During Monday’s press conference with the Colts announcing former All-Pro center Jeff Saturday as their interim head coach, GM Chris Ballard expressed displeasure with some parts of the team, notably the attack goods.
The first half of that statement is what I want to look at.
“You’ve all been kicking me for years for not drafting expansions and suddenly now, I look up and we’re underperforming up front.” That’s what Ballard said.
Anyone who can put two and two together can recognize what Ballard is saying. The Colts, and Ballard in particular, were mocked for years for not using wide receivers. They have been thin in that division since TY Hilton missed almost half of the 2019 season and never recovered. So, after much public outcry, the Colts used the 2022 draft first pick to take Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce recipient. The Colts could have taken out Abraham Lucas (I know they need more help with left than right, but if they’re so bad at reinforcing their attack, he’d be a pawn) or Nicholas Petit -Frere (same situation) but they drafted Pierce instead. Now that the Colts’ attack is underperforming, Ballard wishes he could withdraw that choice.
While Ballard is unhappy with the way Pierce is playing, he believes that if he drafted an attacking forward instead of Pierce, the team would be better off than it is now. That may be true, but it won’t solve the problems that are causing this group. No one in the 2022 draft can save this team from the reels of mediocrity they currently ride. Why? Because 2022 is the sum of several problems that have piled up since the end of the 2020 season, all thanks to Mr. Ballard.
Let’s talk about that insulting line. The left handle position has been shaky since 10-year vet Anthony Castonzo retired from a 2020 campaign due to an injury. Colts drafted a solution to replace him? No. They passed Christian Darrisaw the elite prospect and took Kwity Paye. At this point, the only save left on the Colts’ roster was Julie’n Davenport, who was and still is considered one of the worst tackles in the NFL. Paye, meanwhile, comes in to replace Deniso Autry, who had joined the free agency job earlier in the season. Why is he walking? Because the Colts brought him down. He even threw shade at the Colts for not giving him what he was worth after signing with divisional rival, Tennessee.
Paye is a good player, but if the Colts had taken the reins and given Autry what he deserved, they would have been able to draft Darrisaw. Also, Autry won’t wreak havoc on their devastating offensive line twice a year like it does now. That is good though. The Colts received their left-hand replacement in free agency, signing former Kansas City #1 Director Eric Fisher to a one-year deal. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, Fisher just got an ACL injury, hence why he couldn’t play in the Super Bowl against Tampa Bay. Basically, the Colts failed to return one of their better overline passes, tried to replace him in the draft, thus ignoring their offensive line, and tried to repair the offensive line with a 30-year-old player just recovered from an ACL tear, while their backup was one of the worst tackles in the league. Check that.
Last year, Fisher wasn’t a bad run blocker. However, in the pass guard, you can say that he’s not what he used to be. He lost a step, and surrendered seven sacks and 11 midfield hits, both tied for most of his career since 2014. His pressure ratio is up more than 3 percent from 2020 (8.37 percent in 2021; 4.84 percent in 2020) and he’s clearly not the winner. their permanent law. Lo and behold, he’s not on the team in 2022.
Meanwhile, Darrisaw is killing it as a left tackle in Minnesota. Across eight games, he allows more than one pressure every match. He has now received 84.6 pass interceptions from the PFF. That is absurd. The Colts could have gotten him, but the decision to let Autry walk clouded their judgment. They must find a replacement pass-rusher as soon as possible. So if anyone missed the attack in Indy, it’s Ballard ahead of the 2021 season.
Now Ballard wants to sit on his tall horse and say “Neener, neener! I told you all! I don’t want to sketch a wide stethoscope, but you all tied my hands! Sure, maybe the team would be better off with a rookie instead of Alec Pierce, but don’t pretend that the moves leading up to this point were all made by Ballard.
The pure horror of these moves is only amplified when you realize that the Colts omitted their left handle position just before trading for Carson Wentz. Wentz is one of the worst defense quartets in the league when under a lot of pressure. You’d think that winning a young, highly regarded backhand would fall a little higher on the Colts’ to-do list with that decision.
Furthermore, it’s not like Ballard was forced to draft multiple expansions. He sketched out a… a few… in this most recent draft. A wide receiver, but that decision ruined everything? Man, what kind of backstory is Ballard trying to make?
Apparently, Ballard was only upset by the consequences of his own actions. Thankfully, just by playing a little game of cause and effect, we can see his facade right off the bat. The Colts are a bad team, not because he drafted Alec Pierce, but because he made a lot of bad staffing decisions after the 2020 season. That’s the bottom line.