Cats have nine lives and apparently, so might Colts GM Chris Ballard.
Despite being the architect who built this 4-9-1 Colts roster, the same one that has been embarrassed on national TV in back-to-back weeks, including being on the wrong side of the biggest comeback in NFL history, it sounds like he still has the backing of Jim Irsay.
Irsay, at least publicly, continues to back Ballard saying he’s “been up against it” in Zak Keefer’s latest piece on The Athletic.
If Ballard is “up against it” it’s from his own actions. Ballard traded for Matt Ryan. He assured everyone who would listen in training camp that Matt Pryor would be a more than serviceable left tackle. He declined to address wide receiver in the draft and in free agency. He belittled reporters who dared to ask him why the roster he orchestrated looked so bad.
When the off-season does eventually come for the Colts what will presumably be the top positions of need heading into 2023? Quarterback? Left tackle? Wide receiver? Sounds familiar, right? Almost like the exact same issues from last off-season are still atop the list.
It’s time for a new set of eyes on this roster. The Colts have no AFC South division titles, no playoff wins and are about to be relegated back to the pay no mind list when it comes to national TV games for the foreseeable future. If Irsay truly believes in bringing back Ballard for 2023 after kicking Frank Reich to the curb, I’d really need to hear a convincing case as to what has earned him that right outside of Irsay’s pride getting in the way of decision-making. The guy did just give both Ballard and Reich matching contract extensions 15 months earlier, is he really going to swallow his pride and the hit to his ego if both are gone before the two year anniversary?
Why would Ballard want to stick around if given the option, anyway? He’s gotten his legs taken out from under him with Irsay’s decisions. From Matt Ryan being benched, to going to Sam Ehlinger, to firing Marcus Brady and Frank Reich and hiring Jeff Saturday, which if you saw any of the press conference, Ballard wanted absolutely nothing to do with. Ballard could easily step aside and say to other teams to look at what was all going on in 2022 at West 56th and give plenty of reasons why he should be given a clean slate and another opportunity elsewhere.
I can’t even begin to imagine the fan reaction if Ballard is somehow making draft pick selections again in April. If he is, this organization is more lost in the woods than I thought. If this record wasn’t good enough for Frank Reich, how can you justify it being good enough for Ballard, who had more of a hand in shaping the whole roster? Not only that, but if he sticks around he’ll be making long-term decisions that could have huge ripple effects in the organization. Not only another draft class and their contracts but what about Jonathan Taylor? Will he get a big money second contract? What about free agency? And will Ballard be entrusted to draft the new quarterback with likely a top-10 pick?
Time will tell. Cats have nine lives and Chris Ballard may have even more than that if he survives what has been the most embarrassing Colts season under Jim Irsay.
– Marc Dykton
To hear our full interview with Zak Keefer, including the likelihood that Chris Ballard is back next season, click the link below and be sure to listen to Kevin & Query every weekday morning from 7-10 on 93.5 & 107.5 The Fan!