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INDIANAPOLIS – The quarterly report from Chris Ballad is in, as his team enters the bye week at 3-5, after winning consecutive games.
Ballard joined Matt Taylor on Colts Roundtable Live this week and fielded a variety of questions on small, and big, picture levels.
Here are some highlights from Ballard’s appearance on 1070 The Fan:
- On his thoughts at being 3-5 with the midway point of the season here: “Well, it’s good to string together a couple wins the last two weeks, and you build upon that. The bye’s coming at a good time. It gives us a chance to get healthy and, like Frank (Reich) talked to the team today, this is not an off week for us, even though it’s an off week, we’re still going to do the things that we need to do to get prepared for a big game coming up in Jacksonville.”
- On seeing his team improve in back-to-back wins: “I thought against Buffalo, both sides of the ball performed extremely well. Defensively, taking the ball away 5 times in that game, which is what we want to do each game, and that’s how we’re going to be built, I thought that was outstanding. And then offensively, really being able to be balanced, more balanced, on offense, run the ball, control the clock and then take advantage of our situations when we get down in the red zone. And I thought especially the last two weeks they’ve been outstanding in that area. Even when we were 1-5, I thought we were doing the right things. We just weren’t getting the results that we wanted. But we were doing the right things, we’re practicing the right way, we’re playing players in the roles that they need to be played in. And now we just had to get a better result. Whether you win or lose on Sunday, I’ve said this a bunch, you’ve got to reset on Monday, and it’s a new season. It really is. It’s a week-to-week league. And it’s good to get two wins to get our record up to the three-win mark. Are we happy with that? No, not completely. We’d rather be flipped. But we are what we are, and we just keep resetting every week and getting better every week.”
- On the latest with rookie DL-Tyquan Lewis, who returned to practice last week with the Colts now having two weeks after their bye to make a decision on whether to activate the Ohio State product: “We’ll have more on Tyquan here in the next couple weeks. (He) came back last week, got his first week of action since Training Camp. Movement was good, toe felt good. This off-week, he’ll work with our strength and conditioning staff, and they’ll put him through 3 full days of hard work to really work on getting his conditioning back up, and then we’ll hit him that next week to see where he’s at and if he’s ready to move up after the Jacksonville game (Nov. 11). He was a defensive end in college, but they also slid him down inside to the three (technique), and we ultimately think that’s going to be his best position in the system, as an upfield disruptive three technique. When I was in Chicago we had guys, prototypical and same build that (Lewis has) in Tommie Harris and Henry Melton, and we think he can develop into that same type of role. We’ll probably play in him both spots here early, because he does have some position flexibility. We’re high on Tyquan. We moved up in the second round to get him. It’s unfortunate that he had the injury, but he looked good last week in practice, and we expect big things of him when we get him up to the roster.”
- On Tuesday’s trade deadline: “We’ve always got our lines in the water. I think a lot of the stuff reported in the media, I would tell you is probably 80 percent not true (laughs). So there’s always a lot of rumors and things floating out. We’re always looking to get better. I’ve said that since Day 1. We’re always going to look to improve. We’ll always have lines in the water. It always takes two teams to tango, and you can want, but it doesn’t mean the other team you agree on the compensation that needs to be done to get the trade done. So we’ll see. Football’s different than other sports, like basketball and baseball, where you can plug a guy in. These guys have practiced together. I’ve always said football is the ultimate team sport where all 11 guys have to be on the same page, and if one of them messes up, it screws up everything. And so being able to add a guy is hard to do. It’s very difficult to do. Can it be done? Absolutely it can. But you need to make sure you’re getting the right fit, the right person, the right fit for the scheme. All that stuff has to match up for it to happen.”
- On the play of the offensive line in 2018: “I think we’ve played pretty good all year, even I thought both Nick (Sirianni) and (Dave DeGuglielmo) and Frank have done an outstanding job with even with the moving pieces we had early in the season, with kind of a rotation at right tackle, we were throwing the ball a lot, and we still were doing a pretty good job protecting the passer, even early in the season. One of the big things we said going into the year was, and this is not going to change, this is going to be something that we’re going to do our best every year to get 9 or 10 linemen that we think are NFL quality and that you can win with and you can play with. And I thought our scouting group did an excellent job this year getting not only talent at the position, but depth at the position.”
- On the defensive play through the first half of the season: “It’s funny, because I’ve lived this in Chicago, our first year in 2004. I thought we had a very talented team, but it’s a scheme that it takes a lot of discipline and it takes time to learn. The one time you’re not in a gap, that you don’t have your vision and your eyes right, bad things happen. And I just think it’s just the natural progression that we’re going through. We have had games where we’ve been outstanding, and I think the players and the coaches will tell you that last week was not our best effort and we’ve got to be better.”
- On the plans with having some serious cap space in the 2019 offseason: “This is one thing that I’ve been very consistent about since I walked in the door. I knew we needed to build a core base of young talent here. And it’s easier to train your own. We want to be able to train our own players. Does that mean we’re against free agency? No. It does not, and I think we have some examples on our team with Margus Hunt, Al Woods, (Denico) Autry, Ryan Grant, (Matt) Slauson. We’ve gone out. Is it the A-level guys that the media and everybody writes about? No, but these are good football players that we signed and we thought we got at good value for our team. And you want to continue doing that. I think sometimes just spending money to spend money, that’s not always the smart thing to do. And when you do build your team up with your own guys, and they get to their second contracts and you begin to reward them, that’s when I think you’ll start to see some of that cap space disappear. Is there a time that we could go into free agency and we see a piece that we think fits and it fits culturally, fits from not only from a scheme perspective, but also from a character perspective? When you bring a guy into your locker room and you make him a highly-paid player, there’s a lot more that comes with that than just playing on the field. That means that guy needs to do everything right because he’s looked upon differently than the rest of the locker room.”
- On when the major work begins on the 2019 Draft: “Right when last year’s draft ended, we started working on 2019 Draft. You’re just constantly working on it. You’re even working on not only ’19, but ’20, because we’re always looking at players, we’re always looking at young players, just seeing who’s coming through the system. You want to track them for a couple years, and we ask our scouts to do that. We think it’s going to be a very good defensive draft. It’s going to be a heavy defensive draft. But, I always laugh when people say there’s weaknesses. There’s always players in the draft at every position. It’s our job to find them. It’s our job to find the right players for our scheme and for our system. People might not agree with it, but it matters what we think internally and how our coaching staff and our scouts and everybody getting on the same page. There’s always players at every position, but this year the top of the draft is going to be pretty defensive-heavy.”
- On if Ballard gets out to scout college games during the season: “During the week, a lot of my time is spent with our team, watching our team practice, watching it again on tape. I always get at least 2 days a week where I’m watching college tape. And then on the weekends, I try to get out every weekend. Like this last week, I went and watched Colorado State and Wyoming (on Friday night), and then flew and watched Cal and Washington play (on Saturday afternoon). So I try to get out every weekend, especially when we’re on the road, and see at least a game or two.”