Colts general manager Chris Ballard joined Voice of the Colts Matt Taylor on Monday to zoom out on the the 2021 season so far, which is at its halfway(ish) point through Week 9. You can listen to the full interview below or on the Colts Audio Network wherever you get your podcasts:
Some highlights from Ballard's breakdown of the 2021 Colts:
On where the team stands entering Week 10:
"At 4-5 we're not where we want to be but what I would tell you is we're getting better. Unequivocally we're getting better, and that's been fun to watch. We didn't play good football the first three weeks of the season for whatever reason. But since that point, starting with Miami, each and every week we've got better.
"We've still not put together what I would say all three phases clicking yet, so that's good news, but we're encouraged. I'm very encouraged by where we're going, the improvement we're making in every phase. We definitely got things we need to work on and get better at but we like the direction we're heading."
On quarterback Carson Wentz:
"We're encouraged. Coming in to — no matter what, even with Carson and Frank's relationship and past history, we knew there was going to be an acclimation period where he needed to get comfortable with what we were doing offensively even though he had run a lot of it, there still were some new things that we do here that I know he didn't do in Philadelphia. And also watching him each and every week, watching his confidence grow and watching the entire offense's confidence grow has been good to see, especially starting to get some more continuity along the O-line, being able to protect him better, all those things have led to him being able to play good football."
On running back Jonathan Taylor:
"Sometimes you get lucky. Look, we thought we were getting a pretty special player when we moved up in the draft to get him. I thought the end of last year, the last 7-8 games of the season, I don't think we're seeing anything different than we saw then. He had a little bit of a slow start last year but once he got his footing and understood the speed of the game and what it took to play in this league, I don't see anything different than we saw at the end of last year.
"If I could tell you the one area that he's really worked on hard and improved on is in the passing game. Now he's a threat in that area also. He's a complete back, he's a three-down player, he's got some little things he's still gotta improve on but he's explosive and he's a home run waiting to happen. Very fortunate he's a part of our team. He stands for everything we want to stand for. He's a really special, special player."
On the Colts' injuries this season:
"Nobody cares about your problems and injuries are a part of the NFL. This happens to everybody. We talk about it all the time, we gotta do — our pro staff does a tremendous job — but we gotta constantly be churning the roster and the practice squad, making sure we have the right guys that can move up and play. If you're on the roster in any capacity, whether you're on the 53 or you're on the practice squad, we consider you — there's a good chance you're going to play. And it's made it tough not only on the team but also our coaches with all the influx of starters we've had in and out, but that's our jobs. We have to find a way to win.
"Nobody — on Sunday, all they care is if you won or lost. Who's playing and who's not playing, that doesn't' factor into the equation at the end of the day. We gotta do the best we can to make sure we have the best players for our coaching staff that gives them a chance to win every Sunday."
On the Colts' pass rush:
"It's been solid. I think we're right in the middle of the league with 19 sacks right now, and we've actually missed some opportunities, falling off some sacks and just thinking back to Baltimore and Tennessee, we had some chances to get some sacks and we just didn't finish. But I think the group's getting better, without question. I do think we have a dominant player, without question, in (DeForest) Buckner. People are sliding — they do a lot to take Buckner away.
"But Grover Stewart, the last couple games, he's done a really nice job affecting the quarterback and our young players, between Paye and Muhammad — it's unfortunate with Lewis' injury because Tyquan was playing really good football for us. But we want to be able to play all of them and we want them all to be able to affect the quarterback in some way. And I think as we go on throughout the season you'll continue to see a rotation with all these guys trying to keep them fresh and seeing if we can't up our numbers a little bit going forward."