INDIANAPOLIS —Chris Ballard held a press conference on Wednesday, but it certainly was not the one he envisioned just 24 hours prior.
Instead of formally welcoming Josh McDaniels, who had agreed to terms to become the Indianapolis Colts' next head coach, to Indy, Ballard was explaining to reporters how — why — he was moving forward with other candidates.
McDaniels, the team announced on Tuesday evening, had in fact decided not to take the Colts' job. And now, with the NFL Scouting Combine less than three weeks away, free agency beginning in five weeks and the team's offseason workout program set to begin in a little less than two months, Ballard and the Colts forge on in their search for their new leader.
So what happened with McDaniels? And where do the Colts go from here? Here are some highlights from Ballard's press conference:
• Ballard first opened up by expressing his thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Colts inside linebacker Edwin Jackson and Jeffrey Monroe, who were struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver early Sunday morning in Indianapolis. Despite any feelings of disappointment by Tuesday's developments, Ballard said it's important to keep everything in perspective. "I want all of you to make sure that you keep in perspective what's important in life, and that's human life, and that's people. How we treat people, telling the people that you're close to that you love them every day, because tomorrow's not promised to any of us — it's not."
• Now on to the coaching situation, Ballard said he had no gotten no sense of second thoughts from McDaniels Monday night heading into Tuesday morning. The team released news late Tuesday morning that it had agreed to terms with McDaniels to become its head coach, and later in the afternoon announced an introductory press conference had been set for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium. But around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, McDaniels called Ballard with some "bad news." "I just said, I just needed a yes-or-no answer: 'Are you in or out?'" Ballard recalled. "We went around for a minute and he said he's out, and I said, 'OK. We're going to move forward and I wish you the best of luck.'"
• Ballard said he did not try to persuade McDaniels to change his mind. "I want someone who is 100 percent committed," he said. Asked what McDaniels' explanation was, Ballard said: "I didn't want the explanation. You're either in or out." Ballard later told reporters, "Josh McDaniels is a good football coach and I wish him the best moving forward." McDaniels will reportedly remain in his role as the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator.
• The Colts had already hired a few assistant coaches to join what would've been McDaniels' new staff, and Ballard confirmed that those contracts would continue to be honored. One of them, he confirmed, is Matt Eberflus, who is set to become the team's defensive coordinator and had spent the previous seven seasons as linebackers coach/passing game coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys.
• Asked if Andrew Luck's continuing rehab work on his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder could be a factor in McDaniels' decision, Ballard re-emphasized that anybody who comes on as head coach will know that "it's never about one guy." Asked a follow-up about Luck's status, Ballard said the quarterback was yet to pick up a football in his workouts, but, "At this point, we feel very strongly that Andrew is in a good place. He doesn't need (additional) surgery. … His strength is good. He's working on his throw motion and he's working on his arm speed right now."
• Moving forward, though there were other candidates interviewed who have since been hired elsewhere, Ballard said there were plenty of other names he had already vetted who weren't initially interviewed that now become the team's new list of head coaching possibilities. Like he emphasized when the spot became open at the conclusion of the 2017 season, Ballard said he will not attach a timetable to once again find the right candidate. "To me, it's about being right. You've gotta be right. it doesn't matter if you're the first out of the box and everybody praises you, or you're the last one to make the hire. We want to be right."
"You can bet we're going to get there," Ballard said. "Unquestionably, we're going to get there. We have a list of candidates -- we've had them from the get go. We'll move forward with them and we will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts — one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go. I'm very confident in this."
Colts General Manager, Chris Ballard, spoke to the media on Wednesday morning about recent events.