Who deserves more credit for the Colts’ turnaround, Shane Steichen or Chris Ballard?

The Indianapolis Colts had an incredible turnaround in 2023. Who was the catalyst for the success, head coach Shane Steichen or general manager Chris Ballard?
Indianapolis Colts Training Camp
Indianapolis Colts Training Camp / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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With the end of the regular season, now comes the offseason for the Indianapolis Colts. Indy finished the year at 9-8, a vast improvement from last years 4-12-1 campaign where the team lost its final seven games under then interim coach Jeff Saturday. Some fans believe this was a worst-case scenario of getting a mid-round pick with no playoff spot and some fans (myself included) feel that the fan base needed that winning taste back in their mouth to get some energy back amongst everyone.

So now the debate begins. Was this year’s success more on Colts general manager Chris Ballard and his personnel team or was it more on head coach Shane Steichen and his coaching staff.

The Case for Chris Ballard

Roster construction

The key job of any GM is to make sure that the roster is set at the beginning of training camp to give the franchise the best opportunity to win. We have seen in the past with Ballard, his unwillingness to part with some of his players. He also has been very timid in free agency instead opting to build from the draft. He has never been a GM that goes for the splashy signing to get headlines on websites, he wants the best guys for the scheme they are running and won’t overpay a player to get him unless he is completely sold on the player. This has been helpful when they do need to release a player. His contracts are typically clean, meaning he doesn’t have much dead cap space tied up in the event the player’s contract needs to be eliminated.

The Matt Ryan contract had some dead money this year and the Shaq Leonard contract will be on the books for next year but it was an amount that can be handled properly by the team and won’t stop them from getting new players on the roster. Ballard (with Steichen) have been very diligent in keeping the roster equipped even with all the injuries this season. He did a great job with having a security blanket for Anthony Richardson with Gardner Minshew and Zack Moss for Jonathan Taylor. He kept us with depth along the roster, but he did refuse to have a lot of veteran depth and that was noticeable in the secondary. While having bodies to rotate is great, if those players don’t have the talent then its completely irrelevant. Bringing in some new veteran bodies would be beneficial for next season.