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Colts' rookie Grigson still holding his own


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INDIANAPOLIS — The two touchdowns prior to halftime were scored by rookies. Second-half trips to the end zone came from a player who’s in his first season with the franchise and, yes, another rookie.

Are you detecting a pattern here with the Indianapolis Colts?

Even though the coming years will ultimately pen Ryan Grigson’s legacy as an NFL executive, it’s difficult to imagine a first-year general manager firing out of the starter’s blocks any faster.

Grigson, too, is a rookie. A 40-year-old rookie.

In this past April’s draft, he selected quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1, then added tight ends Coby Fleener (2nd round) and Dwayne Allen (3rd), a much-needed speed receiver in T.Y. Hilton (3rd), hard-nosed running back Vick Ballard (5th) and receiver LaVon Brazill (6th) among others.

It’s now apparent Grigson’s first draft wasn’t merely a home run, but a ball that refuses to land.

Now factor in various roster additions throughout the regular season and whatever influence Grigson might have had in bringing head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to Indianapolis.

The man does not push random buttons. Just the right ones. I don’t know what Grigson’s salary is. Whatever it is, he’s earned it.

Colts owner Jim Irsay clearly unearthed a gem when he hired Grigson, formerly director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles. Irsay’s next move should be to make sure he keeps his man because NFL owners with pockets deeper than his might one day be trying to lure Grigson away.

What’s ironic is Grigson is following a legend, something athletes, coaches and execs are constantly instructed not to do.

Former Colts GM Bill Polian might be one of the best in league history. Canton will one day call and Polian will be fitted for a yellow jacket and begin thinking of names to include in his acceptance speech.

But when Elvis left the stage, Grigson, undaunted, started belting out winners.

Proof of Grigson’s decision-making has been on display throughout the Colts’ magical 16-game ride. However, it might have achieved new heights in Sunday’s 28-16 win against Houston.

Indianapolis’ defense sacked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub four times. One came from franchise legend Dwight Freeney, the other three by players who weren’t even with the team during preseason training camp or, for that matter, the month of September.

Second-year defensive end Clifton Geathers is the wise old veteran of the group having been signed to the practice squad Oct. 3. The other two, end Lawrence Guy and rush linebacker Jamaal Westerman, were signed by the Colts on Oct. 17 and Dec. 4, respectively.

The next-man-up mentality works best when the right players are brought in to fit the system. It’s difficult to argue with anything Grigson has done.

One of the different aspects about Grigson is his appearance. The former Purdue offensive lineman still looks as though he could make a blocking sled move simply by staring at it, which alone sets him apart from the majority of other NFL executives.

But it’s brains, not brawn, that has Indianapolis back in the playoffs.

And with the 2013 NFL Draft scheduled for April 25-27 in New York City, Grigson will have one tough act to follow: his own.

Mike Beas is sports editor for the Daily Journal, a sister paper to The Republic. He can be reached at mbeas@therepublic.com.

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