During a press briefing with reporters Tuesday, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard acknowledged that he’s «failed» the team this season. The longtime team executive mentioned that his overall approach to the 2022 season was partly responsible for his shortcomings.
Ballard also pointed to the organization’s instability at the quarterback position as one of the reasons for the disappointing seasons. The Colts have struggled for years to find a long-term answer at quarterback since Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement before the start of the 2019 season.
Ballard seemed to hint that he’s willing to execute a trade in the draft if necessary to land a young quarterback in the draft. But the 53-year-old said he is well aware why many criticize him.
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«I failed,» Ballard said. «I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I failed a lot of people.»
At one point, Ballard began defending his job by comparing being fired to being «terminated.»
«When you fail in this world, they write you off and everyone wants your head,» he said. «And rightly so, in some cases. But if you are able to go through it and learn from it, you can reach your greatest heights.»
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The Colts face significant challenges as Ballard and his staff begin offseason work in hopes of turning the franchise around. Team owner Jim Irsay decided to revive Frank Reich from his head coaching duties after a 3-5-1 start to the season.
Ballard said Reich’s firing was due in large part to the quarterback’s poor play. Over the past five years, the Colts have opened each season with five different starting quarterbacks. In 2022, the team brought out three different signs: Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger, and Nick Foles.
«Looking back, when you change quarterbacks every year, it’s tough,» Ballard said. «It’s hard for everyone. It’s hard for the team. Not getting that position resolved has something to do with [the team’s predicament].»
The Colts finished this season with a 4-12-1 record which gives them the No. 4 pick in the NFL Draft. Bryce Young, CJ Stroud and Will Levis are among the top quarterbacks expected to be taken early in the first round of the draft. When Ballard was asked about the possibility of trading for one of the young quarterbacks, he vowed to take an aggressive approach.
«I’ll do whatever it takes,» said Ballard, who in the past has expressed some reluctance to invest in a rookie quarterback. «If we thought there was a player that drives us to achieve that makes the franchise and the team better, that’s what we would do.»
«We understand the importance of position. Getting one that you can win with and being right is the most important thing, not whether we take one or not. It’s being right.»
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The amount of power Ballard actually wields within the Colts’ football operations department has been called into question due to Irsay’s outspoken nature and unorthodox decision-making.
«Mr. Irsay lets me do my job,» Ballard said. «He is a good man and a good owner, he has a lot of experience in this league and we talk about everything.
«We don’t always agree. If we agree all the time, I’m not doing my job.»
Ballard also admitted that he disagreed with Irsay’s decision to hire Jeff Saturday as the team’s interim coach.
Saturday’s hiring shocked the entire league because he lacked coaching experience in the NFL or at the college level.
«This is unprecedented and we’re putting him in a really tough spot here,» Ballard recalled telling Irsay.
Ballard confirmed that he will interview for the full-time position on Saturday.
«If I get this job, there will be a significant change . . . The way I do things is not the way they’ve been done,» he said Saturday Monday, via the Indianapolis Star.
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Ballard noted that while 2022 was turbulent, there are reasons to keep going.
«I think there are some building blocks here. They have to play better. Our best players have to play at their level.»