Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard has had his ups and downs with the team since he took over in 2017.
He clearly wants to build the trenches, but the Colts have had just two-winning seasons in his tenure as they tried to patch the loss of Andrew Luck with what felt like a never-ending string of retread quarterbacks.
The Colts finally got off of that merry-go-round this year when they spent the No. 4 overall pick in April's NFL Draft on Anthony Richardson.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently rated the general managers in the NFL and dropped them into tiers. Ballard came in Tier 2, described as "Clear Vision, Mostly Sound Process, Sometimes Focused on 'Windows.'"
"The Colts' roster in recent years has resembled a Whac-A-Mole board, where one glaring deficiency has been able to tank what is otherwise a team with talented trench units," wrote Brad Spielberger on PFF.
"For 2023, the secondary is devoid of building-block talent outside of second-round rookie Julius Brents, but the offensive line is seemingly back playing to its talent level after atrophying in 2022. With a lot of positives on display from rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who we won’t see again until 2024 due to injury, there’s reason to believe maybe Ballard can build a true contender for the first time since the end of the Andrew Luck era.
"Ballard’s best move in a while appears to be the hiring of head coach Shane Steichen, and there should be optimism going forward. Ballard may need to supplement this roster with more free-agent talent than he’s been willing to target in the past, but that’s how you take advantage of the rookie contract window — in moderation, of course."
Ballard and the Colts should also get credit for being able to hold onto their most-prized free agents. That skill will come into play again as star wide receiver Michael Pittman's contract expires this offseason.
Many Colts fans expected Ballard to be ousted after seeing regression from the 11-5 record in 2020 to the circus of the 2022 season. However Ballard appears to have hit on his latest-coaching hire and his franchise quarterback.
Going two-for-two on coach and quarterback can right a lot of wrongs for a general manager.