AFC South: Tom Telesco

Ryan Grigson took a hit when his right hand man in the Indianapolis front office, Tom Telesco, was hired as the general manager of the San Diego Chargers.

“Tom will be great in San Diego,” said ESPN analyst Bill Polian, who ran the Colts before Grigson took over last year and worked closely with Telesco. “The organization fits him and they have a quarterback (in Philip Rivers) which none of the other new GMs have. He will be sorely missed by the Colts because he was the only experienced football administrator.”

To replace Telesco, Grigson has hired a former member of the Chargers front office who competed with Telesco for the Chargers job.

And Jimmy Raye gives the Colts an experienced football administrator.

Raye has 18 years of NFL experience, including the last 17 with the Chargers. He served as San Diego’s director of player personnel from 2008-2012, overseeing the team’s professional and college scouting departments while assisting on player personnel matters.

“We’re excited to be adding someone as high caliber as Jimmy Raye to the Colts organization,” said Grigson said in a statement. “He has a strong football pedigree, is highly intelligent, and is a top notch evaluator along with being a great human being. I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves with him this offseason as we hit the ground running into free agency, the draft, and beyond.”

Raye worked as a scout and as director of college scouting with the Chargers before he was elevated to director of player personnel. He was offensive quality control coach for the Kansas City Chief in 1995.

Arians keen on Telesco in San Diego

January, 10, 2013
Bruce Arians only had one interview scheduled at the time he spoke with The Mighty 1090 in San Diego. That’s Sunday with the Chicago Bears.

But the San Diego Chargers are interested in him as well, and he discussed his interest in that job during the interview.
On if he’d be interested in coaching the Chargers:

“I would be now that Tommy’s [Telesco] there. I think so much of [the] success that teams have are great relationships between general manager and head coach. And it’s not who has control of the roster, it’s how do we get the best players? … I had the opportunity to work for 12 weeks as a head coach this year with Ryan Grigson and Tommy Telesco, and it was a fantastic relationship. And I wouldn’t want to work in any other situation as a head coach, unless it’s that type of relationship where nobody’s got a power player [and] we’re all in this together trying to win.”

On why he and the Chargers haven’t set something up yet:

“I think all that’s gonna take shape. If Tommy wants to reach out and the Chargers want to reach out, we’ll listen. It’s just a timeframe — Chicago was the first ones to ask for permission. I’m going to give them the first interviews. … I have a great job in Indianapolis. It’s going to have to be a perfect fit for me to leave what we have done here, and not just to jump out to be a head coach. It’s going to have to be a perfect fit, and obviously my relationship with Tommy makes it a lot easier.”

See more or listen to the interview through Sports Radio Interviews.
In their news release announcing Tom Telesco as their new GM, the San Diego Chargers included comments from Bill Polian and Tony Dungy who worked with the Colts.

“I’m thrilled that Tom has been named the general manager of the Chargers,” said Polian, now an ESPN analyst. “He is a first-rate executive, a first-rate football man and a first-rate person. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for over 20 years. I can assure you and assure all Chargers fans that he will do a great job for them.”

“I had the privilege of working with Tom for seven years in Indianapolis,” said Dungy, who works for NBC. "He is a great football man, but also a great person. He understands the game. He knows what good players look like. He is just very adept at identifying them and finding them. More than that, I think he understands what makes a good organization. I think he is going to be fantastic for the Chargers. I’m excited for Tom and excited for the Chargers organization.”

It's not yet clear what Colts general manager Ryan Grigson will do to replace Telesco, who was promoted to vice president of football operations last year.

The four highest-ranking men under Grigson now are director of football administration Mike Bluem, director of college scouting T.J. McCreight, associate director of pro personnel Kevin Rogers and pro scouting coordinator Andrew Berry.

In a news release from the Colts, Grigson was also effusive in his praise of Telesco.

“I cannot say enough about Tom Telesco and I speak for everyone in this building," Grigson said. "Despite him being here for 14 seasons prior to our new regime, Tom bought in from Day 1, and the professionalism he showed on a daily basis never wavered. We developed a strong bond during this special season and I will forever be grateful for having him at my side since Jan. 11th. He was instrumental in our success this year, and I couldn’t have asked for a better right-hand man.

"He helped lay our foundation of a new era, and was a living example in every area of his duties of the mantra Coach (Chuck) Pagano preached from Day 1 in terms of 'Trust, Loyalty & Respect.' I don’t know a finer football man/person than Tom Telesco. He is very deserving of this privilege, and the San Diego Chargers are in great hands. On behalf of the entire Colts organization we wish Tom, Larah and his children nothing but the best as they begin this new journey together.”

Two GM jobs have been filled in the last two days, and two guys who worked for Bill Polian in Indianapolis got the jobs.

First David Caldwell moved from the Falcons' front office to Jacksonville to replace the fired Gene Smith. Now Tom Telesco, who stayed on in the Colts' front office with Ryan Grigson after Polian was fired last year, is the new GM of the San Diego Chargers.

Telesco will be introduced this afternoon.

He spent 15 years with the Colts, and under Grigson was promoted to vice president of football operations. For six years before that he was director of player personnel

I don’t know Telesco at all, but have consistently heard good things about him and his ability to evaluate talent. Not all quality talent evaluators turn out to be good GMs, so tracking the Chargers going forward will be an interesting storyline, like with all the teams installing new regimes.

Bruce Arians is a candidate for the Chargers’ vacant head-coaching job. Will Telesco help get a guy he worked with in 2012 the big job?

More to come in the coming days.

On Arians, Dennison and Telesco

January, 7, 2013
An update on interviews for coaches and executives in the AFC South:

Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will interview with the Chicago Bears. I understand the Bears' interest as Dennison worked with both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall in Denver. If you are intrigued by a system like the Redskins and Texans run, there aren’t a lot of guys to hire who could bring it. But it’s dangerous to hire a coach in large part because of his connection with some of your personnel. And I’m not sure Dennison has a head coach personality/persona.

Indianapolis vice president of football operations Tom Telesco has interviewed with the San Diego Chargers for their open GM job. Indications are he’s very much in the mix. He has a great reputation.

Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians appears to be in line to interview with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bears, the Chargers and the Cleveland Browns. He was ill on Sunday and was in a hospital during the Colts' loss to Baltimore. Once he's recovered he's a prime candidate. How many teams have a chance to hire a guy who could win coach of the year for his interim work? Arians could be great for Cutler or Philip Rivers, quarterbacks who’ve already had some success in the league.
What would Andrew Luck tell someone who asked him what kind of head coach Bruce Arians would be?

"Terrible things," Luck told Indianapolis media Wednesday. "Terrible, terrible things."

Then he smiled.

The Colts would hate to lose such a valuable assistant, and Arians is a favorite to win or share coach-of-the-year honors based on his interim work for Indianapolis this season. The Colts were 9-3 while head coach Chuck Pagano was out for leukemia treatment and Arians, the offensive cordinator, was running things at team headquarters in his stead.

[+] EnlargeBruce Arians
AP Photo/Scott Boehm)Bruce Arians says he'd like a shot at being a head coach, and it seems likely the Colts would allow it.
Arians said in early December while he thought his age (60) wouldn’t make him especially desirable, that he wants to be an NFL head coach.

I asked him if he expected a team looking for a quarterback-developing head coach to call him, if he’d earned that?

"Well, I don’t know," Arians said. "That’s up to the owners and the general managers at this point to decide what they are looking for. I’m not going to hold my breath at my age and where I am at in my career. I’d love to have the opportunity to talk to one, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m cool with it.”

If one of the teams with an open head-coaching position wants to talk to Arians, they’ll have to ask the Colts for permission. I have not been able to learn if another team has asked for that permission.

If one or more do, I believe the Colts would grant it, as they wouldn’t want to keep Arians against his will and prevent him from a promotion. I’ve seen reports that the Colts have granted permission for vice president of football operations Tom Telesco to talk to San Diego about the franchise's open general-manager job, though I’ve not been able to confirm that myself.

If the Colts said yes to a request on Telesco, they’d surely say yes to one for Arians.

Should the Colts lose Sunday in Baltimore, Arians could then interview for jobs.

Should they win, here’s what the league’s rules on tampering dictate could happen going forward:

“For assistant coaches of clubs that participate in a Wild Card game and advance to the Divisional Playoffs, interviews must be conducted after the Wild Card games and prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games. An inquiring club is permitted only one interview with an assistant coach while his team is competing in the postseason, and there shall be no other direct or indirect contact between any employee or agent of the inquiring club and the assistant coach or any representative or agent of the assistant coach.”

Three other points:

  • If the Colts advanced to the Super Bowl, they could grant permission for a second interview after the conference championship but no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.
  • A contract couldn’t be agreed upon until the Colts were finished playing.
  • If the Colts grant permission to one team, they would have to grant permission to any team that asks. “Permission cannot be granted selectively,” the tampering policy says.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

Long the Texans’ brightest star, receiver Andre Johnson has finally made it to the big playoff stage, writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Slowed by two hamstring injuries this season, Johnson promised that he will be playing at a high level against Cincinnati.

How does the Texans’ lack of playoff experience factor in to what may happen, asks Steve Campbell.

Danieal Manning has the most playoff experience on the Texans, and he’s turned up the focus and intensity as he gets ready, says Jerome Solomon.

Indianapolis Colts

Bill Polian told AP that the lack of a backup plan at quarterback ultimately cost him his job. That's true, in that if he had a better plan the team would have won more games and he probably would have survived. But there were a lot of bigger issues we've covered.

The Colts have asked permission to talk to Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta about their GM job, an Indianapolis Star report says. Colts director of player personnel Tom Telesco also appears to be in the mix. Adam Schefter says Green Bay Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey declined an interview.

A look at some GM possibilities from Phil Richards of the Star.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Owner Shahid Khan says what people are seeing about the Jaguars’ coaching search is just the tip of the iceberg, writes Tania Ganguli. But there are three primary targets and NFL Network says Jay Gruden is a favorite.

Tennessee Titans

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean hands out his awards for the Titans’ season. Toughest call, I think, was defensive player of the year where he went with cornerback Jason McCourty. There is a case to be made there, but even without starting all season I’d lean to rookie middle linebacker Colin McCarthy.

Secondary coach Marcus Robertson was surprised to be let go, he told Wyatt.