Colts General Manager Chris Ballard admits he’s ‘failed,’ oddly equates NFL firings to being ‘canceled’

 

During a media session with reporters on Tuesday, Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard acknowledge that he “failed” the team this season. The longtime team executive mentioned that his overall approach to the 2022 season was partially responsible for his shortcomings.

Ballard also pointed to the organization’s instability at the quarterback position as one of the reasons for the disappointing seasons. The Colts have struggled for years to find a long-term answer at the quarterback position ever since Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement prior to the start of the 2019 season.

Ballard seemed to hint he is willing to execute a trade in the draft if necessary to land a young quarterback in the draft. But, the 53-year-old said he is well aware of why many are critical of him.

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 12: Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard is seen before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

“I failed,” Ballard said. “I’m not going to sit up here and make excuses. I failed a lot of people.”

At one point Ballard then began defending his job by comparing being fired to being “canceled.”

“When you fail in this world, you get canceled and everybody wants your head,” he said. “And rightfully so, in some cases. But if you’re able to go through it and learn from it, you can reach your greatest heights.”

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The Colts face significant challenges as Ballard and his staff begin the offseason work with the hopes of turning the franchise around. Team owner Jim Irsay decided to relive Frank Reich of his head coaching duties after a 3-5-1 start to the season

Ballard said Reich’s firing was largely due to poor quarterback play. Over the past five years, the Colts have opened each season with five different starting quarterbacks. In 2022, the team trotted out three different signal-callers — Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles.

“Looking back on it, when you’re changing quarterbacks every year, it’s tough,” Ballard said. “It’s tough on everybody. It’s tough on the team. Not getting that position settled has a little something to do with [the team’s predicament].”

Chris Ballard, general manager of the Indianapolis Colts speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Colts finished this season with a 4-12-1 record which gives them the No. 4 selection in the NFL Draft. Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Will Levis are among the top quarterbacks who are expected to be taken early in the first-round of the draft. When Ballard was asked about possibly trading up to land one of the young quarterbacks, he promised to take an aggressive approach.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” said Ballard, who in the past has expressed some reluctance to invest in a rookie quarterback. “If we thought there’s a player that we’re driven to get that makes the franchise and the team better, that’s what we would do.

“We understand the importance of the position. To get one that you can win with and to be right is the most important thing — not if we take one or not. It’s being right.”

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The amount of power Ballard truly wields within the Colts football operations department has been called into question due to the Irsay’s outspoken nature and unorthodox decision-making.

“Mr. Irsay lets me do my job,” Ballard said. “He’s a good man and a good owner, and he has a lot of experience in this league, and we talk about everything.

“We don’t always agree. If we’re agreeing all the time, I’m not doing my job.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 24: Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard watch pregame warmups before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Ballard also admitted he disagreed with Irsay’s decision to hire Jeff Saturday as the team’s interim coach.

Saturday’s hiring sent shock waves throughout the league because he lacked any coaching experience at the NFL or collegiate levels.

“This is unprecedented, and we’re putting him into a really tough situation here,” Ballard recalled telling Irsay.

Ballard did confirm that Saturday will be interviewed for the full-time job.

“If I get this job, there’s going to be significant change. . . . The way I do things is not the way it’s been done,” Saturday said on Monday, via the Indianapolis Star.

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Ballard noted that although the 2022 was turbulent, there are reasons to be hopefully going forward.

“I do think there’s some building pieces here. They’ve got to play better. Our best players gotta play to their standard.”