Throughout the Colts’ Monday press convention saying former All-Professional middle Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach, GM Chris Ballard expressed dissatisfaction with a number of elements of the workforce, significantly the offensive line.
The primary half of that assertion is what I need to take a look at.
“Y’all have been kicking the shit out of me for years for not drafting wideouts and rapidly now, I lookup and we’re underperforming on the offensive line.” That’s what Ballard mentioned.
Anybody who can put two and two collectively most likely realizes what Ballard is saying. The Colts, and significantly Ballard, had been ridiculed for years for not taking large receivers. They’ve been skinny in that division ever since T.Y. Hilton missed practically half of the 2019 season and by no means recovered. So, after a lot outcry from the general public, the Colts used their first choice of the 2022 draft to take Cincinnati receiver Alec Pierce. The Colts may’ve taken Abraham Lucas (I do know they want extra assist at left sort out than proper, but when they needed to bolster their offensive line so badly, he would’ve been piece) or Nicholas Petit-Frere (similar state of affairs) however as a substitute they drafted Pierce. Now that the Colts’ offensive line is underperforming, Ballard needs he may take again that choice.
Whereas Ballard isn’t upset with how Pierce is taking part in, he believes that if he drafted an offensive lineman as a substitute of Pierce, the workforce can be higher off than it at the moment is. That is likely to be true, but it surely wouldn’t resolve the problems plaguing this workforce. No one within the 2022 draft would’ve saved this workforce from the treadmill of mediocrity they’re at the moment using. Why? As a result of 2022 is an amalgamation of a number of issues that had been piling up for the reason that finish of the 2020 season, all because of Mr. Ballard.
Let’s discuss that offensive line. The left sort out place has been in shambles ever since 10-year vet Anthony Castonzo retired following an injury-marred 2020 marketing campaign. Did the Colts draft a sort out to switch him? No. They handed on elite prospect Christian Darrisaw and took Kwity Paye. At this level, the one left sort out on the Colts’ roster was Julie’n Davenport, who was, and nonetheless is, thought to be one of many worst tackles within the NFL. Paye, in the meantime, was meant to switch Denico Autry, who walked in free company earlier within the offseason. Why did he stroll? As a result of the Colts low-balled him. He even threw shade on the Colts for not giving him what he was value after signing with division rival, Tennessee.
Paye has been a high quality participant, but when the Colts had manned up and given Autry what he deserved, they might’ve been in a position to draft Darrisaw. Additionally, Autry wouldn’t be decimating their battered offensive line twice a yr like he’s now. That’s high quality although. The Colts bought their left sort out alternative in free company, signing former Kansas Metropolis Chief No. 1 total decide Eric Fisher to a one-year deal. That sounds good, proper? Properly, Fisher was simply coming off an ACL harm, therefore why he couldn’t play within the Tremendous Bowl towards Tampa Bay. Primarily, the Colts did not pay one among their higher move rushers, tried to switch him within the draft, thus neglecting their offensive line, and tried to repair the offensive line with a 30-year-old contemporary off an ACL tear, whereas their backup was one of many worst tackles within the league. That checks out.
Fisher wasn’t a foul run blocker final yr. Nonetheless, in move safety, you might inform that he wasn’t what he was. He’d misplaced a step, and surrendered seven sacks and 11 quarterback hits, each tied for the most of his profession since 2014. His stress charge had elevated over three p.c from 2020 (8.37 p.c in 2021; 4.84 p.c in 2020) and it was clear he wasn’t their long-term answer. Lo and behold, he’s not on the workforce in 2022.
In the meantime, Darrisaw is killing it because the left sort out in Minnesota. By eight video games, he’s permitting just a little multiple stress per recreation. He’s at the moment bought an 84.6 move blocking grade from PFF. That’s absurd. The Colts may have had him, however the choice to let Autry stroll clouded their judgment. They needed to discover a alternative pass-rusher ASAP. So, if anybody was neglecting the offensive line in Indy, it was Ballard previous to the 2021 offseason.
Now Ballard needs to sit down on his excessive horse and say “Neener, neener! I advised you all! I didn’t need to draft a large receiver, however you all pressured my hand!” Positive, perhaps the workforce can be higher off with a rookie sort out as a substitute of Alec Pierce, however let’s not faux that the strikes that led up to now had been all perpetrated by Ballard as nicely.
The pure awfulness of those strikes solely get amplified while you notice that the Colts uncared for their left sort out place simply earlier than buying and selling for Carson Wentz. Wentz is without doubt one of the worst quarterbacks within the league underneath stress. You’d suppose acquiring a younger, highly-touted left sort out would fall just a little increased on the Colts’ to-do record with that call.
Moreover, it’s not like Ballard was pressured into drafting quite a few wideouts. He drafted one…singular…on this most up-to-date draft. One large receiver, however that’s the choice that ruined every little thing? Man, what sort of backwards assertion was Ballard attempting to make?
Clearly, Ballard is simply upset by the results of his personal actions. Fortunately, by taking part in just a bit recreation of cause-and-effect, we are able to see proper by his facade. The Colts are a foul workforce, not as a result of he drafted Alec Pierce, however as a result of he made quite a few horrible personnel selections following the 2020 season. That’s the underside line.