INDIANAPOLIS –Indianapolis stands in the AFC's fifth playoff slot through 11 games and though that can change quickly in the NFL, General Manager Ryan Grigson is pleased with the performance to date.
Every person in the role Grigson holds in this league watches weekly performances with a discerning eye, and every nuance is measured.
There are only 17 players on the active roster who were with the team before Grigson's arrival 11 months ago. The team has 10 rookies and a total of 27 players with no more than two years of league experience.
Those current totals have been relatively the same all season, and the team has not incurred consecutive losses to date. The Colts absorbed double-digit road losses at Chicago (41-21), the New York Jets (35-9) and New England (59-24), yet produced victories in response.
Grigson identifies what he likes so far.
"I'd say, hands down, our resiliency and the true sense of brotherhood and family that you can see and feel in our locker room. It's tangible, the family vibe around here," said Grigson. "Examples of our resiliency would be us bouncing back to get wins after losing games by wide margins on the road. That's not common with a young team.
"Another is guys like T.Y. Hilton taking shots, dusting himself off and finishing because he knows his brothers are counting on him. I don't know many young receivers, or old ones for that matter, that would of came back after taking a blow and being twisted like a pretzel (last week). He's tougher than I have given him credit for."
Last week, the Colts earned a 20-13 victory over Buffalo after a 35-point loss to the Patriots. The offense produced 13 points, while Hilton returned a punt for a score. The defense kept a potent offense in check, and the kicking and coverage units won their battles. Little things were important, and they produced a "grinder" win.
"Our recent special teams performance speaks directly to that resiliency as well," said Grigson. "From our New England game, where we didn't play well and made costly mistakes, to bouncing back versus Buffalo, where our special teams was the difference and a catalyst in that victory (was impressive). They could have hung their heads, but they answered the bell and used New England as a teaching moment to get better."
One of defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's key sayings is, 'Make bad into good.' It is something Grigson sees his team doing on the field. It has done it in the heat of competition. It also did it with the forced transition to Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians after three games when Head Coach Chuck Pagano needed to take an absence to battle leukemia.
"That is what is so special about this staff," said Grigson. "Every day I see them constantly turning negatives into positives. Lastly, doing this all without their head coach since the third week of the season (shows a great deal). That alone speaks for itself in terms of pure character."