Colts Notebook: Chris Ballard Season-Ending Press Conference Recap
Colts Notebook: Chris Ballard Season-Ending Press Conference Recap
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INDIANAPOLIS – The expectation from Chris Ballard is that this offseason will be ‘normal.’
Hearing that is music to the ears for fans of stability.
For the first time since following the 2014 season, the Colts enter an offseason without questions about their upper management (i.e. general manager or head coach).
What isn’t normal for Ballard this offseason is the abundance of resources he has at his disposal with the most cap space in the NFL and important draft capital.
Ballard touched on that, and much more, in his season-ending press conference on Monday afternoon.
Here are a few comments from Ballard on the 2018 Colts and the upcoming offseason:
-On the job of Frank Reich in Year One: “I can’t say enough about Frank Reich, the job he did. He’s just got a level of maturity that’s not only great for the organization, I think it’s great for the city, it’s great for me personally. His experience as a player, his experience coaching in different organization that he’s been a part of, he’s able to recall situations that he’s been in, teams that he’s been on, he provides great leadership for our entire organization. Feel very fortunate to have Frank.”
-On when he knew Frank Reich was the guy: “During the interview, I told you all. About 30 minutes into it, I’m thinking, ‘What a moron. I mean, Chris, what an idiot. How did you not?’ I mean, he was that good in the interview. I know everybody just thought I was up here just saying that, but during the interview, it was special. It was the Houston game. It was the overtime, the go-for-it moment. I’ll never forget, sitting up in the box, I said, ‘Well, one thing about Frank, he’s got conviction, he’s going to rip it.’ Then he’s in the press conference with all of you, and he owns it. This is what I stand for, it’s what we’re going to do. A lot of people get up when things don’t go their way, and they try to spin it. Frank, I knew from that point on, he had the locker room, he had them. Because he believed in them and he supported them and he took the bullet for them. That’s the beautiful thing. That is a unique thing in our profession. It just is. Look, sometimes God does things for you that you don’t deserve, and I feel very fortunate that Frank’s our coach.”
-On when he knew Andrew Luck was ‘back’: “It was the (first) Houston game. I knew it was going to take some time. He hadn’t played. He had to play the game again. He was in a new offense, new players. He had to play the game. I felt like the second half of the Houston (OT) game there was some ‘Wow’ moments with Andrew. You saw little flashes of it before that, but the Houston game, that second half when he brought us back, that’s when I thought you really saw him come back. From Day One, my relationship with Andrew, we’re really close and I trust him, I do. And I have a great deal of respect of where he’s been and where he is now. We have not seen the best of this kid yet. Unequivocally. We’re fortunate to have him as our starting quarterback. This city’s and this team is fortunate to have him, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him.”
-On the decision of possibly trading Jacoby Brissett going into the final year of his rookie contract: “I like to sleep at night. I mean, I had to live a year, poor Jacoby’s out there getting thrown into the fire. Let me say this about Jacoby Brissett. I had a long visit with him (Sunday). He is a special, special teammate. I think you’ve all seen it. You’ve all been through that locker room. He is well-respected, and I think the relationship between him and Andrew has become very strong over time, as you would expect, in that quarterback room. This is what I told Jacoby: ‘I’m not giving you away. I won’t do it. I had chances last year and I didn’t do it, and I won’t do it again.’ It would have to be right for the organization and for him. I want to do the right thing for the player, too. I want to do the right thing for Jacoby. Jacoby has too much value to us, not only as our backup quarterback, who I think you can absolutely win with. I think he’s a starter in the league. But also to the locker room. He’s well-respected throughout the locker room by both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. That’s something we will work through. It would take somebody doing something that would blow me away, and it has to be the right thing for the kid, too. I’m not just sending him anywhere.”
-On weighing the aggressiveness in free agency with so much cap space available: “We are going to continue, I know this is a generic answer, we are going to continue to explore every avenue to acquire players. I guess I disagree with everybody who says we are not aggressive in free agency. Denico Autry, we targeted from Day One, and we signed him. Denico Autry ended up being a pretty good player. Just because it might not be who the media is writing about, who the fans are talking about, that doesn’t mean that guy is not a really good player. We put a value on a player. When it gets out of our reach, I just think we are comfortable enough to sleep at night saying that we are going to find an answer. Sometimes it might not be the household name that everybody wants us to sign and that’s okay, I get it. But we are going to find an answer. Whether it’s in that first window of free agency or maybe it’s the second window, maybe it’s the draft, maybe it’s after the draft, maybe it’s at the cut down day, there’s times to acquire players at all points in the season. We will explore every avenue and if we think from a free agent standpoint that we are going to get one of the high-priced, we have a very strict guideline that he’s got to fit, he’s got to fit into the locker room, he is going to have to earn the salary that he’s making, not only with his play, but with his impact and his presence within the locker room.”
-On free agent safety Clayton Geathers: “I got emotional with Clayton after the (Kansas City) game, because I love him. I do. I love everything Clayton Geathers stands for. I watched a guy every week fight for his tail off to get ready to play.”
-On the Colts being more attractive to free agents this year: “We dabbled into free agency (last year), we just couldn’t find a match. It wasn’t like people were beating our door down to come to Indianapolis. Do I think we are an attractive place? Absolutely, I do. Do I think the health of Andrew (Luck), the success of the team and the presence of Frank Reich, do I think those are all going to be encouraging factors to be a more possible attractive destination? Absolutely, I do.”
-On positions of need in 2019: “Pass rush is always going to be a cornerstone for us. Our defensive front, I’ve talked about it, you get into January football, even throughout the season, O-line, D-line, that plays, that travels and that plays. Those will both be areas that we will consistently invest in, at every point along the way. We want those to be strengths. When you put on the tape and you play us, I want people to feel our O-line and D-line at all points. Would we love three great wideouts that everybody’s scared to death of? Absolutely. Who doesn’t? But I’m also realistic to know that offensively we’ve got a really good head coach, who also heads the offense with Nick (Sirianni), and we’ve got a really good offensive staff who’s figured ways to use the weapons we have. You hear talk about wanting another wideout, but then we’ve got Eric Ebron to score 14 touchdowns. Not many No. 2 wideouts in the league score 14 touchdowns. That is an excellent job of coaching, that’s an excellent job by Eric Ebron. You’ve got to find places where you’re going to get that production from.”
-On his conversations with free agent kicker Adam Vinatieri and if he will return: “We texted last night. We’re going to visit (Tuesday). Do I think he can still kick in the league and be a really good kicker? Absolutely I do. We’ll see (if he will remain with the Colts). I’ll just say this. He is as important a guy in that locker room. I don’t know if I’ve been around a special teams player that has as much impact as Adam does in the locker room, from a positive standpoint. All of our young guys that come in get to see Adam Vinatieri work, rehab, prepare his body every year, be a pro, handle the hard times, handle the good times. All of that of what Adam brings, brings a lot of value to this team.”
-On moments that will stick with Ballard on this 2018 season: “I can think of two. One was after the Houston game. The overtime, the fourth down decision, especially when Frank stood up in front of the team and owned it, ‘It’s on me, I believe in you.’ And then our owner coming in at that point and making sure everybody understood we stick together, that’s what we do. We stick together as an organization, as a team. Then after the loss Saturday, just the caring for one another within the locker room. They hurt and they hurt for one another. That’s a special thing when you see grown men teary-eyed, me included, because they care about one another. That’s a really cool thing.”
-On one of Ballard’s steadfast themes of making sure the ‘locker room is right’: “The locker room runs it. The character of your locker room matters. It matters. The men you bring in the building, what they stand for, their ability to hold each other accountable, to be accountable No. 1 for themselves, but also accountable to their teammates in how they prepare and get ready to play, that’s important. And we talked a long time about that. I’m very happy in the progress we’ve made and the progress they made internally. As hard as the other night was, I’m emotional, and I got teary-eyed looking at them, but the level of disappointment and the level of care for each other, that’s when you know you’re getting it right. The care for one another, the tears in the eyes, the disappointment from losing, the disappointment from letting each other down. Those are the steps that you know you’re getting it going in the right direction.”