When the housecleaning begins, it likely will be swift and Draconian. That’s how Colts owner Jim Irsay fixes things.
Not that starting over is a bad idea for the Indianapolis Colts, but it does raise a few questions — such as:
Why did the housecleaning of 2012 not work?
Who is responsible for the new mess?
And what will a second cleansing accomplish?
Let’s start with the first question: Why did the first housecleaning not work?
For a while, it did. Andrew Luck played way, way, way above any reasonable expectation for a rookie quarterback, and a handful of other first- and-second-year players also dramatically overachieved.
That, and interim head coach Bruce Arians worked magic while Chuck Pagano recovered from leukemia.
Powered by a potent fuel of emotion, adrenaline, determination and execution, the Colts won 11 games, made the playoffs and established the foundation for a dynasty. All they had to do was add more of the right building blocks.
But that didn’t happen.
Although Luck, and pretty much Luck alone, led the Colts to two more 11-win seasons and two more playoff appearances, little was done to upgrade the entire product. And what little was done hasn’t worked.
Free agents, for the most part, have disappointed. Some have flopped. Drafts haven’t addressed known weaknesses, and injuries have finally taken a toll.
You know, the ones to the quarterbacks — the guys who perpetually run for their lives behind arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL.
Luck has taken a pounding and, consequently, has missed about half the season. Matt Hasselbeck has taken a pounding and, consequently, has been week-to-week lately.
Both are still hurting, and both might not play in Sunday’s critical AFC South showdown against Houston — the outcome of which could determine the Colts’ playoff fate.
As for the second question: Who is responsible for the mess?
That’s easy: Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay.
Quite simply, Irsay hired Grigson to make personnel decisions. Grigson makes decisions. Irsay OKs them. That’s pretty much it.
One could argue that Grigson, a first-time general manager when he replaced Bill Polian, was in over his head to begin with. Four years into the experiment, it’s pretty obvious he was.
And now the Colts are paying the price.
An 0-2 start against pedestrian opponents, when Luck was healthy, was the first indicator that this team was not a championship contender. By midseason, it was obvious they weren’t contenders for a deep playoff run. And in the wake of two blowout losses, it’s clear they don’t even belong in the playoffs to begin with — even though they still might get there.
Coaching? Yeah, it hasn’t always been great. But as three straight 11-win seasons illustrate, it hasn’t always been terrible. At times, it’s amazing. Other times, it’s perplexing. Once in a while, it’s comical.
But when the dust clears and the detritus is examined, coaching won’t be — or at least, shouldn’t be — identified as the main source of disaster. No, the disaster here can be traced to one place: the front office.
That’s where the housecleaning should start.
Barring a miracle run to the Super Bowl, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Grigson keeps his job. And if owners fired themselves, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Irsay would keep his.
But Irsay will keep his, which brings us to the third question: What will a second rebuild accomplish?
If Grigson goes, the only way to improve the roster is to hire a better GM. Who will that be? Who knows.
If Pagano goes, which seems even more certain than Grigson’s departure, the only way to get more out of the roster is to hire a better coach.
Who will that be? Who knows.
Regardless what happens, there are no quick fixes. The roster is too broken, the dysfunction too intense, the remedies too few.
And time is not on the Colts’ side.
Luck will be in his fifth season. He has already taken a beating. If multiple Super Bowls are to be won on his watch, they better be won soon.
Let the rebuilding begin.