INDIANAPOLIS – Fans weren’t alone in their topsy-turvy journey through the Colts season just past.
Ryan Grigson fully understands the emotions that fluctuated over 16 games regular season games in 2013 and a pair of playoff contests in 2014. He, like them, would like it to stop.
“We’ve got to put it together for four quarters, we can’t have the roller coaster ride,” said the Colts’ general manager at his year-end news conference on Thursday afternoon.
It wasn’t like he was being down on the team. If anything he was a realist. Grigson is proud of what his team accomplished in another 11-5 season that included his first playoff win in his regime and believes that finding consistency is a matter of youth and time.
“If you look at our team and our wins, we’ve beaten the best. It’s already been stated, but three of the four teams in this, this team has beaten. And then the other team, we were down by seven in the fourth quarter to,” said Grigson, referring to the fact that the Colts defeated all but one of the NFL conference finalists. “We are a very young team, led by a young quarterback. Everybody in this organization is pretty darn new and we all don’t have years and years of experience in our select positions.
“But we’re growing together as a family and we’re building this thing the right way.”
The right direction too, according to Grigson. Indeed the Colts advance one more step in the playoffs than they did the season before an won their first AFC South title in four seasons. While it fell short of the Super Bowl win that the team talked about since arriving in Anderson for training camp in August, Grigson believes the team is improving.
“Ithink the new guys will be better from this year to next as well,” said Grigson. “So we’re all very optimistic because just in the progression we’ve been going, that obviously would be the expectation is we want to be heading in that direction, to win a championship and to keep winning them. That’s what our owner’s charged me with building, so that’s where my mind’s at.”
But there are a few things that he’ll have to take care of to make that happen in 2014-and his hand maybe forced early. On Thursday Grigson confirmed that Vanderbilt has asked for permission to talk to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton about their head coaching position.
On top of that, reports have quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen possibly joining Jim Caldwell’s staff in Detroit as an offensive coordinator.
“It’s part of this business,” said Grigson of assistant coaches moving to different jobs. “That’s why you got to have ‘next man up’ with your coaching staff as well. It’s nothing that is unusual. It’s something you hope you don’t have to walk into again the day after the season is over.”
At least one thing Grigson was confident to address on Thursday was the status of running back Trent Richardson with the team. Acquired in September for this year’s No. 1 draft pick, Richardson fell short of expectations from a production standpoint as he averaged just 2.9 yards a carry and failed to gain over 64 yards in a game.
Yet Grigson threw his full support behind the running back for the future-and praised him for the job he did without the ball in 2013.
“We have patience. He’s not going anywhere. We have him for the long haul,” said Grigson of Richardson. “We don’t win 12 games this year if Trent Richardson isn’t here. That’s just a fact. We had a guy get hurt, our starter get hurt and the mindset here is we are not going to just go reach for a guy. We want to go out and get the best available guy, not just the best guy, we are going to go to the hill to get the best we can.
“I think Trent fits all the things that we are trying to do here. If it isn’t this year, it’s going to be next year because he’s going to have the offseason. He’s going to be dialed in as a pro.”
While sure of Richardson, Grigson wouldn’t commit to any other free agents on Thursday. He stressed the need to let the emotional sting of a playoff loss wear off before beginning to make key decisions for the franchise. He said there has been just one meeting with the top members of the organization since the end of the season and that due diligence will be taken to decide who to bring back.
“It’s too fresh. It’s hard to say right now definitively that needs to be fixed, that needs to be fixed even though we have the full body of work at our disposal from all the film we’ve watched, because there’s still emotion involved,” said Grigson. “So I think you need to step away. We need to have discussions. The league year doesn’t start until March 11. We got to be smart and succinct with our approach. Everybody wants to have it now in the microwave society and open the microwave door before the time’s even up.
“But we’ve got to have some patience and build this thing the right way with these young players we have.”
Perhaps with a little less stress in 2014.