One of the first challenges that new Colts GM Chris Ballard will face in leading the team is forming a relationship with head coach Chuck Pagano.
It’s an unusual situation, as Ballard comes to a team with the head coach already in place rather than choosing his own coach. But he seems on board with Pagano as the coach and is excited to get to work with him.
“It’s good, because the second I got done with, [when] Mr. Irsay offered me the job, the first thing I wanted to do was go see Coach,” Ballard told Colts.com last week. “He’s smart, he’s passionate about football, he knows what he wants to do, he’s won a lot of games here. So there’s a lot of positive things we can do moving forward with Coach Pagano.”
Pagano is entering his sixth season as the coach of the Colts, while Ballard is in his first year as a GM. So he’ll need to form that relationship with the coach, and he seems to have already begun to do that. He’s emphasized that it will be a team effort and that him and Pagano will work together for what’s best for the Colts. Ballard realizes, however, that he needs to earn the respect of Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff.
“Hey look, I’ve got to earn their respect,” he said. “And that takes time. And I plan on doing that. I plan on doing that the right way. And look, words are cheap. Anybody can come up here and say the right things and sell it, but your actions are what matter. So eventually my actions will speak, and they’ll figure that out.”
Ballard also mentioned that, though he doesn’t try to be a coach, his background in coaching can help him build those relationships.
“Yeah, I mean, I speak their language,” he said. “I understand where they’re coming from. I never try to be a coach; I’m an evaluator. At the end of the day, that’s what I am. So I never try to dictate or make suggestions schematically of what they should be doing. But no, it helps form the relationship without question.”
Earlier this week, Ballard appeared on the radio with 1070 the Fan’s JMV to talk about a number of things related to the Colts, and he mentioned that he’s already begun working with the coaches. He said that he’s had meetings with Pagano and the offensive and defensive staffs, and he said the coaching staff has been very open and honest with him and hasn’t sugar-coated things.
With the NFL Scouting Combine fast approaching and then the start of free agency and the draft looming on the horizon after that, it’s important that Ballard develop those relationships with the coaches and staff members early on. And he knows that it won’t just be with words and impressive press conferences but by displaying it with his actions. He’s right about that, and it sounds like he’s committed to developing positive relationships with Chuck Pagano, the coaches, and others within the building.