There is the fascinating cross examination scene in the wonderful movie, "A Few Good Men," where Lt. Kaffey eventually asks Col. Jessup the question everyone wants to know, "Did you order the Code Red?"
After a brief exchange with the judge, Jessup replies, "You want answers?"
To which Kaffey counters, "I think I’m entitled…"
"…you want ANSWERS!?"
"I want THE TRUTH!"
And then famously from Jessup, "YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"
After what has turned into a nightmare season for the Colts, I have questions, oh so many questions, for Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard and this coaching staff. As Colts fans, I think we’re all entitled to answers. Not just any answers, but the TRUTH as to just what went wrong, and who ordered the Code Red(s) that doomed this season. I’m pretty sure we can all handle the truth, but I suspect those that actually made the decisions are squirming under the weight of the results. Here are 5 simple questions that I'd be very curious as to the honest answers to, which would shed some light into not only what went wrong, but this team may be going.
Question 1): Who really made the decision to trade Carson Wentz after just one season? Was it Irsay, and if it was, did that decision undercut Reich and Ballard? If it was Ballard, again, did that undercut Reich? Was it a joint decision between all three? Up until this offseason, Irsay had been, for the most part, hands-off trusting Ballard and Reich to build the roster and make personnel and coaching decisions. (I know many say Irsay made the original call to bring in Reich after McDaniels flaked, but I think it may have been more of a suggestion to Ballard, whom Irsay still trusted to make the final call on Reich.) If it was Irsay that pressed for the trade, I think it was a clear signal to Ballard, and especially Reich, that they were on borrowed time.
Question 2): Did Ballard decide on his own to not resign Fisher and Glowinski, or was he influenced by evaluations from the coaching staff (Reich, Brady, Strausser and Mauwe) that these guys were expendable and easily replaceable with Pryor and Pinter? To me, this is quite possibly the greatest failure that doomed this Colts team before the season even started. It speaks to the potential breakdown between the front office and the former coaching staff after the season started off so poorly. The lack of actual competition in the preseason for the LT and RG spots was damning and if it was Ballard's call, it clearly interfered with the coaching. If that was Reich and his staff's decision, then that flies in the face of Ballard's mantra of competition, competition, competition in TC.
Question 3): Who was behind the firing of Colts OC, Marcus Brady? Coach Reich took responsibility for this step, even though this was Reich’s offense, and he was the one making the play calls. This decision smacks of covering one’s own behind, and honestly, from what I know about Frank Reich, seemed out of character for him. I’m leaning towards Ballard on this one and it illustrates the fracture between the FO and Reich at this point. If it was pressure from Irsay, then again, that also shows just how much trust the owner lost with Ballard and Reich to start forcing changes in season.
Question 4): Who made the call to bench Ryan, elevate Ehlinger to the starter (over Foles on the depth chart) and then declare Ryan would be the backup for the rest of the season? Again, if it was only Irsay (as widely reported) this clearly undercut Reich and his coaching staff. Also, declaring Ryan as ‘permanently’ benched for the rest of the season not only tied Reich’s hands unnecessarily, but Ballard’s as well, as this clearly signaled the Colts were once again, going to be in the market for another QB next offseason and Ballard would have to either cut Ryan or find another team to take him and his remaining salary (with potential trading partners knowing the Colts were stuck in a bad position to have to deal Ryan.)
Question 5): Was Chris Ballard consulted, not just on the Frank Reich firing, but the Jeff Saturday hiring? If he either was not consulted, or his opinion ignored, then this to me is the clearest sign yet that Ballard is done as the Colts GM. Watch that press conference where Irsay introduced Saturday and it's clear (clear? Crystal!) that Ballard was awkwardly wanting no part of it. Also, as far as I know, ballard has not spoked publicly about the Reich firing/Saturday hiring since both happened. It also indicates that Jim Irsay, for better or for worse, has taken over the Colts primary decision making for now.
We will likely never know the real truths behind these decisions. Ultimately, this is not our franchise. We’re merely just the fans and it’s Jim Irsay who is responsible for the true answers to our questions about what went wrong. He gave Ballard and Reich 5 years to figure out how to build a championship contending team, even without Andrew Luck as the QB. It’s obvious, at least to me, that the collapse at the end of last season and the actions taken since are all indications that Jim lost trust in Reich, and now most likely, Ballard. The final Question: Where will the Colts go from here? Will Irsay continue to believe that this team is just on the cusp of greatness with its current roster (potentially handicapping a new FO and HC to not make drastic changes?) Or will he decide to tear it all down in the offseason and rebuild. We should be able to handle the truth, wherever it lies.