INDIANAPOLIS – We are now 7 years into the Chris Ballard tenure, with a reboot of sorts taking place this past season.
In Ballard’s 7 seasons, the Colts have compiled a record of 54-60-1. They’ve made 2 playoff appearances, won 1 postseason game and captured 0 division titles.
Let’s examine the 7 years of Ballard as Colts general manager:
-Took A Swing: Even though this is hard to quantify, and we only saw Anthony Richardson for 173 snaps last season, the Colts are finally on the correct path to try and build something. That’s because they took a chance on Richardson with the 4th overall pick and have taken some early steps to supporting their young, franchise quarterback. Unlike the four previous January’s, the Colts are now entering an offseason knowing what the future is at QB for them, and that hasn’t been said under Ballard since Andrew Luck exiting the 2018 season.
-Answer At Left Tackle: On the preseason checklist needed for the Colts, finding an answer (or more) at other premium positions was very important. I think it’s safe to say Bernhard Raimann is that guy at left tackle. That’s huge. And it’s even bigger when you consider Raimann is making a hair over $1 million a year for each of the next two seasons. Yes, it makes some sense to reward Raimann with a contract extension following the next season (Raimann’s rookie contract runs through 2025). Of the major premium positions, Ballard has struggled to find definite answers, but this looks to be one he has found, and at a very reasonable price.
Losses/To Be Determined
-Not Enough Return On Defensive Investments: In finishing 28th in scoring defense for a second straight season, the Colts continue to struggle in keeping points off the board. And this is occurring on a side of the ball where the Colts have invested ample draft capital—1st round picks (Malik Hooker, DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye), 2nd round picks (Quincy Wilson, Shaquille Leonard, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Ben Banogu, Rock Ya-Sin, Dayo Odeyingbo, JuJu Brents) and 3rd round picks (Tarell Basham, Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross). Those players, spanning the 7 drafts of Ballard, was supposed to be part of a defensive overhaul that would not have a defense sitting in the bottom of the NFL in points allowed. Despite playing a quarterback schedule that included backups or rookies for 10 of 17 games the Colts still ranked 28th in points allowed.
-Youth In The Secondary: When Chris Ballard takes blame for an issue, it’s obviously going to fall on the list. Ballard wanted to opt for a youth movement in the secondary. Why was this allowed/considered acceptable? Because the Colts decided to rebuild following the 6th year of Ballard. So the bar was low for the secondary this season, and that was felt in the Colts finishing 28th in scoring defense. That group was torched in the season finale loss by Nico Collins and C.J. Stroud. Had the Colts been on a better overall path or had developed other young members of the secondary earlier, such an approach would not have been explored.
-Still Waiting On January: As pointed out above, the Chris Ballard resume reads as this through 7 seasons: Record: 54-60-1; Playoffs Appearances: 2; Playoff Wins: 1; Division Titles: 0. When 25 of 32 teams have won a division title since the Colts last have, and 21 of 32 teams have won multiple playoff games since the Colts last have, it’s a tenure that has not lived up to the original hype. Too many seasons under Ballard have been spent starting the off-season early, while every other team in the AFC South has won multiple division titles since the Colts made a change at GM in 2017.
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