The Colts have three winning seasons and two playoff appearances during Chris Ballard‘s six seasons as the team’s general manager. Even in the midst of a 4-12-1 campaign that featured the firing of head coach Frank Reich, Colts owner Jim Irsay continued to endorse his top decision maker. However, fast forward a few months, and Irsay is now hinting that the Colts will have to perform better on the field if Ballard hopes to keep his job.
“Everyone has to be successful to keep their job, if you’re a general manager or head coach,” Irsay said (via Zak Keefer of The Athletic). “I really feel that he’s not on some quick, hot seat. But the expectations are there.”
As Keefer notes, Irsay has always been fond of his GM, admiring the executive’s drafting prowess and roster-building ability. The owner has also been willing to take part of the blame for the team’s recent inconsistencies, but Ballard was given full control of the recent head coaching search and will be fully responsible for making the Colts’ selection at No. 4 later this month.
In other words, if Ballard fails, it will be on him, and any struggles in 2023 could ultimately lead to the GM’s firing. As Keefer writes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Colts have to be a playoff contender; rather, Irsay will be looking for “hope, optimism, [or] tangible proof that Ballard can fix the mess he’s made.”
Normally, a GM with Ballard’s resume probably would have been fired a few years ago, but Irsay also indicated that the organization is still reeling from Andrew Luck‘s sudden retirement decision in 2019.
“I’m not gonna make excuses for (Chris) or anyone else, (but) you know, the Andrew Luck card’s never been seen by a general manager before,” Irsay said. “I mean, that’s a tough one, guys. I’d like to see how other teams would respond when you have a 29-year-old who was supposed to be there for the next 10 years and win two Lombardis just walks away, two weeks before the season starts. I mean, that’s a hard one, you know?”
More front office notes from around the NFL…
- After spending more than a decade in the Broncos front office, John Elway is stepping away. After serving as an outside consultant to GM George Paton in 2022, Elway and the Broncos have decided to part ways. “I’ve enjoyed the relationship with the Broncos for a long, long time,’’ Elway told Mike Klis of 9News in Denver. “I told Greg I’d be happy to be a resource for him and help in any way that I can. I just wanted the flexibility. They’re in great hands. I still plan on being around to watch and be a resource for Greg or George (Paton) if I can.’’ The Hall of Fame quarterback was the Broncos general manager for 10 years before transitioning to President of Football Operations in 2021.
- Raiders senior vice president and chief of staff Marcel Reece resigned last month, according to Tashan Reed and Vic Tafur of The Athletic. The former Pro Bowl running back joined the team’s front office in 2020, earning a promotion to his last role in 2022. As the writers note, Reece follows a number of long-time executives who have recently left the organization, a group that includes former team presidents Marc Badain and Dan Ventrelle.
- The Eagles will be heading into the draft with a new front office structure. They’ll no longer be relying on a vice president of player personnel like former execs Andy Weidl or Joe Douglas. Instead, Eagles GM Howie Roseman is going to be completely responsible for running the show. “The responsibility is mine,” Roseman said (via Zach Berman of The Athletic). “I don’t say that in any way other than that I take that very seriously and I think we have a process that has spanned different front offices. Hasn’t always been perfect, but we do have a process and a way of doing things. At the same time, if someone comes in and has an idea that can make that process better, let’s do that. Best idea has to win. … At the end of the day, it’s my job to outline a vision of what we’re looking for, whether it’s at the All-Star games, the combine, free-agent process, the draft process. I think the lines of communication have been great. There are a lot of really great, talented guys we have in our front office, and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
- Chris Spielman has spent three years in the Lions front office, officially serving as “special assistant to the owner and CEO.” Justin Rogers of The Detroit News has provided some insight into the former Pro Bowl linebacker’s role, with the executive having his hand in draft preparation, weekly opponent scouting, and helping to hire the team’s GM and head coach. “I’ve been given the freedom to define the role, but in order to do that, the one thing I had to get, because it’s a paranoid business by nature, I had to make sure I had everybody’s trust, that I have zero agenda other than winning,” Spielman told Rogers. “Zero. I tell everyone, ‘I’ve already done my thing, man. I have zero agenda. I don’t want another role. I’m not looking for another role.’ My goal is to help everybody succeed to their highest level. When that happens, I feel like I win.”