Chris Ballard Searching For A Colts Head Coach Again
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INDIANAPOLIS – The mic drop came, but not after a transparent 20 minutes of Chris Ballard explaining one of the most chaotic 24 hours in this franchise’s history.
Wednesday was supposed to be a day for the Colts to celebrate, by announcing Josh McDaniels as their new head football coach.
Instead, Ballard was not down at Lucas Oil Stadium. He was at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to hold a smaller press conference, explaining what happened with Josh McDaniels saying no to the Colts.
Ballard first got word from McDaniels on his hesitancy around 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Inside of draft meetings with his scouts, with the NFL Combine starting in less than 3 weeks, Ballard was informed that a call from McDaniels was waiting.
The call lasted 5 minutes and Ballard didn’t need to hear any reasons for why his supposed head coach was now having a sudden change of heart.
“There was no persuasion,” Ballard said on Wednesday. “Let me make this clear, I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach that wants to be all in. We’ve got work to do. I’ve not once hid from that. We have work to do and I want somebody that’s 100 percent committed to partnering with us in getting that work done.
“Either you’re in or you’re out. I didn’t need the explanation.”
Over the past few weeks, Ballard said he had no indication from McDaniels that there were any reservations about coming to Indianapolis. Remember, both Ballard and McDaniels share the same agent.
“Unquestionably, we were disappointed and surprised,” Ballard said after the Colts had announced on Tuesday morning that McDaniels would be their head coach, with a Wednesday afternoon press conference coming.
“We had agreed to contract terms. We had an agreement in place. We had followed all the rules. We had two interviews, everything went very well. Very confident that we were going in the right direction, very confident going into Monday evening and Tuesday morning. As you can see we had a plan in place because we made the announcement that Josh was going to be our head football coach. I got a call Tuesday evening that he was changing his mind and going in a different direction.”
Once Jim Irsay was informed, Ballard began talking to candidates for an opening he already thought was filled.
Ballard said on Wednesday that the Colts will be moving on from their original candidates, meaning former Seattle defensive assistant Kris Richard and Baylor head coach Matt Rhule are no longer options.
The Colts will be looking to interview some playoff candidates who Ballad said they didn’t have time to sit down with during the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That could mean members of the Philadelphia staff, including offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who has connections to Indianapolis.
“We will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts, one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go,” the GM said. “I’m very confident in this. There’s a sense of pride in this city we are going to bring it back in this organization to where it should be.
“Just know this, and I talk to our players and our team about this all the time, obstacles happen. That’s what makes this league great, overcoming the hard times. That’s what makes football great. That’s what the great lesson of football is, that it doesn’t always work out or go the way we mapped it out or planned it. But it’s the mentally tough, gritty people that overcome these things that are successful. That is what we are going to be built on. That’s what this city is built on. That’s what this organization is built on and you can bet we are going to get there, unquestionably.”
Ballard did have an update on Andrew Luck.
During this process, Ballard said McDaniels did not ask to speak with Luck, who has still yet to throw a football.
“At this point, we feel very strong that Andrew is in a good place,” Ballard said. “He doesn’t need surgery. We have not gotten that from the two doctors that he’s seen after the season. His strength is good. He’s working on his throw motion. He’s working on his arm speed right now. He’s not picked up a football, but he’s throwing balls and working on arm speed.
“I’m very confident, he’s very confident that he’s going to come back and prove a lot of people wrong. We want everybody on our team to match what he has inside.”
While Luck’s status remains up in the air, the new head coach in Indy does already have a few assistant coaches in place, whether he likes it or not.
Ballard says the Colts will honor the already signed contracts for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and defensive line coach Mike Phair. Ballard was adamant that these locked in assistants would not hinder possible head coaches from wanting to come to the Colts.
In Eberflus, the Colts will transition to a 4-3 scheme, one that is known for its simplicity and is predicated on speed, which is an advantageous system for teams playing indoors.
One game that will be outdoors for the Colts next year comes in Foxborough.
After a rare two-year hiatus from playing each other, the Colts and Patriots are back on the 2018 schedule.
Pressed for questions about his emotions on Wednesday, Ballard said he did not feel betrayed by McDaniels’ decision.
But it was easy to see the passion and competitive nature oozing from Ballard as he tried to keep his fan base believing.
“The rivalry is back on,” the poised GM said as he walked away from the mic and headed back to his office to find a new football coach.