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Indianapolis Colts

Coaching/General Manager Relationship "Essential" For Chris Ballard

Intro: From the start of the general manager interview process, Jim Irsay had Chuck Pagano fully involved. Why is Chris Ballard the right candidate for a cohesive relationship with coaches?


INDIANAPOLIS – His new title of Colts GM was barely a few minutes old before Chris Ballard was thinking of the man he will be working in unison with quite a bit in the coming weeks and months.

Jim Irsay had offered Ballard the job. Ballard had accepted.

It was time to go see Chuck Pagano.

"The second I got done when Mr. Irsay offered me the job, I wanted to go see Coach," Ballard says.

It was an early step in trying to build a relationship that Ballard stressed is "essential" for success in a league chockfull of parity.

From his early talks with Pagano, Ballard has come away impressed.

"He's smart, passionate about football," Ballard says of Pagano.

"He knows what he wants to do, so there's a lot of positive things we want to do going forward with coach Pagano."

One aspect of Ballard's past that has helped him in his relationship with coaches is his own experience.

Ballard was a college assistant coach for seven years.

That history as a collegiate coach is something Ballard tries to use when blending the scouting side of things with the coaching staff.

"I speak their language," Ballard says of coaches. "I understand where they are coming from. I never try to be a coach. That's not (me). I'm an evaluator at the end of the day. So I never try to dictate (or) make suggestions schematically of what they should be doing.

"(But) it helps form the relationship, without question."

In trying to start the GM/coach relationship early, Jim Irsay had Pagano meet with all six interviewees late last month.

What stood out about Ballard was his ability to relate, and communicate.

"Not just the knowledge and experience and all the traits necessary for a general manager to have learned in the NFL, but the communication skills to get those across to others," Irsay said of Ballard's characteristics. "To make sure from the head coach to all the players on the team to everyone in the organization that he's clearly speaking their language and there's nothing lost in translation, so to speak.

"I think that's really important because sometimes you can have the right ideas, the right vision, the right passion, the right work ethic and sometimes when you go out there and try to get people to follow you and really believe that this is the way, some people falter when they get down those lines because it really takes a really good communicator in this job."

How Ballard exactly goes about that will be through his words, but also (more importantly) through his actions.

Ballard is walking into an environment where the entire scouting staff under Ryan Grigson remains. Only one coach (wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal) is different from the end of the 2016 season.

Time for Ballard to go to work.

"I've got to earn their respect and I plan on doing that," Ballard says. "I plan on doing that the right way.

"Words are cheap. Anyone can get up here and say the right thing. Anyone can sell it. Your actions are what matter. Eventually, my actions will speak and they will figure that out."

Chris Ballard, Colts new General Manager, arrives in Indianapolis.

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