Vancouver Sun

Colts GM says ri­valry with Pats ‘back on’

- MICHAEL MAROT The As­so­ci­ated Press Sports · College Sports · American Football · Chicago Cubs · New England Patriots · England · Twitter · Tennessee · Indianapolis Colts · Indianapolis · Philadelphia Eagles · Philadelphia · Frank Reich · Andrew Luck · Tony Dungy · Josh McDaniels · T.Y. Hilton · Matt Eberflus · Dave DeGuglielmo

Colts gen­eral man­ager Chis Bal­lard showed up for a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day — just not the one he ex­pected.

In­stead of in­tro­duc­ing Josh McDaniels as the team’s new head coach, Bal­lard stood in front of re­porters try­ing to ex­plain why New Eng­land’s of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor re­neged on a deal.

But if Bal­lard’s dis­gust about los­ing his top choice wasn’t clear from the oc­ca­sional glare or the strong pitch in his voice, he left no doubt with one part­ing shot.

“The ri­valry is back on,” he said be­fore leav­ing.

Con­duct­ing a coach­ing search in Fe­bru­ary isn’t what Bal­lard or Indy en­vi­sioned when Chuck Pagano was fired hours af­ter the Colts com­pleted a 4-12 sea­son on Dec. 31.

Ex­actly 24 hours af­ter an­nounc­ing McDaniels’ hir­ing on the team’s Twit­ter ac­count and roughly 16 hours af­ter he called back to tell Bal­lard he was out, the search be­gins anew for the jilted Colts.

Their other fi­nal­ist, Mike Vra­bel, has al­ready taken the Ten­nessee job. Another top-tier can­di­date, Mike Nagy, has al­ready been hired in Chicago. Bay­lor coach Matt Rhule, who also in­ter­viewed for the job, is back on cam­pus get­ting ready for spring foot­ball.

“We have a list of can­di­dates, I’ve had them from the get-go,” Bal­lard said. “There are other guys we wanted to in­ter­view, but be­cause of the play­offs, we weren’t able to.

“We’ll move for­ward with them and we will get the right leader for the In­di­anapo­lis Colts — one that be­lieves what we be­lieve and wants to go where we want to go. I’m very con­fi­dent in this.”

Bal­lard didn’t name names, nor did he pro­vide a timetable.

The tim­ing could present Indy with a unique op­por­tu­nity to pick off a coach who might emerge as a top can­di­date on next year’s coach­ing carousel.

Sev­eral pos­si­bil­i­ties ex­ist, in­clud­ing Philadel­phia Ea­gles of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Frank Re­ich, who was part of a Su­per Bowl vic­tory over the Pa­tri­ots with a backup quar­ter­back.

The good news for Indy is the only coach­ing va­cancy still looks pretty at­trac­tive — if An­drew Luck is healthy.

Indy still has Pro Bowl re­ceiver T.Y. Hil­ton, Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, a re­vamped de­fence that showed ma­jor im­prove­ment, the No. 3 pick in the draft and about US$80 mil­lion to spend in free agency.

Luck con­tin­ues to be the big ques­tion as he re­habs from last Jan­uary’s surgery for a partly torn labrum in his throw­ing shoul­der.

Some be­lieve McDaniels’ sud­den change of heart was re­lated to doubts about Luck’s health. Bal­lard at­tempted to al­le­vi­ate lin­ger­ing con­cerns about Luck while ac­knowl­edg­ing the fran­chise quar­ter­back still hasn’t thrown a foot­ball since late last year.

“At this point, we feel very strongly that An­drew is in a good place. He doesn’t need surgery,” Bal­lard said.

McDaniels’ de­ci­sion didn’t just leave the Colts in the lurch.

Three as­sis­tant coaches — Matt Eber­flus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielm­o — had al­ready been hired in Indy. While Bal­lard said he likes all three and will hon­our their con­tracts by keep­ing them on the next coach’s staff, oth­ers strongly crit­i­cized McDaniels from walk­ing away from them.

“It’s one thing to go back on your word to an or­ga­ni­za­tion,” for­mer Colts coach Tony Dungy wrote on Twit­ter. “But hav­ing as­sis­tant coaches leave jobs to go with you then leave them out to dry is in­de­fen­si­ble.”

 ??  ?? Chris Bal­lard
Chris Bal­lard

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada