Colts GM on Josh McDaniels: We want someone 'all in'


In a league that waits for no team, the Colts have but one option: move forward.

Jilted in jaw-dropping fashion on Tuesday by Josh McDaniels, who withdrew from an agreement to become Indy's head coach to remain with the Patriots, the Colts find themselves searching for a replacement just weeks ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard met with reporters on Wednesday to pick up the pieces, acknowledging the team was "disappointed and surprised" by the McDaniels bait-and-switch.

"He said he had bad news for me," Ballard revealed. "I just said, I just needed a yes-or-no answer. 'Are you in or out?' We went around for a minute and he said he's out, and I said, 'OK. We're going to move forward and I wish you the best of luck.'"

Ballard emphasized the franchise would quickly recover in its search for a coach to replace the fired Chuck Pagano.

"You can bet we're going to get there. Unquestionably, we're going to get there. We have a list of candidates -- we've had them from the get go," Ballard said. "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."

Asked if he tried to change McDaniels' mind, Ballard shot that theory to the floor:

"There was no persuasion. Let me make this clear. I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach that wants to be all in," Ballard said. "We got work to do. I've not once hid that. We have work to do. And I want someone that's 100 percent committed to partnering with us and getting that work done."

Here's what else we learned from Ballard's unpacking of Tuesday's fallout:

1. Twitter will cling to Ballard's juicy declaration that "the rivalry is back on" with the Patriots, but the general manager exuded calm determination during his lengthy news conference, wishing McDaniels well and putting the coaching surprise in perspective after the passing of Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was killed Sunday after being hit by suspected drunken driver.

"Obstacles -- that's what makes this league great. Overcoming the hard times. That's what makes football great," Ballard said of watching McDaniels bolt. "That's what the great lesson of football is: That it doesn't always work out or go the way we mapped it out or planned it. It's the mentally tough, gritty people that overcome these things [who] are successful. That is what we're going to be built on."

2. The handful of assistants already hired by McDaniels -- stunningly, McDaniels was recruiting others as recently as Tuesday -- will remain with the Colts.

Talking about former Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, hired by McDaniels to become Indy's defensive coordinator, Ballard said: "I got to know Matt Eberflus a few years ago and was blown away by Matt. Matt was a coveted coach. He's a very talented defensive coordinator. I feel very lucky to have Matt Eberflus in the building running a scheme that fits our team."

Ballard also praised defensive line coach Mike Phair and offensive line aide Dave DeGuglielmo, saying: "They will be on the staff. We will not abandon them."

3. Ballard believes those assistants will mesh well with whomever the Colts hire as head coach, noting that he already discussed the situation with various candidates, saying: "All of them are on board with where we're going."

Ballard revealed no potential head-coaching names, but NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the team would request an interview with Eagles coordinator Frank Reich. The Colts also have requested to interview Saints assistant head coach/tight ends Dan Campbell, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Other candidates include Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub, Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

4. Amid whispers that Andrew Luck's shoulder might require another operation -- and could have potentially impacted McDaniels' decision -- Ballard said point blank of his quarterback: "He doesn't need surgery."

"Let's talk about Andrew because there's a lot of rumors," Ballard said, noting that McDaniels and Luck never spoke during the interview process. "Everybody is an expert on this right now. And all we can do is, number one, I'm going to listen to Andrew Luck, who I absolutely believe in and trust. I'm going to listen to the doctors that he's talking to and dealing with, and I'm going to listen the guy that is training him right now. And, at this point, we feel very strongly that Andrew's in a good place."

Asked if Luck's still-hazy status might have impacted McDaniels, Ballard talked around the topic, simply telling the room: "I'll say this, and I've said this since Day 1: It's never about one guy. It's never about one guy. It's about the team. That's what I believe, and I think Andrew would tell you the same thing."

5. The McDaniels flip-flop was especially embarrassing after the Colts blasted out his agreement with the team on Twitter.

"That's on me. That's not on our organization. That's on me," Ballard said. "I was very confident that a deal was in place and that we were going to move forward and be having a press conference today at 3:30 p.m."

6. More non-panic from Ballard on the timeframe of hiring a coach:

"We still have a great list of guys that we're going to go to," Ballard said, noting that he's kept a lengthy file of coaching evaluations by his side for years.

"We'll get moving quickly," Ballard said, before asking for a bit of perspective on the idea of needing to hire someone immediately.

"The media has a perception, the fans have a perception, Twitter definitely has a perception of when everything needs to get done," Ballard said. "To me it's about being right. You got to be right. I doesn't matter if you're the first out of the box, and everybody praises you, or you're the last one to make the hire. We want to be right."