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Grigson failed Luck, allowed Colts roster to grow stale

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Five years after earning NFL Executive of the Year honors and one year after signing a contract extension, Ryan Grigson is out as Colts general manager.

The story of Grigson's five-year tenure in Indianapolis is one of immediate success followed by steady regression.

Although Grigson was gifted can't-miss quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, he deserves credit for a loaded 2012 draft class that helped propel the Colts to 33 regular-season wins and three playoff victories in his first three years on the job.

Since Luck led the team to the 2014 AFC Championship Game, though, the roster has fallen into a state of disrepair. Failing to take advantage of a weak AFC South that awards divisional titles on silver platters, the Colts have missed the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time this century.

Where did all go wrong?

Grigson can trace his demise to a September 2013 gamble on Browns running back Trent Richardson. That blockbuster was an abject failure, with Grigson forfeiting his 2014 first-round pick.

While Richardson stands as the poster child for running-back busts, the Colts went nearly four years without a 100-yard rusher in their backfield.

Grigson had plenty of opportunities to recover from that swing-and-miss, only to continue striking out in free agency and the draft.

Armed with a precocious franchise quarterback, an abundance of salary-cap space and a clear path to the top of the division, Grigson had a prime opportunity to recapture the dynasty days of the Peyton Manning era.

Instead, his shopping sprees produced an endless string of overpaid, underperforming veterans such as LaRon Landry, Gosder Cherilus, Todd Herremans, Donald Thomas, Arthur Jones, Trent Cole and Andre Johnson.

The draft results weren't much better. There isn't a single player from the 2013 class left on the roster, with first-round pass rusher Bjoern Warner flaming out in less than three years. Grigson devoted 10 draft picks to the offensive line in five years, only to see Luck get battered more than any quarterback in the league over that span.

While Luck's offense was strong enough to carry the Colts into the postseason in 2013 and 2014, any hopes of a Super Bowl appearance faded as the soft, talent-poor defense surrendered over 300 yards and seven touchdowns to Patriots bruiser LeGarrette Blount in back-to-back, season-ending lopsided losses.

As Grigson examined his roster following the 2014 AFC Championship Game, it had to have been obvious that the aging defense and struggling offensive line were areas in desperate need of a talent influx.

Rather than targeting a high-end pass rusher or stud offensive lineman, Grigson pulled the trigger on undersized wide receiver Phillip Dorsett with his next first-round pick. Had Dorsett lived up to the post-draft hype as a DeSean Jackson clone, perhaps Luck's offense would have had enough firepower to sneak past a Texans team held hostage by the quarterback. As it turned out, Dorsett has been one of the least productive wideouts in the league, failing to make plays for Luck.

When owner Jim Irsay reviews the past half-decade, he sees that too many of the organization's most productive players have been holdovers from the previous regime -- such as wide receiver Reggie Wayne, pass rusher Robert Mathis, left tackle Anthony Castonzo, kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Pat McAfee.

Worse, he sees the state of Grigson's handiwork in a roster that features a generational quarterback talent surrounded by journeyman castoffs, failed free-agent acquisitions and underperforming draft picks.

With $55 million to spend when free agency kicks off in March, it's hardly a surprise that Irsay is picking someone else to do the shopping this time around.

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