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Relationship between Chris Ballard, Chuck Pagano off to a “great” start

Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

One of the big topics of discussion in Indianapolis this offseason has been the relationship between the Colts’ general manager and head coach.

That’s understandable, considering Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano really didn’t get along and it contributed to Jim Irsay’s decision to fire Grigson. So with Chris Ballard now in charge, people have been talking about Ballard’s relationship with Pagano.

“It’s been great,” Pagano told about the transition to Ballard as GM. “Excellent to this point. Constant communication. Chris is a great football man. He’s got a good football mind. We share a vision, share a goal, along with the entire organization, but he’s done a great job of connecting not only with myself and the rest of the coaches but the scouts and the entire organization. And it’s been a daunting task for him to say the least. I could remember my first few days on the job, my first month on the job, how overwhelming that can be. There’s not a manual waiting for you; I was looking for a manual back in 2012, the head coaching manual, and what do you do on day two, what do you do on day three, and I’m sure Chris was doing the same thing. But we’re off to a great start. A lot of good stuff going on, and obviously excited about this opportunity now.”

One of the aspects of a strong relationship between the GM, scouting staff, and coaching staff is the scouts and GM taking into account what the coaches want in a player. Ballard mentioned that he’s been meeting with Rob Chudzinski and Ted Monachino in addition to Pagano to find out what the coaches are looking for, and that’s a very healthy thing.

“It’s huge,” Pagano emphasized. “And I think the biggest thing is just trying to get a feel for what Ted and the rest of the defensive staff are looking for in a player, trying to get a feel for Chud and the offensive staff. He’s spent time with Tommy McMahon and Mo Drayton as far as specialists go. You have to be on the same page, but we’ve all got to come together and have an idea, ‘ok, this is how we see’ or ‘this is what we need in a certain position or a certain player, what the measurables are, height, weight, and speed.’ ‘What is the job description [for] offensive line, defensive line, pass rusher, cornerback,’ all those types of things. And then going forward after the Combine we’ll spend a ton of time together watching tape. Because having a conversation is one thing, but you’ve got to sit down and you’ve got to watch tape and you’ve got to watch it together and you’ve got to get a feel for each other on really what you’re looking at, because the film, as Chris said a thousand times, the film doesn’t lie. And so trying to paint a picture is one thing on paper and talking about a guy, but seeing it on tape is another.”

Of course, odds are Pagano and Ballard would say good things about their relationship no matter how good of a start they were off to working together, as Pagano and Grigson always downplayed the disagreement and tension between them. But it’s still good to hear Pagano talk about how things are going well between the two, because that will be very important this offseason as they try to turn things around for the Colts.

At the same time, however, even though Pagano says his relationship with Ballard is “great,” he didn’t want to talk bad about Grigson. “I have all the respect in the world for Ryan,” he said in his press conference last week. “Ryan and I shared a ton of great moments and a ton of great wins. He’s a good man and obviously I wish him and his family nothing but the best moving forward. I am grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be the head football coach and have another opportunity to get this organization and get our franchise back to where it needs to be.”

Now Grigson is gone, though, and it’s up to Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano to lead the Colts in 2017. They’re hard at work at the NFL Combine trying to improve the Colts and apparently are getting along really well - though we wouldn’t hear them say anything otherwise even if that weren’t the case.