Wilson's Word: Cuts send clear message

While the Colts continue to win NFL games and are a perennial playoff contender, the organization must have less tolerance for player transgressions and lack of production.

Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is cleaning up his roster a bit early in getting rid of safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Andrew Jackson and offensive tackle Xavier Nixon on Wednesday.

It was about time for some damage control. It was actually overdue.

That’s hopefully just the beginning. Running back Trent Richardson should go, too, as well as some others. But we’ll worry about saying good-bye to T-Rich when the time comes.

Despite another 11-5 season and playoff success, the Colts have had too many names show up in police blotters this past calendar year. When it keeps happening, Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano must reinforce there are severe consequences for embarrassing the organization.

The time for lip service is past. If it’s not backed up with harsh punishment, players don’t get the message. That’s young guys who get second chances. That’s older ones who should also know better. Lest anyone forget leading tackler D’Qwell Jackson allegedly punched out a pizza driver recently in a dispute over a parking space and linebacker Josh McNary is on the commissioner’s exempt list after being arrested for rape.

Andrew Jackson had two DUIs in a year. That’s a rookie with a problem. Hope he gets help, and maybe a second chance because he screwed this one up.

Nixon didn’t play well after the Colts designated him to return from IR, but then he somehow misses the flight for the most important game of the season? It’s only the AFC Championship Game. That sure seems like the time to arrive extra early at the airport.

I thought it interesting that the Colts waived Nixon, although he doesn’t have a contract after this current one runs out at the end of this month. Why bother if he’s going to be a free agent? Because maybe this was about sending a message.

That truly started with Landry, who did just about everything possible to ensure his stay in Indy would be abbreviated. The Colts gave him $24 million, $11 of that guaranteed. They thought they were getting a Pro Bowl defender, a guy who would be a physical presence on the back line for four seasons.

Instead, they added a selfish player who will be remembered more in two years for Twitter selfies of his upper body than making game-changing plays. They got a guy who basically stuck to himself, didn’t care to share much with the media, and never seemed to fit.

What resonated with me was after he had been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He wasn’t as contrite as I would expect a team player to be in his locker-room interview. Everything was already in the past, he continually said, although we never had the chance before to ask him about his transgression. You want to hear a guy take responsibility for a mistake. If he did, I sure didn’t buy it, not by the way he sounded.

On the field, we quickly saw him get worked in the passing game. Even after he finally got his starting job back last season, I remember the one touchdown that Denver scored in the playoffs was against Landry. And the play to set up the score was on him, too.

There were missed tackles, too. The enduring image of the Colts’ defensive collapse a year ago was Landry missing LeGarrette Blount on that long TD run. Everybody played awful, just like this past January, but some plays you just never forget.

So the Colts will have to take a bit of a hit in dead money on the salary cap, but they’ll also save some bucks, too — that number by my count was about $3 million in savings over two years, but I’ve read others who have reported something closer to $2 million.

Whatever, the Colts moved on. And I was kind of hoping they would. He was a monster for his first two games in blue and white, piling up 26 tackles, then he disappeared. For two years.

In the aftermath of the latest Patriots debacle in Foxborough, Mass., Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne raised eyebrows by saying it was important for some of his teammates to decide if they were going to buy into what the Colts were building. He didn’t name names, but we’re seeing some of what Wayne was talking about now.

As much as the Colts have won in three years, they’ve made their share of mistakes. You expect them on the field because the other guys are professionals, too. Front-office moves aren’t always going to work, not that they are excused as an occupational hazard because if money isn’t spent wisely, that sets the team back. And off-field issues speak to the character of individuals, or lack thereof.

If the Colts are going to take that next step and get to the Super Bowl during this regime, they need more guys with character who play for each other in a team game as opposed to just characters who are in the NFL to make money and merely take care of themselves.

Today was a much-needed start toward setting an important agenda for next season. We can only hope that the guys who remain get the message.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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