Want to know why the defense is faltering? Start with Ballard and go from there
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley certainly deserves his fair share of blame for this recent porous stretch, but it all starts and ends with the general manager.
This time, it’s Gus Bradley, the Colts’ defensive coordinator, who’s in the crosshairs. His league-worst defense has given up 37, 39 and 38 points in the last three games, all three to opponents with average or worse offenses (Jacksonville, Cleveland and New Orleans), and now he's being cross-examined during the normal Tuesday coordinator Zoom availability.
This is a game journalists play. It’s called “Who Do We Blame Now?” and we’ve had plenty of targets in recent weeks. It was Darrell Baker, Jr. It was the official in the Browns’ game. It was Tony Brown, Jr., who got cooked by the Saints. It was Chris Ballard for failing to bolster the secondary. It was Shane Steichen for forgetting that Jonathan Taylor was on the roster.
Today, it’s Bradley, the long-time defensive coordinator whose unit is underachieving on an epic level, having given up more points per game than any other defense in the league. (29.8 points per game).
You wonder, how can they be this bad with a roster that includes DeForest Buckner, Zaire Franklin, a recovering Shaquille Leonard, Kenny Moore and others, and yet, after a nice start when the defense was getting a pass rush and forcing turnovers, they’ve been a sieve through this 3-game losing streak?
Of course, they all share in the blame, but more and more, I question whether Ballard is the right man to rebuild this team so that it’s competitive once Anthony Richardson returns. I’ll acknowledge, these last three weeks, there have been a lot of short fields and quick-change situations, the Colts turning the ball over at an alarming rate. But 37, 39 and 38 points in three games – including 511 yards by the Saints -- are inexcusable, the first time the Colts have been so porous since 2001.
I find myself going back to the January, 2017, the day when Jim Irsay introduced Ballard and said this:
“…I can say with some expertise and wisdom that I really feel, to me, Chris is the best candidate for general manager that has come about so far in the 21st century. That’s how impressed we were with him. His energy, his experience, his vision.”
The Colts haven’t won the AFC South since Ballard took power.
You want to blame somebody for this defensive collapse? There’s your man.
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