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INDIANAPOLIS – It took a little longer than normal, but we have heard from Chris Ballard on the Colts 2021 season.

On Monday night, Ballard was on the 1075 The Fan airwaves, appearing on Colts Roundtable Live. Ballard fielded questions from ‘Voice of the Colts’ Matt Taylor, but did not take questions from fans, which is something Frank Reich does on a weekly basis.

Here is what the 5th year GM said:


On the 4-5 start:

“Well, at 4-5, we are not where we want to be. But what I would tell you is that we are getting better, unequivocally. And that’s been fun to watch. We didn’t play good football the first 3 weeks of the season, for whatever reason. But since that point, starting with Miami, each and every week we’ve gotten better. We have still not put together what I would say is all 3 phases clicking yet, so that’s good news, but we are encouraged. Very encouraged about where we are going, the improvement we are making in every phase. We definitely have things that we need to work on and get better, but we like the direction we are heading.”


On how encouraged he’s been by the play of Carson Wentz:

“We are encouraged. With Carson and (Frank Reich’s) past history, we knew there was going to be an acclimation period where he needed to get comfortable with what we were doing offensively, even though he had run a lot of it. There were still some new things that we do here that I know he didn’t do in Philadelphia. Also, watching him each and every week, watching his confidence grow and watching the entire offense’s confidence grow has been good to see. Starting to get some more continuity along the O-line, being able to protect him better, all those things have led to him being able to play good football.”


On Sam Ehlinger being the new backup quarterback:

“We really liked what Sam was doing in the preseason. Unfortunately, in that last preseason game he had a knee injury. To Sam’s credit, even when hurt, he stayed engaged. He’s a student of the game. He’s worked extremely hard. We think he’s a really good complement as the No. 2. He’s still a young player. But we thought he had done enough in practice and worked and earned the right to be the No. 2 quarterback.”


On Jonathan Taylor’s second NFL season taking another step and trading up for him in the 2020 Draft:

“(Laughs) well, sometimes you get lucky. We thought we were getting a pretty special player to move up in the draft to get him. I thought at the end of last year, the last 7 or 8 games of last season, I don’t think we are seeing anything different than we saw then. He had a little bit of a slow start last year. But once he got his footing and understood the speed of the game, and what it took to play in this league, I don’t see anything different than what we saw at the end of last year. The one area that he’s really worked on hard and improved on is in the passing game. Now, he’s a threat in that area also. He’s a complete back, a three-down player. He’s got some little things that he still needs to improve on, but he’s explosive and he’s a home run waiting to happen. Very fortunate that he’s a part of our team. He stands for everything we want to stand for and he’s a really, really special player.”


On the injuries from the start of training camp:

“Well look, nobody cares about your problems. And injuries are part of the NFL. It happens to everybody. We talk about it all the time. Our pro (scouting) staff does a tremendous job, but we have to constantly be churning the roster and practice squad, making sure that we have the right guys that can move up and play. If you are on the roster, in any capacity, whether you are on the 53 or the practice squad, there’s a good chance you are going to play. And it’s made it tough. Not only on the team, but our coaches with all the influx of starters that we’ve had in and out. But that’s our jobs and that’s what we have to do. We have to find a way to win. On Sunday, all they care is if you won or lost. Not who is playing, who is not playing, that doesn’t factor into the equation at the end of the day. We have to do the best we can to make sure we have the best players for our coaching staff that gives them a chance to win every Sunday.”


On Michael Pittman becoming a No. 1 wideout:

“Well the transition from playing wideout in college, to the NFL is different. Just because you are seeing more aggressive coverages, seeing a little bit more man-to-man, and everything is tighter. But, much like Jonathan, I thought at the end of last year, you really saw Michael coming on. He ended up with over 100 yards in the playoff game vs. Buffalo. The second he hit training camp (in 2021), he didn’t miss a beat. I’ll tell you this, there’s no one that has the level of commitment to be great as Michael Pittman. He works. He wants to be the best player he can for this team. He’s always doing extra. He’s driven to be great. We had a pretty strong feeling coming off last year that what we are seeing now is going to happen. But it’s been fun to watch it come to fruition. It’s always fun to see a player work as hard as he has, have success. He’s just a great example for other guys on the team that when you put the time in and the work in, good things will happen.”


On the Colts pass rush in 2021:

“It’s been solid. I think we are right in the middle of the league with 19 sacks right now, and we actually have missed some opportunities. Thinking back to Baltimore and Tennessee, we had some chances to get some sacks and we just didn’t finish. But I think the group is getting better, no question. I think we have a dominant player, without question, in (DeForest) Buckner. People do a lot to take Buckner away, but Grover Stewart, the last couple of games, has done a really nice job affecting the quarterback. Then our young players, between (Kwity) Paye and (Al-Quadin) Muhammad, it’s unfortunate with (Tyquan) Lewis’ injury because Tyquan was playing really good football for us, but we want to be able to play all of them. We want them all to be able to affect the quarterback in some way. And I think as we go through the season, you will continue to see a rotation with all these guys keeping them fresh and seeing if we can’t up our numbers more going forward.”


On if he’s seen anyone put up Darius Leonard’s insane production through 9 games:

“No. Taking the football away, the only other guy that I’ve been around is Charles Tillman that had the same knack stripping the football. Darius has a great knack of it. And also in big moments in big games, when we need a big play to be made, he finds a way to get the ball out. He did it in college. And usually that translates to the NFL. He’s done it every year in the NFL he’s played here. He’s playing, and getting the ball and that’s what our defense is about. I think we are tied for the league lead in turnovers, which usually leads to good things when you are able to take the ball away.”


On the high pass completion given up so far this season:

“That’s a really good question. Last year we probably had one of our better years and the quarterback completion percentage was down. It’s something we need to tighten up. Our defensive staff knows it and our players know it. We have to better at the end of games, without question. Losing (Julian) Blackmon and losing Khari (Willis), and we will get Khari back here in a few weeks, but those are hits at safety. The guys that have filled in (Andrew) Sendejo and (George) Odum, they’ve done a good job filling in. A lot of it is some technique stuff that we think we can clean up. Everybody says it’s the rush. But rush and coverage work together. And we’ve definitely had good moments but it’s definitely something our defensive staff is working hard at and our players will work hard at. I think we will see some improvement going forward.”

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