INDIANAPOLIS – With free agency nearly a month old, it appears the Colts have still yet to address their biggest offseason need.
Chris Ballard has made some necessary depth moves to the O-line, but who starts at left tackle in Week 1 remains up in the air.
Throughout the offseason, we’ve heard from a variety of important voices on how the Colts will handle life after Anthony Castonzo.
Here is an overview of what we have heard from owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard, head coach Frank Reich and new assistant offensive line coach (and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Kevin Mawae:
- Jim Irsay: “It’s not the easiest position to fill. I remember sitting with Howard Mudd right before we took Tony Ugoh, we thought that would be a good match for us. It didn’t work out as well as we hoped it would. There’s always that transition process from college to pro. But it would be excellent if we could get one in the draft and we could see there for a long period of time, as our left tackle.”
- Chris Ballard: “Here will be the hard thing for us with (Nelson), 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’s play at the left tackle level that makes it worth it? (On moving Braden Smith 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 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.”
- Frank Reich: “Chris and I have already had that conversation, obviously when AC got hurt. It was like, ‘Hey, well let’s take a look at Quenton, maybe that’s a real option. That would certainly be an option, but like every other decision, you have to look at all options and consider all factors…We want to get the best 5 guys on the field, at the best positions for them. And they can grow into those positions. We are still keeping all options open at this point. We know we have multiple options, multiple good options. But each one of those ends up with the vision of us having a top-5 offensive line. We are going to find the best 5 players to put out there. We know those guys have already expressed, ‘Hey just put us wherever you want us. We will make it work.’”
- Kevin Mawae: “I just think in general, not specifically about this team but just in general, (switching offensive line positions) is not as easy as everybody thinks it is. I think everybody is like, ‘Just plug them in at guard.’ Well that just doesn’t happen like that. I think there are unique tools and attributes that a guard has to have versus a tackle and a center and just to plug and play is not the right way to go about it. I think obviously, you want to put the best five guys on the field talent wise but also you want to put the best five combination out there. I know that is what the goal is of this organization and we have some talented offensive linemen. It has been fun watching their film and getting to meet them as they trickle in and out of the building from time to time. It’s not as easy as saying, ‘Move this guy to that spot.’ There is a comfortability level athletic wise. There are guys that can do it and then mentally wise there are some guys that can and can’t. There is always that challenge. But I think the biggest goal of any organization is to make sure you have the best five guys available that work the best together.”
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