Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts announced that they signed head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard to contract extensions through the 2026 season.
It’s not the first time that the Colts have had a head coach and general manager “tied at the hip,” but it does feel different this time around.
Colts owner Jim Irsay has complete faith that the team is on the right track, long term, behind the leadership of Reich and Ballard.
In Chris Ballard and Frank Reich, we have as great a general manager – head coach combination as there is in the NFL, and I can’t tell you how proud I am to have them leading our franchise. I truly believe this football team is on the doorstep of great things, and that’s because of the culture both have cultivated in their time with the Horseshoe. Whether we are marching toward the playoffs or facing adversity, whether we are building our roster or making a difference in the community, we have the ideal leaders in Chris and Frank.
Ballard was hired as the Colts’ GM in 2017 after his predecessor Ryan Grigson was let go.
In his four seasons calling the shots in the team’s front office, Ballard has become one of the most well-respected executives in league circles as well as in the eyes of agents and people who conduct business with the team. He was named the 2020 Jack Horrigan Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA), which is given to the league or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job. Ballard was also nominated for the award in 2018 and 2019.
He has built an outstanding scouting department that has nailed several selections throughout the NFL Draft, including the 2018 draft class, which was named the league’s best according to Inside the League. Ballard was also named the NFL Executive of the Year by the PFWA that year.
The NFL is a results business, and under Ballard’s leadership, the Colts have made the playoffs twice (2018 [10-6] and 2020 [11-5]).
He has also focused on setting up the Colts’ roster for long-term success rather than hinging on the availability of one position (quarterback). As a result, Colts players have earned 12 Pro Bowl selections and 10 All-Pro nods.
Ballard believes the Colts need to acquire, develop and extend their own players in order to truly build success. Some of the team’s biggest stars who have been acquired during Ballard’s tenure have been extended or re-signed, such as All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, right tackle Braden Smith, cornerbacks Kenny Moore II and Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Grover Stewart, running back Marlon Mack, tight end Jack Doyle, and right guard Mark Glowinski.
Reich was hired as the Colts’ head coach in 2018, famously getting the job after expected head coach Josh McDaniels backed out of the offer.
The Colts appear to have lucked out on the hire, as Reich made an immediate impact in 2018 and was named the AFC Coach of the Year by the NFL 101 Awards.
In three years, Reich has led the Colts to the playoffs twice (2018 and 2020) and has a record of 28-20 (.583). His win percentage is tied for fourth in the NFL among head coaches who were hired since 2018.
Like Ballard, Reich would rather surround himself with smart people than take credit. It’s led to many coaches from his staff getting hired off to other teams while others remain targets of interest moving forward.
The Colts were one of only four teams to complete the 2020 season ranked top-10 in both overall defense (eighth, 332.1 YPG) and offense (10th, 378.1 YPG). Other teams liked what they saw, as offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni was hired to become the Philadelphia Eagles’ new head coach, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus drew head coaching interest from other teams.
Reich has been known to get the most out of his quarterbacks, as Andrew Luck came back from a career-threatening shoulder injury in 2017 to have arguably his best season in 2018. Reich also helped turn Philip Rivers around with a solid season in 2020 when many thought the veteran was washed up after a down 2019 campaign.
Not coincidentally, both seasons resulted in playoff appearances.
When he has a suitable quarterback, Reich wins. And that is the hope in 2021 with his former protégé Carson Wentz now with the Colts.
How do you feel about Reich and Ballard getting contract extensions? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!