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Key takeaways/quotes from Colts’ GM Chris Ballard’s annual end-of-season press conference

What did we learn from Indianapolis Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard’s end-of-season press conference?

Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard held his annual end-of-year press conference. Amongst the many topics Ballard discussed: the end to the 2023 season, the direction of the team, specific players, head coach Shane Steichen’s presence, and plenty more.

Here are some key takeaways from Ballard’s press conference:

Ballard, on the end of the Colts’ 2023 season:

“Not the way we wanted it to end. Tough. Tough way to end but encouraged. I feel really good about where we’re going and very encouraged about where we’re going.

Ballard, on approaching the offseason following Indianapolis’ 9-8 season:

“I think we’ve got more flexibility right now than we’ve had in the last few years. A little bit of that is we’re not paying a quarterback big money anymore, and so we’re going to have some more flexibility. We’ll always be prudent, but we’ll be as aggressive as we need to be in free agency with players that we think can help us.”

Ballard, on the team’s next steps after having a fair amount of success in 2023:

“We should legitimately be competing for the division and playoffs. That’s our expectation. That’s really our expectation every year, but I think that is really possible here going forward.”

Ballard, on rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson:

“We’re encouraged about what we saw. Don’t stamp him yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and he’s got a lot of work to do. But it’s encouraging. He’s a good young man who has a lot to learn. He cares deeply about being the best player he can be, and he cares deeply about his teammates. He will work and he’s very gifted. This guy’s a legitimate passer, and I believe that. I think he’s going to continue to get better and improve the more he plays. Anthony can play from the pocket and throw the ball accurately.”

Ballard, on Richardson’s playing style and finding a balance between using his athleticism and his throwing ability:

“It’s a tough balance. Learning when to get out of bounds, when to get down versus when to go for it. Those are going to be things he’s just going to have to learn. I think he learned versus Houston, going in the end zone on the one touchdown run where he relaxed for just a hair, and then next thing you know he took a big shot crossing the goal line. So those are things he’s just having to learn. In college, he could probably get away with that. He can’t get away with that at this level. Guys are too big and fast. Until he crosses the goal line, they’re going to strike. It’s just a learning curve with him.”

Ballard, on head coach Shane Steichen’s presence in the building:

“Dialed in. Always dialed in. All ball...There’s never a lack of confidence or a seed of doubt in what he’s doing. And he sees the big picture. This is not an offensive coordinator who became a head coach who calls plays. He sees it all. He’s a tremendous problem-solver, and he’s extremely demanding, not only of players but also of staff, of all of us. He’s going to press cause’ he wants to win. It’ll be fun to watch his growth even more.”

Ballard, on wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.:

“Care deeply about him - we have an honest relationship, almost too honest. Guy’s competitive, he’s tough. He wants to win. We’re going to work to get him back.”

Ballard had much more to say, but these are just a few of the many key points from his press conference. One thing is for certain: For the first time in quite some time, the Colts have a solid sense of direction, and I don’t think that’s something you could’ve said just one season ago.