Monday, January 30, 2017

That new car smell

... or, you know, that New Guy smell.

Chris Ballard is the New Guy in Indianapolis, and he comes with some fragrant credentials. As director of football operations in Kansas City, he's helped mold the Chiefs into a solid franchise that has won at least nine games in each of the last four seasons, and -- more importantly -- his draft picks have panned out. Which is not what anyone could say for his predecessor, Ryan Somebody.

But as with a new vehicle, New Guy smell is fleeting. What's relevant here for the Colts is what will happen when he gets a few miles on him -- i.e., what happens not quite three months down the road in late April, when the NFL Draft happens.

The draft is the true measure of any NFL GM, the three days when he earns his paycheck (or fails to earn it). Ryan Somebody failed largely because he failed, at times spectacularly, on those three days. What happened on the other 362 days of the year was pretty much meaningless.

And so we will know whether the New Guy is going to be a wise purchase in late April, not now. By then, of course, we'll also know if he can get along with the holdover head coach, Chuck Pagano. Even if they hit it off, there is now the unavoidable sense that Pagano is a dead man walking. Every successful GM, after all, wants his own guy. And if Ballard sticks the landing on those three days in April, he'll have the capital to push for it if he chooses -- which will make that dead-man-walking feel about Pagano even more acute.

Anyway ... we shall see.  In the meantime, enjoy the new car smell.

It could mean you've just bought your dream ride. Or it could mean you're stuck with some sawdust-in-the-transmission beater.

Time will tell.

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