrew after that? Grigson: "No. Heck no. No. That's *Days Of Our Lives-type stuff. But the thing about it is, I was just stating the obvious. Like any other program that — and I didn't choose my words politically correct enough, I guess. If I didn't say his name, no one would say anything, but they would have to intimate that I mean him. But it's not just him. It's (Anthony) Castonzo, T.Y. (Hilton), Dwayne (Allen) — I mean, we re-signed a bunch of guys to big deals, and it puts you in a different financial environment than you were before. It's no different than when other elite quarterbacks have been re-signed. Their whole kind of structure and how they are able to do things in free agency and so forth, and how they spend, is going to be changed. I was just stating the obvious, and I don't back off that."…How much are you involved right now — or do you, or maybe you don't — do you go to college campuses right now? Do you go watch college football games now in college? Grigson: "Right now is when I'll start going out more. You know, this has been such a different season, like trying to find our sea legs, I've been so focused on, internally, this roster and the challenge with just getting able bodies out there to be part of that 46-man group each week, I just felt like I couldn't take myself away or my focus off. And in the past, you know, I always thought I was going to be a general manager that was out every week still scouting, because that was my roots, I mean, and I can't get away from that. But at the same time, it seems like every time I went out, either there would be someone that would come on the wire that could maybe improve us, and if I'm in a film room a thousand miles away, it's silly for me to leave what I'm doing there and figure out a player on my iPad and see if we should claim them, and then call Chuck and then try to work all that out. So I felt like I just needed to streamline it, go to a handful to a dozen schools a year, and do that. But it only comes usually about the midway point like it is now, because you only get so many games — like, you don't want to go out early, because you're only going to be able to watch junior film. And then if you go out in September, you're only going to be able to see them play against teams that aren't of the same quality of opponent; if you're going to SEC games, they're going to play lesser opponents and things like that. So really now is the time that I'll get more active going to games, and I always do go out, and I'll go on college visits, but it's not as much as I thought I would've done in this job."…Do you feel when you're gone that you could be missing something? Grigson: "It eats at me … I feel like I probably (have) missed a handful of practices since I've been here, and it's just I hate not just feeling the essence of a practice or a vibe of a practice or how a young player that maybe we just signed off a workout that's on the practice squad, you know, I like looking and seeing how guys are coming. I like looking to see who's practicing hard, who's not jogging back from the huddle. Just little things. It's like an OCD-type thing. I think, maybe. That's something that I just really, really need to see."**
Game highlights from the Colts win over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
…Fan's perspective; the optimist fan says, 'Man, I think the Colts turned the corner with the performance against Green Bay.' From an internal perspective, what are your feelings on that?**
Grigson: "I don't think you could say that. I think that what it did for us was, after such a tough game — and such a bad game — against Kansas City at home, we bounced back. And that's something that Chuck has always been able to do since he's been here; we've always been able to bounce back from a really bad loss. And our backs couldn't have been more backed against the wall going into Lambeau. And the way that that game came together, it was great in a lot of ways, because it's something you can build off of; it's something you can gain confidence from. I could definitely feel that. I mean, I feel like we gained confidence from that game. And regardless of how many games we were in, whether it was against Denver, or whether it was out in London — this has been a different year, and regardless of being in those games, that (Packers) game felt different. It felt different before the game — and you've been in this thing; you've been in sports — you just knows when it feels different. And I'm hoping that that feeling and that what we put together, it catches a little bit of fire. Because you need to have purpose when you go out and play, and there's something intangible about that, and I felt like we had that before the game in warmups — just the way even the linemen were cracking their pads with the D-linemen pregame — it just, it was good. And sometimes you're wrong with that assessment. But I think that we have to continue to eliminate those things that kept us out of finishing games early on, because our record could be vastly different. But it's where we're at, and the one, I think, comforting thing when you look at the league is, who are the contenders? I mean, it's every time I look up, someone else is 3-4 or 4-5 — there's a very small group of true contenders out there. And the second half of the season is where you have to put the pedal to the metal and find ways to get better, and you have to find ways to tweak your roster, you've got to have some creativity with how you use players to mask some of your weaknesses, and that's my job to press all those buttons and try to put us in the best position to win so that the coaches have everything they need with what we have right now. So I think it was a good thing, but again, it was one game."You comfortable with the offensive line?
Grigson: "Definitely. I just think that, of course the guys have to be consistent; guys have to be consistent and play well week-to-week. We can't have a roller coaster ride of performances with that group. That group has to be sound and cohesive. You know, we've got a lot of young players playing up front, and it's great to see the (Joe) Haeg's of the world and (Ryan) Kelly. It's been tough not having (Jack) Mewhort in there, because he's playing as well as anyone on that line, as well as Kelly. So it'd be nice to be able to have guys in there for a handful of weeks to see where we could really go with that group — and I personally, really since I've been here, really you just see out of your periphery, you see with the run game, just the way we're executing and blocking things up, it just looks different. I feel like the arrow was definitely up in our run game. That's something that I'm kind of excited about moving forward."You concerned about Castonzo?
Grigson: "Well, I mean, heck, he's been up and down, but the talent's there, and I know the will is there. And he had a heck of a game in Green Bay, so he's got to build off of that. And Anthony, Anthony is a super harsh critic on himself; he's just got to go out there and play football and not worry about anything else. And he did last week, so I just hope he keeps doing it — and that's what we pay him to do."Yeah, I mean, like you talked about with Luck, he should be a guy you don't have to worry about, right? Or as left tackle, you've always got to worry?
Grigson: "In this league, in this league, you never just don't worry, but I think Anthony knows. He's someone that you don't have to even tell, I mean, he's someone that knows the level he needs to play at, and for for us to be successful, he's got to be consistent. I mean, that's just the facts. He knows that."Why have you been (doing) more media this year? Why have you done more media? I've seen you everywhere. You've got the show here — it's really good 'cause you're very good at it 'cause you're very honest — but is that a conscience thing you've made a decision to do?
Grigson: "You know what? I've just have been more open this year, because like I said, I've learned lessons along the way, and I feel like if you have an opportunity to give an opinion or your point of view, if you just stay quiet or in a corner, then people could start making up a bunch of B.S. about you, they could start labeling you a certain way and they could start saying things for you, which isn't the case. So when they asked me here to do a show, before I've been like, 'Nah, it'll take away time from what I'm doing,' and so forth. I think you were the only person I've ever talked to in four years. And it's something I thought, 'You know, I'll try something different,' because obviously last year, there's time where I wish I would've said something, because there was a lot of lies and a lot of baloney out there that I should've refuted because it wasn't right."