Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard Talk Colts Head Coaching Search
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INDIANAPOLIS – Although it was hard to turn away from Jim Irsay’s incredibly passionate beliefs on Andrew Luck returning to be an NFL great, Chris Ballard did offer some insight on Monday into the coaching search the Colts are currently embarking on.
Ballard will lead the coaching search, with Irsay always following the recommendations of his general manager when making the final call.
“My philosophy has always been, my general manager is in charge of leading the search, bringing in candidates, eventually bring the owner the best candidate, or two, or three and making his recommendations,” Irsay made clear on Monday. “There hasn’t been a time where I haven’t followed the recommendations of what the general manager has recommended to me.”
With the logistical process out of the way on how the Colts will handle this hiring, Ballard cleared up some areas regarding what he will be seeking:
-The general manager said previous head coaching experience is not a pre-requisite.
-A coaching candidate with extensive background on a specific side of the ball is not necessary.
-Ballard is also open to collegiate coaches.
When Ballard met the current Colts players on Monday, he harped on the need for player accountability moving forward, no matter the hire.
What qualities will Ballard be looking for in their new head coach?
“They have to have a presence,” the GM said. “They have to be able to lead the room. If they are not on their side of the ball where they are an expert, they’ve got to be able to hire a first class staff that can teach and develop players. That’s what we are going to be about.
“We are going to be about teaching and developing players. You have to live through some bumps when you do that, but I think that’s very important. You want a full staff full of teachers that can develop not only players, but develop men. That’s what we are on the look for.”
Those looking for any leaks coming from the Colts headquarters in the next few weeks, do not get your hopes up.
While some teams elect to announce when they’ve completed coaching interviews, the Colts will not.
“We are going to keep everything we do internal, including who we are interviewing,” Ballard said. “We are going to keep all of that in-house.
“It’s going to be a wide open search. Is resume important? Yes. But I think there’s many instances through history where coaches have been hired from 8-8 type teams (Mike Tomlin and Mike McCarthy were two examples Ballard used). We are going to get the right fit for the Indianapolis Colts.”
And the Colts will be very prudent in their pursuit of Chuck Pagano’s successor.
“We are going to take our time and we are going to make sure,” Ballard stressed. ”I think it’s one of the things that a lot of great teams do in this league. They take their time (when hiring a new coach).
“We want a partner. The head coach/GM relationship is one of the most important things to the success of a franchise, so we want to make sure we get the right fit for this organization.”
The Colts are currently competing with 6 other teams for a new head coach (Bears, Cardinals, Giants, Lions and Raiders). But they do have some enticing recruiting chips with gobs of cap space, a top-3 draft pick and the (expected?) return of Luck.
Reports already indicate that the Colts have requested permission to interview New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (likely to come this week with the Patriots on a bye), Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilkes (which should take place next week with the Panthers playing in the Wild Card Round this Sunday) and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.
On Monday, Ballard and Irsay were at two opposite ends of the spectrum in using the carrot of their franchise quarterback to entice candidates.
Irsay was exuberant in preaching that Luck will rewrite NFL history books one day.
Ballard, per usual, offered much more caution when speaking about the health and future of No. 12, and how that will impact their coaching candidates.
“I want somebody that wants to come to the Indianapolis Colts,” Ballard said. “I don’t want them to come here just for Andrew Luck. I want somebody that wants to build something special and build a team that is special. The candidate who is coming just for Andrew is probably not going to be the right fit.”
Let the games begin.