According to Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on ‘The Colin Cowherd Podcast’, while he has great respect for the Tennessee Titans’ top leadership, he still wants to whip his AFC South rival’s ‘butts’ every time:
“Well, I have great respect for Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel, and the job they’ve done,” Ballard said. “We’re very similar thinkers in the way we do (things), and we have a great relationship.”
“Now, I want to whip their a#$ every time we play them, but I have great respect for how they build their team, and they’ve done a tremendous, tremendous job. And look, it is a rivalry, but it’s a rivalry out of respect.”
Unfortunately, the Colts haven’t had nearly as much success against the Titans since Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement after 2018, who was a pristine 11-0 against them—having gone 2-4 against them without a division crown thereafter.
The Titans, as the 2x reigning AFC South Champions, are built much like the Colts as a physical, well-rounded squad—featuring a no-nonsense running game (with Derrick Henry instead of Jonathan Taylor) and an attacking pass rush defensively.
That being said, the fortunes in the AFC South could be shifting some in the short-term, as the Titans just traded star wide receiver (and notorious Colts killer) A.J. Brown away to the Philadelphia Eagles over stalled contract negotiations, while the Colts landed veteran starting quarterback Matt Ryan—who should provide much needed consistency and leadership, among other big time additions including Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore.
Unlike last season, the Colts can’t afford being swept by Tennessee if they want to re-claim AFC South supremacy again. That means taking care of business within the division, and especially against the Titans head-to-head.
The Colts and Titans want to kick each other’s a$$—and that’s okay between the football field lines (and rather quite expected), but there still remains a lot of mutual respect between the two heated rivals’ top brass, when it’s all said and done.