INDIANAPOLIS – After a little more than a week of evaluation, Chris Ballard knows where the roster he now oversees must get better.
"We've got some work defensively that we need to do and we'll get that done," Ballard said earlier this week, on 1070 The Fan.
Ballard has dissected enough film to know where the general focus has to be for the Colts.
Every level of the defense going into 2017 has questions that need answers.
The biggest fix for the Colts is on Ballard's mind.
"At the end of the day, it's a passing league," Ballard says. "You've got to be able to rush the passer."
When analyzing the defensive concerns going into 2017, the least probably starts with the defensive interior.
- Defensive Line: Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson should return to their 2015 form, after battling injuries in 2016. Is the durable David Parry still the answer at nose tackle for a third straight season? One of Ballard's core beliefs in roster building is a strong defensive front, something he says he will always have an eye on.
- Linebacker: Off the edge Robert Mathis is enjoying retirement and Erik Walden/Trent Cole are a month away from free agency. The lack of consistent pressure last season for the Colts, combined with three edge guys possibly gone, has outside linebacker as the position group which could very well see the most turnover in 2017. Inside linebacker is also an area of question, as Ballard looks for ILBs who "can play in space" and on three downs. The team freed up some cap space on Thursay when they released veteran .
- Secondary: Vontae Davis is the only given starter going into 2017. Clayton Geathers is a present/future piece somewhere, but will he change positions down to linebacker? Are T.J. Green (safety) and Patrick Robinson (cornerback) starters next season? The Colts also must handle the free agency cases for Mike Adams and Darius Butler. In Kansas City, Ballard helped the Chiefs with a major overhaul in the makeup of their secondary.
With more than $50 million of cap space and drafting in the first six rounds come April, the Colts will have chances to begin a major rebuild of their defense.
"Defense wins championships," Ballard says. "I know you have to score points, but I've been blessed to be in this league to work for two places where we've been pretty special on defense – Chicago and Kansas City.
"That definitely is a priority and that's probably why I have such respect for Chuck (Pagano) because he is a defensive head coach."
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