AL HAMNIK: Game on for Colts' general manager Ryan Grigson

2014-01-28T17:00:00Z 2014-01-31T16:50:14Z AL HAMNIK: Game on for Colts' general manager Ryan GrigsonAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
January 28, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

The Broncos and Seahawks clash for NFL supremacy on Sunday.

We know what the Bears must do to climb that same stage one day — rebuild their defense and pray Jay Cutler stays healthy.

Which brings us to the Indianapolis Colts, who many believe will return to that marquee game before their Illinois neighbors do.

I wouldn't bet against Indy for one reason — Highland grad Ryan Grigson, its razor-sharp general manager.

Grigson recently met with media for a 2013 wrapup that saw his team go 11-5 in the regular season, capture its first AFC South crown since the Peyton Manning era, return to the playoffs, and finish 12-6.

Indy also beat three of the Final Four teams — Denver, Seattle and San Francisco.

Next stop: Win it all, baby.

The always appreciative Grigson started off his news conference by thanking owner/CEO Jim Irsay for "guiding me from the beginning in the darkest days of this endeavor."

He thanked coach Chuck Pagano for "being a rock through the storms we've had to take on the last two years (inheriting a 2-14 team)."

He praised the Colts staff for its intestinal fortitude through numerous personnel changes.

He thanked the scouts "who get left in the dust," are away from their families for months, and help separate the wheat from the chaff with the players they find.

And lastly, Grigson thanked Colts' fans, 'The 12th Man,' who make Lucas Oil Stadium rock until its walls shake.

There will be changes this offseason on the roster and coaching staff, he said. It can't be helped.

"If you're good, you're going to be in demand from other teams," Grigson said. "I was on the phone with another team. They're just getting raided left and right. It's the byproduct of success."

He said the Colts need to be more consistent as a whole. They can't beat a great team one week, then lose by 40 points the next. Players and coaches can't rest on their laurels.

There will be intense competition for jobs — the mindset of iron sharpens iron, he calls it — and this will be no rush job.

"We've got to be smart and succinct with our approach," Grigson added. "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 patience and build this thing the right way with these young players we have."

The Colts are young at key skill positions and have game-changers on defense, leading one to believe they might have gone deeper in the playoffs if not for 17 players on IR.

Indy will be a major player in free agency, too, thanks to Irsay's deep pockets. Being $31 million under the salary cap won't hurt.

The Colts' frustrating playoff loss to New England will probably stay with Grigson until the May draft. This is no time for a short memory.

"We're not nearly satisfied," he said. "To say we were not disappointed that we're not in New York this year would be a lie. But we are going in the right direction.

"We have a nucleus of young players and a young quarterback that's shown some rare intangibles under fire. We've seen that from a bird's eye and to me it's glaring."

And then Grigson smiled, not for the TV cameras, but from the heart.

Game on.

Watch out, NFL.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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