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Colts GM: QB tops lengthy offseason priority list

Media members talk with Chris Ballard, general manager, Jim Irsay, owner, and new interim head coach Jeff Saturday, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, during a press conference at the Colts headquarters in Indianapolis.
Credit: Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Colts general manager Chris Ballard plans to interview multiple candidates for head coach in Indianapolis, including interim Jeff Saturday.

But his most important offseason objective was clear in his end-of-season press conference Tuesday: The Colts are ready to go all-in to find a quarterback.

Ballard was direct and self-deprecating Tuesday summarizing where the Colts stand after ending the season with seven consecutive losses and a 4-12-1 record. The Colts begin another January without a long-term answer under center, among other pressing concerns.

“I failed,” Ballard said, assessing where the team went wrong in 2022.

Frank Reich was fired as head coach Nov. 7 as the Colts installed Saturday directly from a job talking football in the ESPN NFL studio. Saturday played for the Colts during his career, including snapping to Peyton Manning for most of his career.

Reich had a 40-33-1 record in four-plus seasons and was 3-5-1 in 2022.

“We live in a world (in the NFL) where failure’s not allowed. When you fail in this world you get canceled and everybody wants your head,” Ballard said Tuesday. “And rightfully so in some cases. But if you’re able to go through it and learn from it, you can reach your greatest heights.”

Saturday won his first game, 25-20 at Las Vegas, but lost the next seven in a row.

He will be among the candidates the Colts will interview starting this week, Ballard confirmed. He also admitted owner Jim Irsay, who hand-picked Saturday as the interim coach, will have a heavy hand in any final decision at the position.

After finding a head coach, Ballard said he has to do “whatever it takes” to resolve the constant carousel at quarterback that has consumed the franchise since Andrew Luck retired in August 2019.

“You have to start at quarterback. When you’re changing quarterbacks every year, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s tough on the team.”

After trying stopgap options Jacoby Brissett (2019) and near-retirement Philip Rivers (2020), trades for Carson Wentz (2021) and Matt Ryan (2022) proved fruitless.

Ballard worked with Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles in the Kansas City Chiefs scouting department. He said Tuesday he won’t hesitate to make a move if the Colts, who pick fourth in the first round, feel the need to move up in the 2023 draft.

“We understand the magnitude of where we’re at in the draft,” Ballard said. “And we understand the importance of the position. To get one that you can win with and be right is the most important thing.”

–Field Level Media