Earlier this week Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson won the NFL Executive of the Year. Grigson took over as Colts general manager in 2012 following the team’s 2-14 season in 2011 and led the Colts to the postseason. His main competition for the award was the Denver Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway. But Grigson is worthy of the award as he had to make more challenging decisions than Elway in 2012.
When Grigson took over the Colts in 2012, it was tough from the start. With the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Colts were definitely going to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. That left the young GM with a tough decision to make about the quarterback position. In the end, Grigson decided to release four-time MVP Peyton Manning and start fresh with Luck.
Probably the most important decisions made by Grigson were his coaching decisions. With a team full of young players, Grigson made the surprising decision to hire a head coach with no previous head coaching experience in Chuck Pagano. His job got tougher when Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia forcing Grigson to decide who would take over while Pagano went through treatment.
His decision was to choose another coach who had no head coaching experience in Bruce Arians. Arians had been the Colts quarterbacks coach from 1998-2000 and after stops in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, was brought back by Grigson to take over as offensive coordinator. Arians led the Colts to an 11-5 record and an unexpected wild card spot in the postseason.
Grigson’s competition for the Executive of the Year award, Elway, had little to do with the Broncos turnaround in 2012. The Broncos traded quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets when they were able to sign Manning following his release from the Colts. The Broncos only real weak spot in 2011 was at the quarterback position so bringing in the future Hall of Famer was not a hard decision. Manning went on to lead the Broncos, who lost in the divisional playoffs in 2011, to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the AFC.
Grigson will be challenged again heading into the 2013 season. After such an impressive 2012 campaign and with a group of young talent the Colts will be expected to improve. After his impressive one-year tenure as Colts head coach, Arians was hired away to be the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Grigson has become known for taking chances and with Arians’ replacement, he took another one choosing Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to take over the same position for the Colts.
With a new general manager, a new head coach and a new quarterback, the Colts future looked very uncertain just a year ago. But with Grigson, Pagano and Luck at those positions today, the future looks bright. And that all starts with Grigson sitting in the front office. It’s been a long year for the 40-yearold, but he’s worthy of all the accolades he has received.