In the course of the Colts’ Monday press convention asserting former All-Professional heart Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach, GM Chris Ballard expressed dissatisfaction with a number of components of the crew, significantly the offensive line.
The primary half of that assertion is what I wish to have a look at.
“Y’all have been kicking the shit out of me for years for not drafting wideouts and impulsively now, I lookup and we’re underperforming on the offensive line.” That’s what Ballard mentioned.
Anybody who can put two and two collectively in all probability realizes what Ballard is saying. The Colts, and significantly Ballard, had been ridiculed for years for not taking vast 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 wished to bolster their offensive line so badly, he would’ve been a superb piece) or Nicholas Petit-Frere (identical scenario) 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 enjoying, he believes that if he drafted an offensive lineman as a substitute of Pierce, the crew can be higher off than it at the moment is. That is perhaps true, nevertheless it wouldn’t clear up the problems plaguing this crew. No one within the 2022 draft would’ve saved this crew from the treadmill of mediocrity they’re at the moment driving. Why? As a result of 2022 is an amalgamation of a number of issues that had been piling up because the finish of the 2020 season, all due to Mr. Ballard.
Let’s speak about 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, considered 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 superb participant, but when the Colts had manned up and given Autry what he deserved, they might’ve been capable of draft Darrisaw. Additionally, Autry wouldn’t be decimating their battered offensive line twice a 12 months like he’s now. That’s superb although. The Colts received their left sort out alternative in free company, signing former Kansas Metropolis Chief No. 1 general decide Eric Fisher to a one-year deal. That sounds good, proper? Nicely, Fisher was simply coming off an ACL damage, therefore why he couldn’t play within the Tremendous Bowl towards Tampa Bay. Primarily, the Colts didn’t pay one in every of their higher go 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 recent 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 12 months. Nonetheless, in go safety, you would 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 strain fee 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 crew in 2022.
In the meantime, Darrisaw is killing it because the left sort out in Minnesota. By means of eight video games, he’s permitting somewhat multiple strain per sport. He’s at the moment received an 84.6 go blocking grade from PFF. That’s absurd. The Colts may have had him, however the determination 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 desires to take a seat on his excessive horse and say “Neener, neener! I informed you all! I didn’t wish to draft a large receiver, however you all pressured my hand!” Positive, possibly the crew can be higher off with a rookie sort out as a substitute of Alec Pierce, however let’s not fake that the strikes that led so far had been all perpetrated by Ballard as nicely.
The pure awfulness of those strikes solely get amplified if you notice that the Colts uncared for their left sort out place simply earlier than buying and selling for Carson Wentz. Wentz is among the worst quarterbacks within the league below strain. You’d assume acquiring a younger, highly-touted left sort out would fall somewhat larger 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 vast receiver, however that’s the choice that ruined every little thing? Man, what sort of backwards assertion was Ballard making an attempt to make?
Clearly, Ballard is simply upset by the implications of his personal actions. Fortunately, by enjoying just a bit sport of cause-and-effect, we are able to see proper by way of his facade. The Colts are a foul crew, not as a result of he drafted Alec Pierce, however as a result of he made quite a few horrible personnel choices following the 2020 season. That’s the underside line.