Chris Ballard had never been a general manager prior to taking the position with the Indianapolis Colts. You would think that the rookie GM has had his fair share of experience over his 16-year stretch in NFL front offices, given his lofty goal for a static franchise.
Ballard wants to be the NFL’s version of the Chicago Cubs. He wants to mirror Cubs general manager Theo Epstein’s mantra of fluently rebuilding and establishing a winning culture.
Talking is one thing; doing is another. Whether the Colts follow suit in the Cubs’ blueprint down the road or not, this has to be a wake-up call for Indianapolis fans.
Prior to being appointed general manager of the franchise, the Colts were on a downward spiral with Ryan Grigson, who was relieved of his in late January. Handing him the pink slip was the best decision the organization could make after Grigson swung and missed in the drafts, made questionable trades and put an untalented roster on the field on a weekly basis.
Though tough to strike out harder during the latest general manager carousel, it has to give fans a sense of optimism that Ballard’s already mapping out the future before the team even takes the field. He’s also poised to fix two things that Grigson couldn’t: don’t put all the eggs in quarterback Andrew Luck’s basket, and don’t try to build a dynasty overnight.
“It takes time to build a team,” Ballard said, per ESPN. “… Do we have work in front of us? Yes, we do. But it takes time. And the biggest thing that I want to make sure that we’re emphasizing is that competition and they have to earn it. It doesn’t matter where you come from and how we build it or where, from first-round pick to undrafted free agent to street free agent, guy that was cut at the 53-[man roster], future signing.”
Ballard inherits a team that’s off back-to-back 8-8 seasons in a weak AFC South division, but it’s a fixable problem. The team is miles ahead from where the Cubs were before Epstein cleaned it up en route to a 2016 World Series win. As for Ballard, he’s already miles ahead of the curve.