Chris Ballard and the Colts can learn a lesson from the Jaguars who may win the AFC South
The Jacksonville Jaguars are having a better season than the Indianapolis Colts and that should teach Chris Ballard a lesson.
This was supposed to be the season that the Indianapolis Colts reclaimed the AFC South. Having not won the division since 2014, Indianapolis was the favorite coming into this year. However, with 14 weeks completed, the Tennessee Titans are sitting atop the AFC South at 7-7 and the Jacksonville Jaguars are trailing closely in second at 6-8. The Colts are in third at an underwhelming 4-9-1 with only the Houston Texans behind them at 1-12-1.
While Indianapolis was favored to win, it was expected to be another race with Tennessee. Many thought the Jaguars would improve but the belief was that Jacksonville was still a season or two away from being a serious threat in the division. However, with three weeks left, there’s a chance that the Jaguars could be king of the struggling AFC South. How is that?
The Titans have lost their last four games and Jacksonville is on a two-game winning streak. However, the Jaguars are in this position because of what they did in the offseason, specifically in free agency. During the first couple of days of free agency, Jacksonville was the team dominating headlines because of how much money they were spending. Some applauded the Jaguars’ aggressiveness and others criticized them for overspending on players. However, the spending has Jacksonville in a position to win a divisional championship and make it into the postseason.
Colts should learn from Jaguars and spend more money
What Jacksonville did in free agency is the kind of approach that Chris Ballard despises. During his time in Indianapolis, Ballard has frequently discussed how much he doesn’t want to give B-players A-money as part of the yearly free agency frenzy. Because of that philosophy, the Colts usually take a measured and patient approach that results in Indianapolis missing out on a lot of players. Look where that has gotten the Colts.
They are behind the Jaguars, a team that has had the last two No. 1 picks. For Jacksonville, it is being led in receiving by Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram, three weapons that the team committed $117 million to this offseason. The leading tackler is Foyesade Oluokun, a linebacker Jacksonville gave $45 million. Many other free-agent acquisitions have been positively contributing as well.
Some may argue that the Jaguars are only 6-8, and even if they win out, they’ll only be 9-8. However, that may be good enough to get them into the playoffs. Additionally, if Jacksonville didn’t win another game this season, the six wins would still be two more wins than the team had in their last two seasons combined. That’s a sign of improvement and money well spent. The Colts, on the other hand, are regressing.
If Chris Ballard remains as general manager like Jim Irsay has said he will, he needs to change his philosophy and spend more money in free agency. If Irsay decides to let Ballard go, the next general manager needs to be someone who won’t be hesitant to spend money in free agency.