A partnership in the leather seats is a commonality for each of the 32 franchises. One head coach, one general manager, tasked with creating and developing a roster set to compete each and every fall. However, a relationship between the two isn’t as common, as power-heavy executives and failed front office duos crumble organizational skeletons, leading to dismay among the ranks.
In Indianapolis, the relationship and mirroring ability of current general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich has formed a parallel connection matched by few in a revolving door of NFL brass.
"In Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, we have as great a general manager-head coach combination as there is in the NFL,” Colts team owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. “I truly believe this football team is on the doorstep of great things, and that’s because of the culture both have cultivated in their time with the Horseshoe. Whether we are marching toward the playoffs or facing adversity, whether we are building our roster or making a difference in the community, we have the ideal leaders in Chris and Frank.”
Behind years of praise of Ballard’s ability to scout, evaluate, and acquire talent, and Reich’s knack of developing said talent while consistently progressing the roster behind a unique offensive mind, Irsay put his money where his mouth is, extending both of his organizational figureheads through the 2026 campaign.
However, it was nearly a story of “what if,” as their alliance nearly never came to existence.
Following four seasons in a variety of roles with the Kansas City Chiefs, Ballard took the Colts gig in 2017. After a season in turmoil working with Chuck Pagano and a 4-12 Andrew Luck-less campaign, the Colts fired Pagano, and in turn, set their sights on Josh McDaniels to right the ship.
Not so fast.
Instead of making the move to Indianapolis, McDaniels opted to return to his comfy confines of New England, leaving Ballard without much wiggle room as he searched for the Colts’ next head bench boss.
Enter Reich, a leader by trade coming off a Super Bowl victory with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the rest is history.
“What Frank and Chris have built here, Mr. Irsay has built here, to be able to keep it going, it’s a culture that they have set here that everybody wants to be a part of,” offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said.
Now three seasons deep into their mastheading of the Colts, the duo of what almost never was has provided two playoff appearances, a slew of youth-infused talent, along with a constant shuffle under center following the shocking retirement of their franchise quarterback.
However, there is MUCH work still to be done.
On the heels of an AFC South division title last fall, the Colts have been dealt, once again, with questions under center following the injury to Carson Wentz, whose current timetable is trending upward for a Week 1 start following foot surgery. A roster predicated on its ability to dominate the defensive side of the football behind one of the league's top front sevens, Reich’s offense is where you’ll find the spotlight at its brightest with optimism aplenty surrounding second-year running back Jonathan Taylor and wideout Parris Campbell, who has yet to make an impact within Indianapolis’ offense since Ballard used a second-round selection on the former Ohio State standout in 2019.
To repeat as division champions and take their next step up the ladder toward a Lombardi Trophy, the Colts must all harmonize to the same tune if they eye postseason progression. Luckily for the Indianapolis faithful, their stars will long be aligned under the tandem of Ballard and Reich.
- Dec 08, 2022
- Dec 08, 2022