Ryan Grigson Reportedly Has Long History of Overriding Chuck Pagano’s Lineup Decisions


According to WTHR’s Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has had a long history of overriding some of head coach Chuck Pagano‘s starting lineup decisions:

"There have been several – I mean, SEVERAL – occasions in the past four years when Grigson and Pagano have crossed swords over personnel issues, but these are just a few of those examples:"

"Grigson, who traded a first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson, continued to insist that Richardson play, and even start, despite the running back’s weight issues and obvious lack of production. According to sources, Grigson was concerned with creating the narrative that it was a good trade, something it clearly was not."

"Grigson insisted the Colts s continue to use Josh Cribbs, the veteran punt and kick returner he signed last season, despite the wishes of Pagano and some elements of his coaching staff. Cribbs committed a devastating fumble on a punt return in the AFC title game that opened the door to the Patriots’ 45-7 blowout."

"According to sources, when Pagano wanted to discipline players – one of them being Billy Winn, who was late for some meetings – Grigson overruled him and would not let Pagano do what he wanted to do. “The culture here now is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” a source said, pointing to the number of times Colts players have been arrested in the past year or two."

"As reported previously elsewhere and confirmed by my sources, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was forced on Pagano. Hamilton was finally fired during the season and replaced by a Pagano confidante, Rob Chudzinski. “Pep was never answerable to Chuck,” a source told me. “Pep answered to Ryan, and everybody in the building knew it.”"

Of course–if true, this only confirms what had already been widely speculated. That is, that Grigson’s reach of personnel decisions has extended well beyond what has been typically expected of an NFL general manager.

While general manager’s typically stockpile talent and fill the roster to the best of their ability, it’s generally the coach’s responsibility to play the best starting lineup and to ensure that the best players simply play on gameday.

Kravitz isn’t alone in providing history of Grigson interfering with Pagano’s coaching staff’s lineup decisions, as ESPN’s Mike Wells gave another example:

"“Several players, according to sources, went to Pagano questioning why they made the switch from A.Q. Shipley to Jonotthan Harrison at center during the 2014 season. Sources said Grigson wanted to make the switch despite Shipley doing a serviceable job at the position,” writes Wells."

It’s likely hard enough for Pagano to win without star quarterback Andrew Luck–who’s missed 9 games this season because of injury. Let alone, when he doesn’t have complete control over his assumed on-the-field and locker room responsibilities.

Dec 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano yells out from the sideline during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Colts won 18-12. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If a coach can’t play who he wants to play, let alone properly discipline his players, that’s trouble. It’s hard to reasonably hold that head coach accountable.

Not to mention, while Grigson has hit some home runs on players, he’s also had his fair share of well-documented strikeouts regarding personnel–and such failures and their lack of success can’t be blamed on Pagano.

That being said, that’s not to say Pagano is some sort of football martyr or entirely blameless either.

In 2012, the 55 year old defensive minded head coach was brought in to shore up the Colts defense. Yet, the Colts since 2012 have ranked 21st, 9th, 19th, and just recently, 25th in allowed points per game respectively–showing both a lack of progress and improvement under his tutelage.

While some of that can be attributed to lacking youthful impact players defensively–which falls largely on management’s shoulders, Pagano’s teams have continued to get routinely blown out–not just beat by the NFL’s better teams:

Against elite quarterbacks–namely the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, Pagano’s teams have routinely been blown out. Against better competition, they simply haven’t won enough games.

For perspective, Pagano is 19-4 against the woeful AFC South in 4 seasons (.826), yet 21-19 (0.525) against everyone else. Overall, he’s 40-23 (.635), which is good, but could admittedly be better, having had the luxury of playing in the AFC South.

When owner Jim Irsay brought both Grigson and Pagano onboard, he planned of winning multiple Super Bowls with Luck at the helm, not just one.

Or in this case none. 

Right now, neither Grigson nor Pagano has completely fulfilled expectations, as no new Super Bowl rings have been added to Irsay’s fingers after 4 seasons. Needless to say, there’s plenty of blame to go all around.

Still, Grigson presumably hasn’t made Pagano’s coaching life any easier by overriding some of his lineup decisions.

The Colts simply have too many cooks in the kitchen right now, wearing too many hats, and now Irsay is left to either sort it out or find new help all together.

Dec 27, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano looks on from the sideline during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Colts won 18-12. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports