Chris Ballard Talks 2017 Needs For Colts

Intro: On Monday afternoon, new Colts GM Chris Ballard joined 1070 The Fan for a 20-minute interview that covered a variety of topics about the Colts, his philosophy as a general manager and his plan heading into the Combine and free agency.

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INDIANAPOLIS – It took Chris Ballard about three days to settle in, but he feels the Colts have the proper direction in place for the 2017 offseason and beyond.

Beginning Wednesday, Ballard will be entrenched in 17 straight days of meetings. The meetings will evaluate what the Colts have, and what they need, with the Combine starting on February 28 and free agency beginning on March 9.

One week after Chris Ballard was introduced as the new general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, he hit the local radio airwaves this past Monday.

Here are 10 takeaways from Ballard joining "The Ride with JMV" on 1070 The Fan:

  • On Ballard's early impressions of the Colts:"We've got some work defensively that we need to do and we'll get that done. I think we've got a pretty special player at the quarterback position, but we've got to help him. We've got to make sure we get him protected and give him enough weapons to be successful."
  • On the draft in late April and planning for that:"We aren't drafting for our egos. We are drafting the best players for the Colts. We are about to go through 17 straight days of meetings with our scouts starting on Wednesday. They are long and hard. We will go from 8 to 6 every day with just an hour break. Then I'll meet with our pro staff. If you can't sit in those meetings and express your opinion and you get offended, you don't usually survive very long."
  • On working with Chuck Pagano and the coaching staff:"It's good. Chuck has been very open. I've had meetings with Chuck sitting in with both our offense and defensive staffs and it's been really good. The coaching staff is very open, very honest. They know how I am. Just give it to me. Don't sugarcoat anything. They've been very good to work with."
  • On knowing Pagano was going to be the coach in 2017 and trying to forge the necessary relationship between coach/GM:"Words are words. Your actions at the end of the day (are) what people hang their hats on. The only way you win in this league is when personnel and coaching are on the same page. I didn't have any concerns with (Pagano being here in 2017). You look at Detroit when (new GM Bob) Quinn came in with (retaining head coach Jim) Caldwell and that ended up working out pretty well. What I really understand and have compassion for is coaches have families and you want to do the best job for them because they have to feed their families. We are going to do that, do everything we can to make this work and put a winning product on the field for our fans."
  • On his team building philosophy through the trenches:"It's always about your fronts. When you have a good quarterback and you can have a good offensive and defensive line, you have a chance to win. If that defensive line can get after the quarterback, especially with four people…You all lived it for a long time here in Indy. When you had (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis coming off the edge and Tony (Dungy) was the head coach. That makes all the difference in the world. It covers up for a lot of your mistakes on the backend. I promise you that will always be my mindset. That is something I will always keep my eye on and you always have to be trying to acquire talent at those positions."
  • On if he's met with Andrew Luck yet: "We are meeting (Tuesday). I've met with him a little bit. But we are meeting (Tuesday). He wants to come up and visit and that's good. I want to get close with our players and I'm honest with them. I think that's why I had strong relationships through the years with players. They don't always like what I say (laughs). And that's okay. As long as they know where I'm coming from and always doing the best things for the Colts, they are good with that, they live with that."
  • On his opinion of Luck the quarterback, especially after the Wild Card win over the Chiefs back in January 2014: "I watched him play brilliantly. He was unbelievable that day. I said it earlier it's never about one guy. It never will be about one guy. We've got to help Andrew and we will."
  • On his thoughts regarding the current offensive line personel: "I think he's got some good pieces. With (Anthony) Castonzo and (Jack) Mewhort and (Ryan) Kelly. We've got to get the right side solidified. But we've got some young players in (Joe) Haeg and (Le'Raven) Clark that I think we can build upon. It's definitely an area we will definitely keep our eye on going forward through free agency and the draft."
  • On his thoughts regarding finding linebackers and defensive backs:"I"m a height, weight and speed guy without question. That's kind of what we built in Kansas City. We had a few pieces that were left over that were really good pieces. It's a passing league. At the end of the day, it's a passing league. You've got to be able to, as an inside linebacker, play in space and be able to play on third down. Then on the edge, you've got to be able to rush the passer. You've got to be able to rush the passer."
  • On the Chiefs drafting Tyreek Hill, a rookie Pro Bowler who had off-the-field issues coming into the NFL: "We went A-to-Z on Tyreek Hill. You can't make a decision like that without the entire organization being on board. From ownership to coaching staff to scouting staff, understand how it's going to effect marketing. Anytime you bring a player in the building, everybody needs to be on board with the player. We had a good plan. The plan worked but now we got to keep working the plan. Just because you keep working the plan and have success initially doesn't mean you are going to have a career. You have to go through and continue to work the plan as you go. You don't ever take your foot off the pedal. The same thing with Tyreek. Tyreek is a good young man. He made a bad, bad mistake. But we gave him a second chance and he took advantage of it. I think going forward he will continue to do good things."
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