As the NFL free agency season opened Tuesday, Colts supporters let out a collective sigh of resignation. Another key player, 26-year-old Pierre Garcon, was gone—this time to Washington.
As Tuesday and Wednesday wore on, Colts fans breathed a sigh of relief. You could almost feel the breeze from the collective “phew” let out as the Colts announced they retained wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
On Wednesday, the Colts announced they nabbed free agent defensive end Cory Redding. Again, the Horseshoe Kingdom appeared to breath a little easier.
It seems that every move—whether it’s cutting tight end Dallas Clark or dangling defensive end Dwight Freeney as trade bait—is a referendum on the new leadership duo of Colts owner Jim Irsay and General Manager Ryan Grigson.
Even the release of Peyton Manning is largely being judged in a vacuum.
But to be fair, fans have to give Grigson and Irsay time to build the machine they have made blue prints to construct. There are a lot of moving parts to an NFL football team—53 on the player side alone—and to judge each zig and zag individually is wrong-headed.
I’m not saying Grigson and Irsay have been right or wrong in anything they’ve done. I’m simply saying it’s too early to tell, and examining each piece individually won’t give fans a complete picture—and might not even make sense to those uninitiated with the blueprint.
We assume here that Irsay and Grigson do have a blueprint. Given his periodic ramblings it might appear Irsay is in fact a mad scientist. But until he has more time to fly out from under the wing of Bill Polian, let’s assume there’s a method to Irsay’s madness.
Any NFL GM worth his salt will tell you it takes a minimum of two drafts and two free agency periods to build the foundations for team success. Then it takes about half of that next season to see what gels.
By that logic, Colts fans and followers should know a lot more about the architectural and execution skills of Irsay and Grigson around Thanksgiving of 2013.
Until then, every move is just a piece in the puzzle, difficult to recognize for what it is and impossible to evaluate for what it will or won’t accomplish when it rests alongside the other pieces.