Chris Ballard did his post-season press conference today and touched on a lot of different topics. There’s a lot to unpack with his comments today.
Now that 2020 is here and the Colts aren’t playing in the playoffs. Because of that, GM Chris Ballard addressed the media to give his thoughts on the 2019 season and what happened and what they need to do to get things on the right track. There are several things he touched on.
- The quarterback position came up a lot. Ballard was asked multiple questions about Jacoby Brissett and how he has played. It sounds like the position is still a little bit up in the air. Ballard said they always look at draft prospects at that position every year, and will do the same this year. But he did say that Brissett is the starting quarterback today.
- In regards to how he thought Brissett played, Ballard thinks he needs to be better. He said the second half of the season was poor, and that the injury isn’t an excuse at that point. He does think Brissett can improve and be better.
Special teams as a whole was a unit that was extremely poor all year long. Ballard had a few thoughts on all aspects of the special teams.
- Just when you thought the kicking position was solved, think again! Despite signing Chase McLaughlin to a one-year deal, it sounds like they will let Adam Vinatieri come back if he wants to. Ballard still believes in his ability to get the job done.
- Asked if he regretted not putting Vinny on IR sooner with the knee injury, Ballard said no. He said that it looked like Vinny had put his struggles behind him. It seems like they are going to stick behind him if he wants to continue playing.
- It looks like Nyheim Hines is going to be the returner from here on out. He lamented how he kept putting Hines back to return punts last year as a rookie despite his struggles, and it almost ruined his confidence. But now he has worked through those issues, and should be the punt returner from now on.
Besides the quarterback position, the rest of the offense was addressed as well. Ballard pretty much went through every position and talked about some specific areas of improvement he wanted to see.
- When asked about wide receivers, he said they just need playmakers. The team is still high on Parris Campbell despite the injuries. Ballard spoke really high of Zach Pascal and what he did this year. He did say that they need to get a playmaker to help out Brissett.
- When asked about Eric Ebron and how he ended the season and if they will keep him or move on, Ballard simply said “I think we’ll move on.”
- Ballard was happy with the offensive line, but wants the team to take more deep shots. He said that the quarterback is partially responsible for that, but the line needs to give him time to survey the field. He is really happy with the way Ryan Kelly has progressed, and is really hopeful that Anthony Castonzo decides to come back and keep playing football.
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The defense really took a turn south the last month of the season. This is the side of the ball in which Ballard seemed to be the most frustrated with when asked about it.
- It seems like Ballard is most frustrated with the deep shots the defense gave up. He said he told defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus that they cannot give up deep shots down the field like they did. It will be a major point of emphasis in the offseason.
- Quincy Wilson looks like he will get another shot next year. Ballard said next year will be a really big year for him. He said Wilson’s confidence was down and that affected his play.
- Tyquan Lewis is in a similar boat. Ballard said he talked with Lewis and told him next season will be a big year for him too. Injuries have prevented Lewis from being able to show what he can do consistently.
- Ballard said the team really missed Kenny Moore down the stretch. He believes Moore is the best nickel corner in the league. He did say Rock Ya-Sin needs to be more consistent, but they were happy about the flashes he showed. Khari Willis will be a big part of the defense moving forward. He thought Pierre Desir‘s injuries affected him all year, and Malik Hooker was a bit too inconsistent.
Staff changes can happen every year. no matter what the outcome of the season was. Ballard said that nothing has been decided, but he did like the staff that was in place. He thinks the issues that they have can be corrected.
The biggest thing Ballard talked about was the need for him to do a better job putting a roster together that has depth. He also underestimated the value of having a veteran that can be a calming presence in the locker room. He took a lot of responsibility for this season’s failures.
We won’t hear from Ballard again until February right before the combine, so it was good to hear his thoughts on this season and where he thinks the current state of the team is.