INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of Colts.com may submit questions during the week and have a chance to have them answered during the middle of each week. Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
BOB M. (from Milwaukee, WI) This is ancient history, but I've been a Colt fan for a long time. My favorite Unitas story: When asked to give a locker room pep talk to the guys, Unitas responded by saying, "Talk's cheap. Let's go play." Doesn't that sound like something Andrew Luck would say? I just get that vibe from him.
A: I don't get the feeling that Andrew would be a long-winded guy in terms of firing up teammates, if he even needed to. I think he is pretty direct. Andrew's upbringing was not as hard-scrabble as that of Unitas, but I think they have more than a few of the same leadership characteristics. They both command the offense. They're both tough physically and cut-throat competitively. Both would dish out a hit if a tackle needed to be made. Andrew was the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Trophy, and honor also won by Peyton Manning. For a franchise to have a lineage that this one does is remarkable.
MICHAEL C. (from Hartford City, IN) I have been a Colts fan for a long time. Although I love the offense, I am a defense guy. How strong do you consider our defense now and when we get (Brandon) McKinney back? Always remember a great defense wins championships. GO COLTS. CHUCKSTRONG.
A: I think you are seeing the defense still taking shape as the season plays out. There have been good strides, and players really are taking to the coaching. Coach Pagano is a big-time technician, and the coaches all are good teachers. Brandon's injury was a hit. His return will be good next year. Getting a firm push in the middle really helps. We saw how that defense won in Baltimore, and there is no reason that presence won't be seen here. You saw some grit in Detroit when the defense kept the Lions out of the end zone twice down deep. Two stops that netted only field goals kept the game manageable. Players call it, "defending every blade of grass." It is a mindset that is showing and will continue to do so.
JASON B. (from Wabash, IN) I think if the Colts make the playoffs, Bruce Arians should be not only considered, but win, Coach of the Year uncontested. With the Colts' losses from Peyton to Pagano, nothing was expected of them this year. Bruce has them playing good football. Can an interim coach win it?
A: There is no doubt Bruce as done a terrific job in subbing for Coach Pagano. There also is no doubt he stresses this is Coach Pagano's team. That said, it is my understanding that Bruce would be eligible to win. It is his personal feeling, though, that it is way too early to think of any accolades. He shares the notion that Coach Pagano does that winning games will bring enough credit for everyone. The message here is to keep playing one game at a time and add things up at the end. That is the only way to succeed in this league, and that is what fans want the most from the team. I'm glad you are following so closely, and you are one of many people deeply appreciative of the job Bruce (and the coaches) has done this year.
ERIC V. (from Bloomington, IN) What is your opinion on the impact that all the rookies, not just Andrew Luck, have had on the team?
A: In a word, dramatic. Some teams win in spite of rookies. This team has accomplished what it has because of them playing key roles across the board. I could give you the roll call of names, but you see them doing it all over the field. What really worked was the early approach of the staff in the spring telling guys they had to contribute from the get-go. Players bought in, and we are reaping dividends. Virtually top-to-bottom, the rookie class has provided great contributions. We have chronicled Andrew's achievements, and they will stack up against any ever by a rookie QB. Vick Ballard has been solid and had an important red zone scoring run at Detroit, a big boost the offense needed. Dwayne Allen's production in the run and pass game is good. Coby Fleener has been limited a bit, but had his first score last Sunday. He is a big target and an important component in helping the run game. T.Y. Hilton now has set the club rookie mark with four 100-yard games, and his pop in the return game is evident. LaVon Brazill is growing, and both he and Hilton should be key contributors as the season finishes. Josh Chapman will be a great addition next year. All Colts fans can be proud of this draft class. The organization feels that way. Ryan Grigson and his staff hit the ball well out of the park.
DENNIS S. (from Boston, MA) Why is Freeney still a Colt? He has zero sacks in the last four games and he averages one tackle a game.
A: Dwight still is a very, very disruptive force. It just has not been evident in the statistics. Not having his bookend (Robert Mathis) as often as we have wished has been a factor, but Dwight still is a presence offenses must account for. Visible numbers have not been as much an indicator of his value than they have been in past seasons, but those who study on tape can see it. Those who study the game and review tape know his impact out there.
AUSTIN A. (from Indianapolis) I know it's looking forward, but which side of the ball would the Colts be most likely to draft in 2013, offensive line and receivers or the defense?
A: Austin, it's way too early to tell, even though this is a year-round topic – and rightly so. Let's see how our season plays out and go from there. Chatter on next year's prospects is more appropriate outside an organization, so have at it. We'll keep trying to win on our end.
BRIAN D. (from Paulding, OH) After analyzing the season so far, what improvements can this team look forward to next year?
A: It can look forward to a hopeful healthy return of Coach Pagano. It will be the second year of a new regime and there will be natural growth because of it. Players will mature in the system. What Colts fans can reflect on is how the team continued to take shape from 1998-2010 as players flourished in the system. This is a different era now and players will grow. I suspect you are asking about possible additions at certain positions, and that will have to wait until next year.
Until then, it is better to speak only in generalities. Next year will take care of itself.
HENRY T. (from Maryland) What do you feel the beast (Andrew) Luck? He is the future of football and I am Redskins fan. You picked right.
A: His performances have been beastly at times. Andrew does have a voracious appetite for competition. Hopefully, he keeps devouring defenses. As far as you being a Redskins fan, you have a solid pick, too, and NFL fans are the winners when players of their caliber join the league. Let's hope Andrew and RGIII are long-running shows.