Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson met with reporters Thursday at the team complex. Here is a transcript of the interview provided by the Colts.
At the midway point in the season, what’s your take on the team?
I think we’re going in the right direction. I think we’ve had to learn some hard lessons obviously along the way. We’ve got to still continue to try to put our best four quarters together but we’re trying to play championship football. Individually, playing at a championship level is the goal. We have to at least play winning football and be trending towards playing championship football. We try to always preach that, let that be known because everything comes down to wins for our owner and that’s the approach we have to take. You have to play winning football and trending towards playing championship football across the board if we want to be in this thing.
When you put this team together and you see it play Cincinnati, then see it play Pittsburgh, how do you say, ‘What are we?’ Are you closer to one than the other?
I think it’s a byproduct of this league, maybe a byproduct of our youth. But I think this league when you play quality, proven, historic franchises like the one we’re going to be playing this week, they have a lot of banners in their indoor, too. They don’t take anyone lightly and they expect to play championship football. Every week we have to know that every week we have to bring our A-game. Like I said, we’re going to learn from this. It was a learning experience and we’re going to channel the anger, and aggression, and the disappointment from last week and turn it into a positive hopefully.
What is your evaluation of your defense?
Well I know this: across the board in all three phases, we play hard. We play hard. We’re going to always make it interesting because we don’t stop and pack it in. I feel like our defense, we continue to stay aggressive and get after people, and let the chips fall where they may. I think we have guys that kind of play well together. It’s not rhetoric; I mean for three years we’ve been preaching that it’s a team effort. It’s not an individual type thing. You have your individual pillar leaders and so forth, but we’re one of those teams that likes to play as a team and share in victories and losses, and laugh, cry together as a team. This is a team environment and it really doesn’t matter who gets the credit. It’s about wins and I think the effort is always going to be there, so we’re going to try to get better.
What are you expectations about this week and moving forward with LaRon Landry?
Well we’re going to be evaluating him. We have the exemption on him this week. We can take it off at any time up until Monday. But I think just like all the players, we have to scrutinize and look at him from every angle, see where his legs are at, today’s our first real day of practice, and just kind of take it from there and have those discussions. We’ll take it day by day.
Are you pretty satisfied with where your roster’s at this season?
I don’t think you could ever be satisfied. I don’t think so, because every week when you put on the film of somebody else, you see someone else that you think, ‘Wow, boy, he’d help us.’ So I don’t think you’re ever satisfied if you look at it from just a common sense perspective. You always want to across the board have the best players, and that’s what you strive for. Whether you can ever do that? I don’t know, but we’re going to sure try.
What were your expectations for Hakeem Nicks? Donte Moncrief has come on, and Hakeem and Andrew Luck sometimes seem like they’re not on the same page. What are your thoughts about what you wanted from Nicks and where he is now?
Well I think success comes with opportunity. He made a great play on the sideline, he’s caught some touchdowns for us this year. He’s been a pro. He’s practiced well for us and I think given the opportunity he will make plays for us. There’s still a lot of season to be played here, guys. He’s shown in the past what a playmaker he is. He’s shown in some exposures this year that he has that potential to make big plays. We’re happy with Hakeem.
Gosder Cherilus played really well for you last year, but hasn’t been very consistent the last few weeks. Is that surprising to you at all? What are your thoughts about that?
First of all, nobody was consistent last week. But I’ll say he’s been fighting through some things. He’s tough as nails and sometimes that can be to his detriment because he wants to go out there if he’s got a limb hanging. So we have to kind of try to watch what he does and monitor what he does so he can be ready and play at a high level. But like I said, it’s a Catch-22 because he wants to be out there. He wants to be out there with his guys. He doesn’t like sitting out. But he’ll get those things cleaned up and everyone has some things to get cleaned up.
Is Gosder Cherilus going to have to deal with whatever he’s dealing with for the rest of the season?
Day by day, we’ll look at this day by day.
Don’t know yet, don’t know yet. We’re monitoring it and you know, hopefully, that would be great. But we’ll have to wait until we have those meetings every night to see where guys are at.
In your mind, is this a championship-caliber team? Is this a team that should make a push?
We went into the season, every season, thinking that we can win a championship. Like I said, I don’t know why you get up every morning if you don’t believe that. I think the team that we’re playing this week at one point, my first month on the job I watched them win the Super Bowl and beat the Patriots; I think they were 7-7 at one point. This league is about peaking at the right time, getting your playmakers in positions to make plays, matchups, and then of course that ball in January and February a lot of times comes down to those physical matchups, one-on-one if you can beat the guy across from you. But I feel like this is a championship-caliber team. We just have to be more consistent, and like I said keep learning from our mistakes, our losses and so forth, and put together four quarters like we have a couple times this year.
Has anything been a pleasant surprise for you this year?
Well, I’m very happy that all our draft picks are pretty much playing or contributing. One’s starting. I see Ulrick John getting bigger in the weight room. I thought he did an admirable job against the ones from New York before he broke his leg. I’m happy. We had a small group. I’m real happy with the direction they’re headed. That’s one thing that I’m happy with.
How did Jim Irsay’s suspension affect the team and what’s it like to have him back now?
With Jim gone, things are pretty well-structured. Jim is always there for input, but he doesn’t ever force anything down our throats. Just his presence, I’ve said before, is great to see. We had alumni back after we took the team picture, just for instance I’ll give you something. We’re taking a team picture, everyone’s walking over including Mr. Irsay to the alumni guys. That’s something you can’t fake. These guys were beaming seeing him. He was the same way, hugging those guys. I think that’s great for our players to see that relationship that goes back and spans years and years and years. Because that’s real. That he truly cares about the players. If you play for the Horseshoe, you’re family. I think it’s that spirit, the expectation for excellence and that he truly cares about everyone that’s in the Horseshoe. That’s good energy. That’s good to have here.
Did LaRon Landry offer any explanation to the team on his suspension?
No, I don’t want to talk about it. That’s in-house stuff. That’s family type stuff. Those are things that happen within a family, so I’ll leave it at that.
Well, Jonotthan’s still being evaluated like everybody else but we like the direction he’s headed. We have a little bit different vantage point, little different perch than everyone else. We’re with these guys 24/7. We watch them at practice. We look at every little thing they do. I get information from every facet of this operation in this building on all those guys. I think we’re in a good situation because we have three quality guys. We have quality depth now in a spot where everyone thought the sky was falling. I feel really good about the center position right now. I think Jonotthan’s doing a heck of a job. He’s an undrafted rookie snapping to Andrew Luck. I think he’s doing well.
That decision was based off Jonotthan Harrison’s performance and not A.Q. Shipley’s, right?
I think it’s a culmination of things. You look at how it even transpired. Khaled (Holmes) is doing a great job, gets hurt. He has nine snaps to go off of in terms of his evaluation. You have practice but the games are obviously the bulk of what you go off of. If he gets another opportunity, I’m sure he’ll do well. But he’s got to stay out of the training room. I’ve told him that. That’s just the bottom line. A.Q. (Shipley) came in and played quality snaps for us. We’re upfront with these guys. Ultimately, it’s up to them. Like I said, the performance level, we’re always trying to get to a championship level, a winning level. That’s what we’re aspiring to. It’s not because we’re heartless or cold, it’s just the expectation. If you’re going to be a part of the train, you’ve got to hop on and keep playing that way.
Is there anything Andrew Luck or T.Y. Hilton are doing this year that surprises you numbers-wise?
No, I think we knew the type of talents that they were when we drafted them. Capable of explosive plays, that’s kind of been T.Y.’s calling card since watching him on those Tuesday or Wednesday night Sun Belt games, when I was on the road scouting him. You just saw this little guy that was getting behind people. He had extreme wiggle and explosion and just made play after play. That was as a returner as well. That was the first kind of lure to him. Him and Andrew are a great combo obviously. Donte (Moncrief) is starting to do some nice things, too, with his skill set. He’s an explosive player too, just in a bigger body. Not surprised but happy with where they’re going and where they’re trending.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.