clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week 1 NFL conspiracy report: Chris Ballard is planning to have a bad defense

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you were looking for in depth film breakdown, or one of my opponent scouting reports, or even a Colts-centric article you’ve arrived at the wrong place. Welcome to the weekly conspiracy report where I, Chris Shepherd, will examine nefarious plots around the league and expose them for what they are.

Now sure, I won’t be able to provide you any “proof” and no I don’t have any sources (that you know of). What follows should be treated purely as entertainment that include plausible (and not so plausible) scenarios that no one employed by NFL teams would ever admit to, I accept no responsibility for anything you do with the information I’m about to give you. In fact I accept no responsibility for anything you’re about to read, at all.

In this inaugural expose of NFL conspiratorial glory we’re going to take a look at Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard and his plan to destroy the 2018 Colts defense.

Theory: Chris Ballard has intentionally destroyed the 2018 Indianapolis Colts defense.

There are some important questions that need to be answered so we might get to the bottom of the mystery that has been the building of this defense and I intend to answer them.

  • The Colts added almost no one in their defensive backfield despite having the cap space and plethora of picks, why?

Did Chris Ballard really believe he could trust Quincy Wilson, Malik Hooker and a ragtag group of DB’s and make something special? Of course not, no one could believe that. He didn’t add anyone in the draft despite having 11 picks and even if you look at the Colts DB’s and you like them more than you would like to be a Browns fan, you have to admit there is very little depth.

If any one of the starters is injured it’s going to create a huge issue for the defense and with so many resources available, not adding talent seems inexplicable.

  • Having cut John Simon and Jonathan Hankins the defensive line is younger but it sure looks worse, why cut two of your best defensive linemen?

We’ve heard that both guys were a bad scheme fit and in Hankins’ case he was a bad fit due to the money he was owed, which is amazing considering the Colts will play nearly $50 million under the cap this season. So why cut two guys who have played well? Is it to give young guys more playing time? That could be, but you don’t cut a good player so you can give a worse player his spot, not unless you’re planning on being bad.

To go one step further, we know the defensive backfield is suspect. So, to help them out it’s common knowledge you should have a good pass rush. If the Colts aren’t planning on having a bad defense why did they cut Hankins who could push the pocket inside and Simon who was an effective, active, second-effort kind of pass rusher? Why not have all hands on deck if you aren’t planning on giving up a lot of points?

  • The linebackers were the weakest position group of the 2017 Colts, yet the only real draft capital was spent on Darius Leonard, why?

Okay, so the Colts didn’t add any real help in the defensive backfield, they cut a couple of the best players from their defensive line, surely that means they must have focused on adding talent to their linebacking corps, right?


The Colts went out and drafted Darius Leonard, I assume because they knew they couldn’t actually start Antonio Morrison again without starting a riot. After Leonard, there was nothing more than two seventh round draft picks and undrafted free agents. It’s almost like Chris Ballard didn’t want the defense to be good, but why?

  • Why would Chris Ballard want the defense to be bad?

Simple, this guy:

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

And also this guy:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

No not Reggie Wayne.

Chris Ballard had a lot of problems going into 2018 but his biggest problem probably doesn’t seem like a problem to most people, but considering the objective given to him by Jim Irsay, a healthy Andrew Luck presents a real problem.

See, you don’t want Luck to get hurt again, you need him for the future, but you can’t add all of the defensive pieces you need in a single offseason. So what’s a guy to do? Well you protect your quarterback better than he’s ever been protected and you throw your defense in the garbage, but why?

Jim Irsay said the following:

“You guys know me,” he offered last spring, “I’d rather win two Lombardis and endure several losing seasons than have one Lombardi and be in the playoffs every single year. It’s about greatness. It’s about world championships.”

So Chris Ballard had three major problems:

The first, Jim Irsay wants to win multiple championships and he’s willing to lose (to get better draft picks one would assume) to get there.

The second, he just fired one losing coach, the only way he can retain his new hire is if he loses early, you can’t have a coach go 8-8 and then 4-12 in his first two seasons without moving on from him, not for a franchise with only 4 losing seasons in 20 years.

The third, Andrew Luck if healthy, with even a below average supporting cast and defense gets you to 10 wins, 11 if Bruce Arians is on your coaching staff.

So how does Chris Ballard ensure he can accomplish his boss’ objective of multiple Lombardy trophies via a few losing seasons, while not firing his newly hired coach and trying to account for Luck’s greatness? Simply put, he had to build a historically bad defense.

Fitting The Pieces Together

One man is going to take the heat for the defense that takes the field for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday but Chis Ballard didn’t have much of a choice. An Andrew Luck led offense might score 30 points per game this year and Ballard needed a defense that would give up 32.

So Colts fans, when the defense goes out and plays worse than any defense in the 35 year history of the Indianapolis Colts, we should all place blame where it belongs, on the shoulders of a single player, too good to have his team lose without extraordinary measures:

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

*Once again, please note this article is purely meant for entertainment and the conversation it can create. Chris Shepherd may or may not actually believe anything above. By looking at current events through alternative viewpoints we hope to come away with a better understanding of what we’re seeing by considering something we’ve never considered. Worst case? We have a lot of fun with conspiracy theories and turn on old episodes of the X-Files while wearing our tin-foil hats.