INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Grigson wrapped up the Colts 2014 season on Friday afternoon with his season ending press conference.
Only two general managers in the NFL will get a later start to the 2015 offseason than Grigson and that's what drives him to get back to the pinnacle.
Grigson has helped construct a trio of Super Bowl teams through his NFL tenure and now spearheading the Colts blueprint, he goes into 2015 with a foundation needing just a few touchups.
"Are we where we need to be? No. We definitely have areas of improvement that we need to address to be able to compete with those elite teams in January. I think that's evident," Grigson said on Friday.
"Jim (Irsay) has charged me with seeing that process through. At the same time, I feel like this city and our fans can be energized and excited about what's on the horizon because we're clearly going in the right direction."
The direction comes on the heels of three straight 11-win seasons after the cupboard Grigson first opened back in 2012 was more than bare. The regular season success has trickled into the postseason by advancing one round further each year.
On Friday, Grigson spoke with the passion of a man knowing what is out in front of him this offseason.
The drive and sting from Sunday's AFC Championship loss was clearly evident in Grigson's message of needing to make a final leap.
"Everyone is accountable. We're all accountable in these jobs. We have to do a better job collectively as a whole if we want to take that next step because it's so darn hard to even get where we were at," Grigson said.
"But to get to that next level, to get to the apex, you not only have to be peaking at the right time and everyone's feeling it and everyone's in great spirits and it's fun. The ride is fun. Even to where we got, it is fun. You could feel it. You could feel the momentum picking up. That's what was disappointing about that loss because I felt like we had momentum. We were all so excited about going in there and doing what we had done in Denver, which no one thought we could. We had been in that situation many times, the (2013) San Francisco game, Seattle, Denver last year, there's a lot of games that get forgotten that I have in the back of my mind that let me know that this team is capable of competing with anyone."
After a few days down at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Grigson has returned to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center where evaluations are on the horizon.
Beginning early next week, the entire Colts staff will begin to implement the necessary steps for the 2015 offseason.
They enter knowing that playing in a game 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl has the drive at a high level to make sure next year's offseason starts two weeks later than this time around.
"I think all of us are still not really feeling too great about (the AFC Championship loss) and we all have to carry that chip to get better," Grigson said.
"This offseason, I know the guys are going to be excited about the future because now they've got a taste and they got so close. They know how close we were, so that fire should burn all offseason."
Here are a few of the major topics Grigson discussed on Friday:On Free Agency:
Following the NFL Combine next month, the free agency period will take center stage on the offseason calendar.
"Jim (Irsay) is more than willing to spend the money," Grigson said on Friday. "He's always, 'Ryan, if it makes us better, let's do it.' I have great support there."
Grigson went on to weigh the pros and cons of trying to asses needs in free agency (March 10) versus the draft (April 30-May 2).
The obvious allure of free agents is personnel people have seen players do it at the NFL level but at the same time getting them to not re-sign with their previous team brings plenty of hurdles (unfamiliar scheme, family preferences, overall fit).
As far as the draft, the chance to mold these talents into your brand and culture is the major draw. The inexperience factor of the prospects though has to be balanced in how quickly they can be impactful.
Grigson does know that he will have a great selling product when free agency begins in early March.
"I tell you, the Indianapolis Colts are an easy sell job these days, really easy," Grigson said.
"Guys want to be coached by Chuck Pagano. They want to have Andrew Luck throwing to him. They want to be around the D'Qwell Jackson's and the Cory Redding's, the Reggie Wayne's. They want to be a part of that because they know this is a legit, upfront, classy organization that's going places. That helps."
On Andrew Luck's contract situation:
Andrew Luck's rookie contract has a fifth-year option that could extend him through the 2016 season.
Reports have surfaced that the Colts had already began working on a new deal for Luck.
Grigson cleared those up on Friday.
"I think Jim (Irsay) even spoke on that. That's news to us. That's not our focus, as of right now," Grigson said.
"There will obviously be a time and place to have those discussions. Obviously, we want Andrew here for a long, long time and we'll take those steps. But right now, that's not priority number one."
On Robert Mathis' rehab:
While Grigson had similar answers to Chuck Pagano from earlier in the week regarding the retirement questions facing Cory Redding and Reggie Wayne, he offered more of an update on Robert Mathis rehabbing from an Achilles injury.
"He's still in recovery," Grigson said of the Colts all-time leading sacker.
"He's a freak and you hope that he has an athletic, genetic freak type of recovery so that he's ready day one of Training Camp. But that information is not clear yet or a timeline is not there because it's a tough injury. Hopefully in a couple months from now we'll have some information on that."On the Trent Richardson situation:
Grigson was asked about Trent Richardson, who was inactive for the last two playoff games of the season.
Richardson, who played just one snap in the Wild Card contest against Cincinnati, is under contract for next season.
"He was suspended," Grigson said of Richardson's status in the AFC Championship game.
"He's suspended for two games, for personal reasons so I can't go into that, but he was suspended."