INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – His world was rocked eight days ago. To the core.
No longer did Chris Ballard possess one of the NFL’s better top-to-bottom rosters that featured one of the better quarterback tandems with Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett.
Luck announced his retirement after the Aug. 24 preseason game with the Chicago Bears, leaving the Indianapolis Colts’ offense – and the hopes of a stunned fan base – in the hands of Brissett.
Life went on. The NFL moved on.
“It doesn’t matter,’’ Ballard said Sunday evening. “The train just keeps on moving. Either you find a way to fix the problem and roll with it, or it’ll swallow you up.
“We’re going to choose to move forward. You want to stay healthy and you want everything to go smooth and everything go perfect, but that’s not reality. You’ve got to expect that problems are going to happen and you deal with them as they come along.’’
The one that’s currently staring Ballard and Frank Reich in the face: finding a suitable backup for Brissett.
“Working though it; yeah, working through it,’’ Ballard said. “We want to get the right guy for us. We know there are some possibilities out there, but we’re working through it and we’ll have him in the building here soon.’’
Last week, the Colts worked out veterans Brock Osweiler, Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden. Brian Hoyer was due in town Sunday evening, according to IndyStar.
Hoyer, 33, has appeared in 65 games with 37 starts for six teams. He spent 2018 with the New England Patriots, but was among the cuts when rosters were reduced to 53 Saturday.
Hoyer would seem to check off most of the boxes in what the Colts are looking for. Among his career stats are a 59.3 completion rate, 48 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
The obvious sticking point would be his price tag. Ballard has been steadfast in assigning a value to a player and not wavering from it. This might be one of those rare occasions when flexibility is required.
When the Colts convened for Sunday’s practice in preparation for the Sept. 8 opener against the Chargers in Los Angeles, Brissett and Phillip Walker, who was waived and signed to the practice squad, were the only quarterbacks on the field.
Chad Kelly, who had an outstanding preseason, is on the reserve/suspended list for the first two games.
A prevailing question: Are the Colts looking for a two-game stop-gap until Kelly is eligible to return, or will they bring in a veteran to handle the backup duties all season?
“I think it just depends,’’ Ballard said. “We felt very fortunate in the situation we were in with Andrew and Jacoby. As y’all have probably landscaped the league, (with) Jacoby, not everybody has a guy like him.
“We want to make sure we make the right decision both in the short term and the long term. We’re working through both scenarios.’’
Consider the weirdness of the Colts getting their next backup – Hoyer – from the Patriots. It was a September 2017 trade with New England that delivered Brissett to the roster.
“Having a competent backup is critical,’’ Ballard said. “That’s why Jacoby is where he’s at.’’
Along with discussing the Colts’ options at bolstering the quarterback position, Ballard and Reich touched on several other topics. Including:
- The leak to ESPN on Luck’s retirement: “It bothers me,’’ Ballard said. “Not going to sit here and tell you it doesn’t because it does. Tracking that down is very difficult.’’
- On whether Brissett not having to be a hero now that he’s replaced Luck: “I know this about Jacoby: He will not flinch,’’ Ballard said. “He didn’t when we brought him in here in ’17. Jacoby won’t flinch.’’
- The plans for Chad Kelly once his suspension ends: “We’ll work through that,’’ Ballard said. “We like him, I’ll say that.’’
- The immediate impressions of the 53-player roster: “I was sitting in Chris’ office last night doing exactly that,’’ Reich said of assessing the roster. “Now that it’s (set) let’s just say I had a big smile on my face. I just said, ‘This looks pretty good. I mean this looks pretty good right now. I feel really good about the guys on that board. These are our guys.’’’
- Reich meeting with Brissett: “We did have a power-plus conversation about his role, about our team, about the situation he’s stepping into,’’ Reich said. “It was very conversational. It wasn’t a rah-rah thing. It was more centered around, ‘Be yourself. You don’t have to be a hero.’ I had probably a list of about 12 bullet points I went through. To be honest with you, I know Jacoby knows everything I said.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.