“Everyone knows when you’re going in the right direction, even if you’re 6-11, you can tell,” Irsay recently said from the league owners’ meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer. “That’s what we wanna see and feel.”
“Everyone has to be successful to keep their job, if you’re a general manager or head coach,” Irsay added. “I really feel that he’s not on some quick, hot seat. But the expectations are there.”
Even though expectations in the wins column should be tempered a bit with the Colts presumably starting a top rookie quarterback behind center in 2023, the Colts need to show improvement from roughly a full season and a quarter of playing largely lousy, uninspired football.
New Colts head coach Shane Steichen should bring some much needed energy, edge, a new voice, and some fresh perspective, but Ballard will have to nail the pick at starting quarterback at #4 overall.
Not only that, but he’ll have to show that he’s built a roster strong enough to support said rookie, and one that can rebound, again moving forward, not backward—which is the fear after last season, when several standout Colts players seemingly regressed or were injured.
While Ballard has hit big on several draft picks with the Colts, the overall results so far haven’t been there for Indianapolis. The Colts have 0 division titles and 1 playoff win during his 6 prior seasons as general manager for the franchise.
Even though Ballard’s preached patience, building through the draft, and being prudent in free agency, Irsay’s patience may eventually wear thin given the lack of meaningful success.
After all, at a certain point, results simply have to matter, and anything over five seasons is a lifetime in the NFL, let alone six and counting.
Yes, the Colts have been snakebitten after their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck shockingly retired in his prime, but several star quarterbacks have been acquired since #12 abruptly hung up the laces. The Colts have to be able to find a franchise quarterback successor soon because using his retirement as a reoccurring excuse cannot continue forever—and especially having already missed out on other opportunities to capitalize.
That being said, Ballard still has a chance to right the ship and turn things around quickly in Indy, in the midst of a critical offseason for the future direction of the franchise.