Replacing Grigson: What Does Move Mean?

Could Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg follow Ryan Grigson to the Colts? (Ron Cortes/Staff File Photo)

Got the first e-mail early this morning from a Midwest reporter, looking for me to fill him in on Ryan Grigson, the Eagles' player personnel director who will be introcuced as the Indianapolis Colts' GM at 4 p.m. today.

My response was less than helpful. I know Grigson is a really, really big guy (6-6, 290) who played tight end and offensive tackle at Purdue. I know at Senior Bowl practices, Grigson and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman were inseparable. I know he's polite, always says "hi." I know the Eagles value his scouting expertise very highly, he rose steadily through the ranks over nine seasons, after being hired as a Western scout.

Roseman issued a statement today: “Although we will miss Ryan personally and professionally we could not be happier for him. He has been a great advisor to me and somebody I have leaned on to bounce ideas off of many times over my career. He leaves no stone left unturned in his efforts to find good players and we were lucky to have him here in Philadelphia. In addition to his skills as a talent evaluator, we can’t say enough about Ryan as a person. He is one of the best family men I have come across in the NFL and we wish he, Cynthia and his children all the best.”

But the Eagles don't make it easy to know people in positions such as Grigson's. He was not allowed to do more than exchange pleasantries with reporters. Anything the Eagles had to say about scouting or the draft had to go through Roseman, not Grigson.

My impression is that Grigson was basically the college scouting guy -- the Eagles don't currently have anyone with the title of "director of college scouting." Grigson runs the draft prep, and pro personnel director Louis Riddick runs pro scouting, for the guys you nab off other teams' cut lists and the like.

So, although Riddick has the title just below Grigson on the personnel side, it might not be logical to assume he'll get the vacated job -- he isn't really a college scout. Likewise, former Ravens and Browns exec Phil Savage works in more of an advisory capacity to Roseman, he is not a full-time scouting employee either.

It'll be interesting to see if the Eagles go outside the organization for a replacement. That might be thorny, given that Roseman didn't come up through the scouting ranks and has never worked for another organization -- he wouldn't seem to have a deep list of former coworkers to work from there.

On, Tommy Lawlor suggests current assistant director of college scouting Anthony Patch is the logical guy to succeed Grigson. Given that we're talking about the secretive Eagles here, I have never met Antony Patch and wouldn't know him from Patch Adams, but he is indeed a college scouting guy who has been with the organization longer (10 seasons) than anyone else on the scouting side.

Of course, Patch could end up going with Grigson, as could other scouts, as usually happens in such situations. But as Lawlor points out, scouts' contracts usually expire right AFTER the draft, so losing Grigson won't necessarily hamstring the Birds heading into April.

Couple other points: Lots of folks are suggesting that Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would be a logical head coach for the Colts, give that they are expected to draft Andrew Luck first overall. That part makes sense. But a decade has passed since Marty's two-year tenure as a head coach in Detroit. Yes, all that was pretty much Matt Millen's fault, but I think a lot of NFL people think like I do -- Marty is a great guy, wonderful to talk football with, maybe a genius in his own quirky way, but there is that word "quirky." Marty kind of comes off in public like your beloved absent-minded uncle. There was a time, before every minute of every NFL day was chronicled on the league's own network, before YouTube and Twitter, when eccentric, off-beat people got NFL head coaching jobs. I'm not sure that time hasn't passed.

Last year, the Eagles really pushed the idea of Marty as head coach in Cleveland, where former Eagles GM Tom Heckert and Andy Reid mentor Mike Holmgren run the shop. Holmgren, of course, also has extensive history with Mornhinweg. Marty didn't get an interview. They hired Pat Shurmur, who once was the Eagles' quarterbacks coach under Marty.

Also, Grigson is a bit of a surprise hire to replace Bill Polian. The emergence of Colts owner Jim Irsay's public persona over the past few years -- the funniest NFL owner on Twitter, hands down -- raises the question of whether Irsay perhaps sees himself as a midwestern Jerry Jones. Will Grigson really be hiring the coach? Is it a coincidence that to replace Polian, a longtime NFL heavyweight who left no doubt who was running the show, the Colts picked a man who doesn't turn 40 until next month and has always been a behind-the-scenes sort of person?

One things for sure: On draft day, when Roseman gets the urge to stockpile more sixth-round draft picks, he has more options than just Heckert when he picks up the phone. Prepare to see some recyled Eagles draftees in Colts uniforms next season.