Colts Urged to Make More Changes After Loss to Patriots

Chris Ballard

Getty General manager Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts announced that they have fired head coach Frank Reich.

There are a lot of questions surfacing with the Indianapolis Colts firing head coach Frank Reich on November 7. But perhaps the top question remaining for fans has to do with general manager Chris Ballard.

Will Ballard remain Colts general manager and be given the opportunity to hire the next Indianapolis head coach?

If that question were up to Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo, the answer would be a resounding no.

“In order to not risk wasting some brilliant defensive talent; Shaquille Leonard, Zaire Franklin, Stephon Gillmore, etc., Irsay may need to make the difficult decision and bring about sweeping change from Ballard on down to Reich,” wrote Lombardo on November 7.

Lombardo also called for the Colts to fire Reich, which came to fruition when the team announced Reich’s firing in the late morning on November 7.

An Organizational Failure

The Colts have lost three straight games, and November 7 was the start of the third straight week where the Colts essentially announced a scapegoat for their offensive problems.

On October 24, the Colts benched veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. In 7 games this season, Ryan had 11 interceptions and 11 fumbles, and Reich basically made the argument, despite new starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s lack of experience, that Ehlinger’s mobility gave Indianapolis a better chance to win.

But the Colts have continued to lose with Ehlinger. Then on November 1, Reich announced firing offensive coordinator Marcus Brady.

Not that Ryan and Brady are not to blame for Indianapolis’ league-low 132 points scored this season. But the Colts have gotten closer to the problem with firing Reich.

The truth, though, is what The Athletic’s Zack Keefer tweeted after the announcement of Reich being fired. There’s plenty of blame to go around for everyone.

“Everyone’s hands are dirty in this failure — Frank Reich, Chris Ballard, Jim Irsay — but no coach, ever, should start his career with 5 different Week 1 QBs in five successive seasons,” tweeted Keefer.

“That is an organizational failure.”

Reich is part of the reason why he’s hade five signal callers in five different Week 1 games. He was reportedly an advocate for both Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz. Then when the Colts shipped Wentz out of town, they didn’t have a first-round pick to start with a young signal caller this season.

So the quarterback cycle repeated with Ryan.

But Ballard is arguably just as much to blame as Reich for Indianapolis’ offensive collapse this season.

Ballard’s 2022 Offseason Failures

Reich couldn’t find a way to record more than 121 yards on offense against the New England Patriots in Week 9. That was embarrassing and the final straw for Reich.

But the head coach can only cook with the ingredients he’s given. Ballard did not buy the right groceries this past offseason.

Signing unproven offensive lineman Matt Pryor to start at left tackle has turned into a colossal mistake this season. Pryor lost his job at left tackle and didn’t work at right tackle. In Week 9, he was also benched at right guard.

In addition to trusting left tackle to Pryor (and rookie project Bernhard Raimann), Ballard let guards Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed leave in free agency. Both were key to the Colts overcoming multiple injuries and COVID absences during the 2021 season.

Making matters worse, pro bowler offensive linemen Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Branden Smith are also not playing up to their reputations.

Add this all up, and the Colts have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. In Week 9, it resulted in one of the most embarrassing offensive performances in the NFL this season.

“How dysfunctional were the Colts against the Patriots? Indianapolis averaged 2.0 yards per play on offense,” Lombardo wrote.

“After five offseasons with Chris Ballard at the helm, as general manager, and four-plus with Reich as head coach, it’s almost unfathomable that the Colts’ offense could be this inept.”

In addition to averaging 2.0 yards per play, Indianapolis allowed 9.0 sacks against the Patriots. The Colts have yielded 35.0 sacks this season, which is more than they allowed all of last year.

Reich has taken responsibility for that failure. It might be time for Ballard to as well.

Read More