Joe Robbins | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s the broken record that Chris Ballard is here to make sure you don’t forget anytime soon.
Even with seemingly all the attention on the quarterback position for the Colts this offseason, Ballard still has some eyes focused on the trenches of the Indianapolis Colts.
“I’ll preach this to the day I’m out of this game, you win up front, you win on the O-line, D-line,” Ballard reminded everyone earlier this offseason.
When it comes to the offensive line, the Colts are more than content with their actual starters.
Of course, that all changes depending on the decision by Anthony Castonzo.
It’s the depth, which the Colts fortunately didn’t have to rely on last year, that is on Ballard’s mind.
The Colts top three O-line reserves from last season—Joe Haeg, Josh Andrews, Le’Raven Clark—are all free agents in 2020.
“You need a collection, especially on the O-line, you need 8, at all points,” Ballard says. “It’s going to have to be addressed, especially from a depth (standpoint).”
Some have wondered whether Ballard would look to upgrade the right guard position currently occupied by Mark Glowinski.
Ballard seems pretty pleased overall though with how the entire line performed in 2019, including the right side of Glowinski and Braden Smith.
“Really good,” Ballard said about the entire unit, before touching on the right side. “They had their struggles. But they all did. We had struggles early on, especially with stunts. I thought they played pretty good, especially the second half of the season.
“That’s a good group. A really good group of guys who play together. I’m very pleased with that group.”
Flipping over to the defense, Ballard will have a decision to make on veteran free agent Jabaal Sheard.
A recent trend of wanting to get younger, with a trio of second-round picks along the defensive line the last two drafts, must continue.
Guys like Sheard, Justin Houston and Margus Hunt are all 30 years old or older. Denico Autry turns 30 in July.
From a specific position, Ballard has mentioned the definite need to find a more productive 3-techniqiue, a position mainly occupied by Autry last year.
“I don’t think you can ever have enough defensive linemen,” Ballard says. “And it takes time for those guys. It might be as hard as any other position to really develop. Rushers are hard to develop.
“Absolutely you can get a Dwight Freeney that is really, really special. But when you don’t get a special one that and lights it up right away, you have to be able to draft guys with traits and then develop him. That was the same with Kemoko Turay. That was a big loss for us when Kemoko want down. Getting him back, getting (Ben) Banogu, getting (Tyquan) Lewis…Lewis has to come on. It’s his time, now. He’s got to get healthy. He’s got to come on and we had a long talk about that. This is a big year. The interior (of the defensive line), we have to be able to get some type of pass rush. That helps your edge rushing when you some interior rush. When you can rush the passer up the middle, the quarterback only has one place to go and that’s stepping out and he’s got to run. That should help your edge.”
Once the Castonzo domino falls this offseason then the other needs in the trenches will be keyed:
-Mainly depth on the offensive line
-And finding more production via the entire defensive line.