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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s become an annual tradition for Chris Ballard and Dan Dakich.

About a month after the Colts season ends, the general manager heads into the 1075 The Fan studio for an hour-long chat with Dakich, which took place on Friday afternoon (see video below).

Here are the highlights from Ballard:

On the rumors about the Colts having interest in Carson Wentz: “We are exploring a lot of options…I’ll tell you this though, there’s no trade going down right now. Nothing. No trade. Not today. Not for the Colts.”

On if Jim Irsay had a ‘meeting’ with Andrew Luck on Thursday: “That’s a loaded question. There was no meeting. Andrew is retired. He’s been retired. (asked if the Colts reached out to Luck) We talk. I talk to Andrew. But I don’t ever ask, ‘Andrew, could you please come back?’ I figure if Andrew wanted to play, he would just say, ‘Hey Chris, you know what? I think I want to play football again.’ So I don’t ever ask.”

-On if Andrew Luck will be the Colts quarterback in 2021: “No.”

On if there was any sense that Andrew Luck was retiring in 2018: “No. I believed in Andrew. I did. I believed he was going to come back healthy and was going to have a long career (asked what happened with Luck health wise from the 2019 Pro Bowl to retiring) He just had that ankle or calf.”

On his level of concern at the quarterback position: “Here’s what I’ll tell you. We know how important the position is. This league is driven by the position. It is. But saying that, you need a team around that position. I’ve always said this, ‘Organizations win, teams win, coaches win, it’s not just the quarterback.’ Is the quarterback important? Absolutely it is. We are looking at every avenue to make sure we have a guy who is functional and can produce at a winning level for us. I have a lot of faith in Frank and the staff to make that work. If you think back to last year at this time, it was panic mode. Even when we signed Philip Rivers, you didn’t hear this giant roar like, ‘Yes. No doubt. This is going to work.’ And he ended up playing good football for us. So I have a lot of faith in Frank. Whoever we end up getting, he’ll make it work.”

-On if ‘functional’ quarterback play is good enough: “You would like to have dynamic (play), absolutely, a dynamic star. But they just don’t fall off trees.”

On the draft debate with a quarterback: “Everybody is like you have to do whatever it takes and they are right in that. But you have to be right. You can’t move up and take the wrong guy because history has proven that. If you just look at the last 10 years of drafts and the quarterbacks and the miss rate is a lot higher than the miss rate. So you have to be right. Just to move up and take one, to make everybody happy in the moment, to me, that’s wrong. You have to have enough conviction and belief in what you are doing, that even though you are getting criticized in the moment it’ll work out over time.  There’s a fine line in between being aggressive and desperate. We are not going to operate in a desperate world. That’s what the world does. That’s what Twitter does. That’s what people do. They operate in a desperation world. We are not going to operate in that world. We will be aggressive when we need to be aggressive.”

On if he thinks the Colts are desperate: “I would put it this way. If everybody thinks we are just going to all of a sudden ‘plop’ and a Pat Mahomes or a Lamar Jackson is just going to land in our lap, that’s not realistic. Those guys are rare guys. When you get the opportunity to identify a guy like that and then move up to get him, great. Saying that, you can win football games with good quarterback play. It might not be special quarterback play, but you can win with good quarterback play. And we think we can.”

-On quarterbacks dealing with adversity: “I think every quarterback at some point in their career struggles. And they have to stand on the edge of the cliff and look into the abyss and not jump. A lot of them jump and they can’t get out of it. They have to have something internally that allows them….it’s like a baseball player. If you bat .300, you fail 7 out of 10 times and you are a great player. You have to be able to be handle that. It’s no different with a quarterback where you are going to have moments where it’s not going to be pretty. And you have to be able to handle that. At the end of the day, the quarterback gets all the credit usually and all the blame when it doesn’t go well. He has to be able to handle that. That’s why the college scouting is so important…”

On if this is a good draft/free agent QB market: “It’s a good quarterback draft (asked about BYU’s Zach Wilson) He’s pretty dynamic. Free agent market, anytime a quarterback hits free agency, it’s for a reason. Anytime a quarterback gets traded, it’s for a reason. It doesn’t mean they can’t play and it doesn’t mean they can’t play at a high level. Maybe circumstances will dictate…Ryan Tannehill, they find gold in Tennessee, so you never know. I know this, Pat Mahomes is not on the market.”

-On Deshaun Watson being on the market: “At least Twitter tells us Deshaun Watson is on the market…I can’t talk about Deshaun Watson (laughs). I just know this, it would be nice to get him out of the division.”

On if he thought that Philip Rivers would play two years: “I did. Good for him though. I was proud of Philip. He played his butt off for us this year. Even after a slow start, early in the season, really figuring how we needed to play to win the game. I think that’s one of the things lost here. There’s a way to win every game. How do you do it? Philip finally figured out how to do it. I don’t need to make a hero play every game for us to win. I can just do what is expected. We are good enough on defense and special teams.”

-On free agent QB-Jacoby Brissett: “We like Jacoby. He will be in the mix (to re-sign and/or play). We have to let that play out and work out how it should.”

-On QB-Jacob Eason: “He’s in the mix. We like Jacob. If I could sit here and tell you I knew what he was, I could be a little more (forthcoming), but I don’t….I know this he is a big, talented kid that can throw the football. (asked if Eason works) He works. (asked if Eason’s tough) I don’t know. You don’t know. No preseason games. No live action. We thought he had pretty good toughness at Washington watching him on tape. You don’t know. That’s the hard thing about this last year. With no preseason, you don’t get to test the mettle of those guys. And those games are hard and they are hard on young players because they play so many snaps. We still have a lot of questions on Eason, but we like what we see so far.”

-On RB-Jonathan Taylor’s rookie year: “It was unbelievable (listening to the early criticism). Here we go with a rookie back. New offensive system. A limited training camp. No preseason. No offseason. And we expect him to be a 200-yard rusher with 5 carries right from the get-go. The run game was a little different coming from the shotgun, so he had to get used to the gun runs. It’s different from when the quarterback is behind center. It’s going to be a different viewpoint for you. He played good football early. And he played unique football the last 6 or 7 games of the year.”

On if he anticipates T.Y. Hilton returning to the Colts: “We will work through it. But we like T.Y. We think he can still play, play a significant role. Let me tell you what’s been really cool about T.Y. to see his growth and maturity. That’s been really cool (as a person and player). When you are used to catching 1,400 (yards) to all of a sudden to go to 600-800, that’s a little bit of a hit to the ego. He never once bitched, complained. No, here’s my role. This is what I’m going to do. How do I help the team win? A lot will depend on the market because we have some work to do. But would we like him back? Yes. We’ll see if it works out.”

On the left tackle situation: “I think we have 4 really good O-linemen (Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith). By the time we get to training camp, we will find the right position for each one of them to play, where we play good football.”

On if LG-Quenton Nelson or RT-Braden Smith will be the left tackle: “We will find a way to get our best 5 on the field in their best spots to help us win…It’s become such a passing game, all (5 OL positions) are difficult. More pressure is probably put on the tackles because of the edge rushers in this league. But, holy crud, even the interior rushers are good, too. When you look at what the guards are making in this league, it’s almost up to tackle money and they have to be able to pass pro. No. 1, they have to be able to protect. They are all important. But the tackle position is hard.”

-On watching Nelson play left tackle against the Raiders: “Here will be the hard thing for us with him, so you’ve got an All-Pro guard. Probably the best in the league at his position. Does it make your team better moving him out of that spot? Because he’s so good at it. And can the replacement level player that you put in there, he’s not going to play at Quenton’s level. But will Quenton play at the left tackle level that makes it worth it?

-On moving Braden Smith from right tackle to left tackle: “This is the way an O-line coach put it to me, ‘It’s like playing golf when you are a right-handed golfer and you switch him to left-handed.’ Eric Fisher played right tackle for us our first year in Kansas City and then we kicked him over to the left side. It can be done. It can absolutely be done. But, who are we putting in at right tackle? Those are the questions we have to answer. It’s all on the table. By the time we hit September and our first game, we will have those 5 sorted out and I think we will have good answers.”

-On free agent DE-Justin Houston: “It’s more work. My relationship with Justin goes back to 4 years in Kansas City. That led to us (here). So we’ve been together for 6 years. He’s a tremendous pro. It’s going to come down to the market. I’d love to say, ‘Let’s just get everybody back.’ That’s not how the reality of our world works. We have a salary cap that we don’t know what the number is. It’s not going up. We know that. We know that the bottom line is going to be $175 (million), maybe it’s higher, but we know a limit has been set and we have to work off that. That’s going to be put restrains on everybody around the league, depending on what that number will be.”

On if this is a Super Bowl with all the missing key positions: “Well, we have work to do. We have a lot of good players. We have a lot of good, young players on this team, under the age of 26, which is exciting. So we have a good, core in place. But we still have work to do. The (Anthony) Castonzo retirement. The Philip Rivers retirement…Do I think we have a lot of talent? Yes. Do I think we are a Super Bowl team right now? No. There’s too many questions in play here. But we have time. We have free agency. We have the draft. We don’t play until September 9th or 10th. There’s a lot of time between now and then.”

On what Ballard thought of the coaching in the Buffalo playoff game: “It’s no different than when we make a mistake in the draft. Not perfect. It’s like with analytics. I think if you ask Frank, ‘Would you re-play the 3rd down call (near the end of the first half)?’ I don’t think he has any regrets on the 4th down call. I know he doesn’t. The 4th down call, we took a shot, we thought we would get a little different look, but we are going to play the odds. That’s what we are going to do and that’s what we are going to continue to do. We are going to continue to be aggressive in certain games, when you are playing teams, a Kansas City, an offensive team that is hot and you know you need to score. I don’t believe in momentum. I just don’t believe in it. The odds were in our favor. If we stop them, if we don’t let them go 95 yards for a touchdown, are we looking at it differently? At the end of the day, we didn’t execute. We didn’t execute on offense. We didn’t execute on defense and that 2-minute span was so important for us.”

On how much odds/analytics override gut and feel: “I think it depends on the game, who you are playing, who the opponent is (asked if Reich always goes with what the analytics chart says) No. No. He plays it by who we are playing…every game is different. When you make it, you are a hero. When you don’t make it, you are a moron. This is what I love about Frank. He doesn’t shy away and make excuses. This is what we believe in and this is what we are going to do.”

On if he’s worried about where things stand entering his 5th Year: “No. When you look at our roster. The Buckner’s. The Nelson’s. The Darius Leonard’s. The Braden Smith’s. The Nyheim Hines’. The Jonathan Taylor’s. The Michael Pittman. Grover. Blackmon. We got a lot of good, young players under the age of 26. Everybody keeps saying, ‘We are in our window.’ We are not in our window. It might be cracking. But we have a good, young team. Now, do we have work to do? Damn right, we have work to do. And we are always going to have work to do. There’s no perfect team in this league. I have a lot of confidence in our group. We’ve answered a lot of questions. We’ve not been perfect. And I’m the first to admit when things don’t go right and I accept responsibility for that. But we’ve also done a lot of good work and I’m proud of that good work.”

-On the free agency/draft market for a wide receiver: “It’s going to be really good. The draft is going to be as good as it was last year. I like wideouts. I think we all know my philosophy that you win up front. You want weapons that can score touchdowns, no doubt, but I like our younger (wideouts). I think Michael Pittman is going to be a great player. I think you saw it. If he doesn’t have the compartment syndrome (injury) and misses the three games, and that was a serious injury, and he fought to come back and it took a little bit of time to come back, I think you saw in the Tennessee and playoff game, he was outstanding. Getting Parris Campbell back, I still believe in Parris Campbell. He’s had some bad luck. Parris Campbell is good. He’s a talent. He’s a great kid and he works. He’s got a little more internal fortitude and mental toughness that I think he’s going to be able to overcome these tough situations he’s had to do deal with as injuries. I think one of the most underappreciated players on our roster is Zach Pascal (Ballard said he plans to re-sign Pascal, who is a restricted free agent). All he does is show up and produce. Guys say he’s not that dynamic. You look up in a game and he produces. He does a lot of the dirty work. So I like our young receivers. (Asked about adding wideouts) You always want to. You always want to add weapons to your team.”

-On the speed of the team: “I think Jonathan Taylor is pretty fast. I think we all can attest to that. I think Nyheim Hines has speed. I think Parris Campbell has speed. (Michael) Pittman is going to do it with size and strength. He’s a build-up guy and he’s faster than you think with the ball in his hands. And he’s really fast when he gets the ball in his hands. Is he track speed fast like Tyreek (Hill) and guys like that? No. But I think Jonathan Taylor is. And I think Nyheim is. And I think Parris is. What speed does, especially after the catch, they can turn a 7-yard slant into a 60-yard touchdown. That’s what we saw with Jonathan as the season went along. His plus-20 (yard) runs was pretty incredible.”

-On the locker room being ready to handle a lower character player: “Yeah. It’s good. It’s freaking good, man. The addition of (DeForeset) Buckner almost cemented it. Because he’s a real pro, now. The way he works, the way he shows up. Every day at 6:15 in the morning, he’s in the building with his routine. All of a sudden, you look up and there would be another player, another player and these were young guys. We forget. Darius Leonard is a young player, even though this is just his third year, he’s still a young player in the league. For them to see a vet come in and Buckner is only 26, who had been through it, had a great routine…these guys already worked but it’s been fun to watch. Then when you have the veterans like Philip and Justin and T.Y., who has been great, we’ve got a great locker room of guys. They are looking at us to see how do we answer this quarterback question because these dudes want to win. They’ve had a taste of the playoffs twice and they are pissed because we got beat by Buffalo. They have a taste and they want to continue that. That’s a good thing. That’s alright. We aren’t going to shy away from that.”