PHOENIX — What happens when you gather together all of the National Football League's owners, general managers and head coaches all in one place?
Well, other than revealing which new rules and bylaws will go into effect for the 2017 season, these annual League Meetings are an ideal time to get an update on your favorite team at a critical time, as it it prepares for both the beginning of its offseason workout program as well as the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Indianapolis Colts brass, as usual, was more than willing to share those updates with the media this week at the League Meetings in Phoenix, as Owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Chuck Pagano each had plenty to say about the road ahead as the Colts continue to forge forward into the 2017 season.
So, to get you all caught up, we've collected the 10 best quotes from the Colts' trip to Phoenix, which feature a wide variety of topics:
• "(Ballard) definitely has some Bill Polian in him, a Hall of Famer and a guy we think the world of. (Ballard) definitely holds some of those long-held beliefs in the scouting world with that team-building aspect that he believes in. I just couldn't be more thrilled at seeing the strong traits that Chris has, watching him work. Also, the great relationships that he has in all aspects of the work that he does, whether it be sports agents, other general managers, college coaches, etc." — Irsay, on what he's seen out of Ballard in his first couple months as the Colts' general manager.
• "We won't be (afraid to trade back). We will not be timid about moving around in the draft. Will it happen? I don't know. There's some years we said that in Kansas City and we didn't make one trade. And then last year we beat bopped around a few times in the draft. You've got to have a partner that's willing to trade with and you have to be willing to work out the compensation." — Ballard, on the possibility of trading back to earn more picks in the draft.
• "He's a big, physical guy that can play with the ball in his hands, without the ball in his hands. He will be a force in the run game. He's not afraid to mix it up. He will do the dirty work. He's a great pro. He's a smart, intelligent guy. He understands what it takes day in and day out to become a really good football player. We've had some bigger guys (in Indianapolis), but just not enough of them. He brings a big physical presence to that room." — Pagano, on what new Colts wide receiver Kamar Aiken brings to the table.
• "The offense is pretty darn mature at areas where you have to be, quarterback and offensive line. I think we can put points up on the board." — Irsay, on the status of the Colts' offense heading into the 2017 season.
• "This is not the ideal (situation) when you're coming in. There can be tension. But there's been zero tension. It's been really fun to go to work every day. And I really look for that." — Ballard, on the process of getting on the same page as Pagano and his coaching staff.
• "From a leadership standpoint, it's his room now. And he's earned that. He will continue to come in every single day. I don't ever have to worry about Jack Doyle. I know exactly where he's going to be. I know he's going to be prepared mentally and physically. It's continue to do what he does on the football field for us. The role won't change significantly, but from a leadership standpoint, I think he's going to need to be a little bit more vocal." — Pagano, on what he wants to see out of Jack Doyle now that he's the clear-cut No. 1 tight end on the roster.
• "Again, it is not a situation where Chuck has to win and win big or else he is gone. Chris and I are going to be evaluating his progress in a lot of different ways. A lot of it depends on the health of your team and just the way you feel like you are trending and you are playing." — Irsay, on how Ballard and him will evaluate Pagano's performance in 2017.
• "I guess after a couple of weeks on the job I knew we were older on defense and we weren't going to be able to fix everything in the draft, and we wanted to get some young, veteran talent to up the competition level." — Ballard, on the team's approach to free agency — signing 10 free agents — after originally cautioning against utilizing free agency too much if each situation wasn't ideal.
• "I would be lying if I said it wasn't (unsettling). I can't lie to you. Yeah, you want to have your guy available and you want to have him year around and we've got to adapt. That's what great teams and great organizations have to do. You have to adapt and you have to adjust on the fly, so we'll do that." — Pagano, on the prospect of doing without quarterback Andrew Luck for at least some of the offseason program as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
• "The O-line is very young, but I think it has a chance to really grow. It's been fun to watch that group work together. They are all in the building working together. And that's been fun to see. All their workouts they are doing them together." — Ballard, on the work being put in by the Colts' offensive linemen this offseason.
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