Ryan Grigson Failed Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Ryan Grigson

How did this happen? How did the greatest quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning call it a career at age 29? Who expected Andrew Luck to end his career before Tom Brady, Drew Breesand Adam Vinatieri? This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but former Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson found a way to ruin one of the greatest quarterback talents in recent memory.

Ryan Grigson’s Failure Lives On in Indianapolis

Grigson initially took the reins following the Colts’ disastrous 2-14 2011 campaign. This wasn’t going to be an easy fix, as this roster had several holes from top to bottom. Peyton Manning had a neck injury, and nobody knew if he’d ever be the same. Fortunately, the Colts had the best quarterback prospect since Manning eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft: Andrew Luck.

Grigson made the easy decision to take Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Thanks to Luck’s greatness and interim head coach Bruce Arians‘ cunning, the Colts pulled off an unlikely 11-5 campaign and made it back to the playoffs. While they didn’t make it past the Wild Card round, this was an encouraging start to Grigson’s tenure. Andrew Luck played as well as you could have hoped and the future looked bright.

This success wasn’t just due to Luck, as Grigson’s first draft looked like one for the ages. Fourth-round pick T.Y. Hilton looked like a stud deep threat, Vick Ballard recorded 814 rushing yards, and the tight end duo of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen looked downright deadly.

The Fallout

Unfortunately, 2012 was largely a mirage. While Hilton turned into a star, the rest of that draft class didn’t do much. Fleener and Allen never became anything more than replacement-level tight ends, while Ballard couldn’t stay on the field. This left the 2013 Colts with the same barren roster as before, and no clear fixes. The biggest problem was the offensive line, which allowed way too many hits on Luck. Grigson inexplicably continued to ignore the offensive line issue, as the former general manager only drafted three offensive linemen in the first six rounds during his tenure.

Making matters worse is that the players he did draft were not good. Hugh Thornton, Jack Mewhortand Khaled Holmes were all objectively bad and none remain with the team today. The free agent signees weren’t any better, as high-profile players like Donald Thomas failed to make a significant impact on the roster.

Neglecting the offensive line is bad enough, but Grigson continuously failed to bring in impact players using those early draft picks. From 2013 to 2015, Grigson drafted Bjoern Werner and Phillip Dorsett in the first round and sent another first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Trent Richardson. Dorsett is the only player still in the NFL, and he hasn’t played for the Colts since 2016.

Too Little, Too Late

This complete neglect of the offensive line forced Luck to take 100 sacks over the first three years of his career. The sack totals don’t tell the whole story, as Luck was constantly under pressure on each and every snap. Predictably enough, Luck started to break down and missed nine games in 2015. Grigson finally learned the error of his ways and drafted Ryan Kelly with their first-round pick in 2016.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. After a disappointing 2016, Grigson got the boot and the Colts hired Chris Ballard to rebuild the roster. Luck missed all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, and Ballard used the season to reconstruct a competent roster in his image.

The results were amazing. After just one year, Ballard created a top-five offensive line and installed a fantastic head coach in Frank Reich. Reich implemented a quick passing scheme which allowed Luck to evade hits and stay upright. For the first time in his career, the best quarterback prospect of a generation had a worthy head coach and general manager. Despite missing all of 2017, Luck led the Colts to a 10-6 record and a playoff win in 2018.

2019 was supposed to be Andrew Luck’s year. Now placed in an ideal situation, Luck had all the tools required for a Super Bowl run. Unfortunately, Grigson simply broke Luck beyond repair. Luck chose retirement following his lengthy battle with injuries, and it’s hard to blame him for that decision. Over the past six years, Luck has suffered rib, abdominal, concussion, shoulder, kidney, and calf injuries, and the human body can only take so much.

It’s just a shame that it had to end this way. If Luck had Ballard and Reich from the beginning, he’d probably have a decade-long Hall of Fame career ahead of him. Instead, Ryan Grigson took one of the game’s best prospects and slowly but surely tore him apart.

Farewell, Andrew Luck. You deserved better.

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