Through 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 elements of the group, notably 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 swiftly now, I lookup and we’re underperforming on the offensive line.” That’s what Ballard stated.
Anybody who can put two and two collectively in all probability realizes what Ballard is saying. The Colts, and notably Ballard, have been ridiculed for years for not taking vast receivers. They’ve been skinny in that division ever since T.Y. Hilton missed almost half of the 2019 season and by no means recovered. So, after a lot outcry from the general public, the Colts used their first collection 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 deal with than proper, but when they wished to bolster their offensive line so badly, he would’ve been a great 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 taking part in, he believes that if he drafted an offensive lineman as a substitute of Pierce, the group could be higher off than it at present is. That may be true, but it surely wouldn’t remedy the problems plaguing this group. No one within the 2022 draft would’ve saved this group from the treadmill of mediocrity they’re at present driving. 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 due to Mr. Ballard.
Let’s speak about that offensive line. The left deal with 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 deal with to interchange him? No. They handed on elite prospect Christian Darrisaw and took Kwity Paye. At this level, the one left deal with 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 interchange 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 wonderful participant, but when the Colts had manned up and given Autry what he deserved, they’d’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 wonderful although. The Colts obtained their left deal with substitute in free company, signing former Kansas Metropolis Chief No. 1 total 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 in opposition to Tampa Bay. Basically, the Colts did not pay one in every of their higher cross rushers, tried to interchange 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 cross 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 career 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 resolution. Lo and behold, he’s not on the group in 2022.
In the meantime, Darrisaw is killing it because the left deal with in Minnesota. By way of eight video games, he’s permitting slightly a couple of pressure per game. He’s at present obtained an 84.6 cross 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 substitute 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 instructed you all! I didn’t need to draft a large receiver, however you all pressured my hand!” Positive, perhaps the group could be higher off with a rookie deal with as a substitute of Alec Pierce, however let’s not faux that the strikes that led up to now have been all perpetrated by Ballard as effectively.
The pure awfulness of those strikes solely get amplified while you understand that the Colts uncared for their left deal with place simply earlier than buying and selling for Carson Wentz. Wentz is among the worst quarterbacks within the league beneath strain. You’d suppose acquiring a younger, highly-touted left deal with would fall slightly greater on the Colts’ to-do checklist 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 part? 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 will see proper by his facade. The Colts are a foul group, 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.