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Chris Ballard needs to look outside the binder, into the gray for franchise solutions

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Robert Scheer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Depending on where you get your daily sports fix, what time of day you listen to sports talk radio, and what articles you find yourself reading, you most likely either “really love” or “really hate” the way the Colts are built and the man responsible for building it.

Seems to be par for the course in Indy lately. Whether it’s the Andrew Luck retirement, Jacoby Brissett experiment, drafting a generational guard 6th overall, Philip Rivers, Frank Reich’s play-calling, Matt Eberflus’ prevent defense or Chris Ballard’s charm, you likely either 100% loved it or 100% hated it. Not much in between.

When did sports require us to take an all-or-nothing stance on everything? Why can’t we love Andrew and hate the decision? Why can’t we appreciate Jacoby and admit he was not a franchise-altering solution at the most important position in all of sports? How about admitting that Q is one of the best 6th overall picks in the past 10 years, but we also need a left tackle?

Can’t we agree that Frank Reich’s play-calling is both flawless AND boneheaded at times? Admitting that even McVay, Shanahan, and Reid make mistakes every game? How about the fact the Eberflus’ defense both worked and fell flat, often throughout his 4 years in Indy?

It’s no surprise the man responsible for making these decisions, the man that brought these pieces to the Colts, also falls into this all-or-nothing mentality with fans. Chris Ballard doesn’t do himself any favors with fans when he himself uses an all-or-nothing approach in his press conferences. The man could be a speech professor. He’s easy to listen to and passionate. But why call a potential move of Q56 to left tackle “stupid”. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It's genius if it works. If it doesn’t work, can’t he just move back to left guard?

And don’t get fans started on the WR position, a room that consists of just one WR capable of 400+ yards (that’s just 24 yards per game by the way) in the 2021 season. Is it really fair to evaluate Carson Wentz on a pass /fail scale with this WR room?

Wentz left Philadelphia after one of the most disastrous seasons a QB could have, yet proceeded to put up nearly identical numbers to his 2019 season despite 91 fewer attempts (2019-4039/27/7 - 2021 3563/27/7). A 2019 season where he became the first QB in Philadelphia Eagles history throw for 4,000 yards and set an NFL record along the way, doing so without a single WR eclipsing 500 yards receiving.

Can someone get this man some weapons? Feel like doing some research? Go check Josh Allen’s numbers before he got Stefon Diggs.

Flashback to February 7th, the day before Ballard and Reich pulled off the trade, and imagine you were told Carson Wentz would put up these numbers despite affectionately earning the nickname “2’Sprainz” after spraining both ankles and having severely limited mobility for multiple weeks. Then you are told All-Pro RB JT28 would also lead the league in rushing by more than 500 yards. Would you sign off on the trade?

It’s time to be honest and accepting of the true greatness within this team, while also admitting no one is perfect nor immune to mistakes. No more all or nothing. Enough black or white. Whether it’s simple day-to-day problem-solving at a ‘9-5’, parenting/raising a child, or building an elite franchise, there is no need to label everything pass/fail.

How about some self-scouting and making some tweaks to improve things? After all, there is no “perfect prospect” and yet teams draft 224+ players every year. Why? Because players can be coached. Schemes can be changed. And there will always be a place in the league for specialized greatness.

Is Chris Ballard capable of making these same changes, exhibiting the same level of growth he expects from his players and coaches?

100% YES (oh wait, we’re not supposed to be doing that anymore). If we are willing to start looking in the gray area a little more, I think we’ll find that the Colts aren’t that far off from a championship-caliber team. They have the players (more Pro Bowl players than any other team) and the coaching, now they just need to learn how to win, a skill that is often acquired through the help of adding “winning players” in free agency.

The only question left… will Ballard hold true to his press conference hubris, or will he show he’s the elite team builder so many around the NFL consider him to be? Is he willing to make adjustments to his team-building philosophy for the sake of winning? That is the overall goal here right?