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. Submit your question here.
Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
ALEX V. (from Danville, VA) Why was the much-heralded Trent Richardson so ineffective when Donald Brown seemed to gain significant yardage at will? He has done so for the last several years. Does the Colts brass not appreciate what they have in him?
A: We appreciate everything Donald Brown accomplished last year, and Trent was one of the leading locker room voices praising Donald's (click here for highlights) achievements. It was a tremendous year for Donald, and we'll have to see how that plays into the plans for 2014. The plans we have for 2014 do include Trent, and he will be able to use the off-season in our program to develop. We've talked often about how that is a period of growth for players, and Trent did not go through that with us last year. We know the price paid for Trent. We know how he played in Cleveland as a rookie, and we need steady contributions from him if we are to keep progressing as an offense. We do have a great deal of young talent on hand. There are many parts beyond Trent (maybe one of those will be Donald), and all of them working together can give us an offense that is tough to defend.
STEVE G. (from Evansville, IN) How do the Colts handle the waiving of a player? Is it by registered mail, phone or in person?**
A: It is done face-to-face. There is no other proper way to handle it when you're dealing with something unpleasant like this. I don't know of a Colts head coach yet that hasn't visited with each player personally who is waived. While the coach does not deliver the message directly, he does have time to visit with a dedicated player who has spent a great deal of time, effort and emotion trying to make the team. In some cases, players can return to the practice squad. A waived player also could come back when other players get hurt. Believe me, this is one of the toughest days in any organization. It never is fun, but these matters are handled with human interaction. Anything less would not be professional.
ISRAEL R. (from Laredo, TX) Free agency is all about low price for a big production. Bringing in players like Sam Shields, Riley Cooper, Breno Giacomini, Eben Britton, Jonathan Goodwin, Linval Joseph, Dane Fletcher, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Stevie Brown and Jonathan Dwyer are names that are low price for high production. Especially Shields, who proved to be good and durable in Green Bay, where CB was a huge problem for the Colts. Any thoughts?
A: Not every free agency acquisition is at a low price, in fact, few of them are. Free agency can be used as a supplement, but the true long-term health of a team is ensured through the draft. We have had some great success stories through the years in free agency (I'm speaking beyond Ryan Grigson's tenure here), and some additions that brought levels of disappointment. I know we have some room to maneuver this year, but I don't get the sense that we will be quite as active as last year. Thanks for providing your shopping list (it's huge), but I'll refrain from getting into specifics until things are better defined here in the near future.
R.J. E. (from Marion, IN) Just finished reading last week's mailbag. Kudos for calmly cooperating with the couch coaches. I wanted to say thank you to the organization for not using the media to posture during contract negotiations. That gets old. I personally would be thrilled to see Mr. Grigson stand pat during the amateur hour spending spree at the start of free agency and hit gold during the draft. Hope to see the core players back next season, but losses are expected.
A: I love our "couch coaches." Without them there wouldn't be an NFL, plus it's fun to hear what's on people's minds. I don't see that we will be as active as last year, though I could be wrong. I think we have a number of things in place that we can supplement with selective shopping. I agree with your estimate and appreciate when you write in. We have some great fans in your area, and we hope we can keep our playing core intact for another solid run next season. As for negotiations, those are best done as quietly as possible.
BRYAN S. (from Lafayette, IN) What do you think about Henoc Muamba? I've seen his accolades, and I'm very excited to see if he blossoms like Jerrell Freeman has.
A: I have not met Henoc (6-0, 238) yet, but look forward to doing so. His story reads a little bit like Jerrell's and Daniel Adongo's, and he sounds like an accomplished athlete with his head on straight. He and his family moved from their native area in Africa to Canada, where Henoc started playing football around 10th grade. His career at St. Francis Xavier University (in Nova Scotia) led to his 2011 drafting by Winnipeg (click here for highlights), and Henoc was a CFL All-Star last year with 106 tackles. As has been his case, Ryan Grigson scours leagues beyond the NFL, and the Colts were the first team to contact Henoc. Henoc cites Jerrell as an example of CFL players who have helped pave the path to the NFL, and it appears he shares the same mindset and physical tools that have made Jerrell a success in Indianapolis. There are a number of stories like this on our team (also Josh McNary) where the personnel staff has added young players who are bright prospects. We'll keep readers updated on all of them once spring work begins.
BOB B. (from Deltona, FL) I read the Colts have the second-highest cap space (only Oakland is higher). If I were a FA, I would rather sign with a team that will always contend and be in the playoffs. Oakland doesn't fit that description. It should draw a lot of interest from good FAs. We do need a solid O-lineman or two, some run-stopping LBs, beef up the D-line and re-sign some key FAs. I think Josh Logan and Alex Mack would look great. If I were a Cleveland Brown, I'd want out ASAP. Do you think Ryan Grigson will look at either Richie Incognito or Johnathan Martin? Do you think they'll move Donald (Thomas) to RG and sign a FA to play LG? I think a priority is finding a WR who's got size and speed to complement Reggie, T.Y, Fleener and Allen.
A: If those figures are accurate (and I think they are), it's because we've done a really good job of keeping our house in order the last couple of years and striking where needed. I know we have been aggressive the last two years, but those actions were accompanied with thought. That will be our tactic again this year. I agree we do have an attractive situation for those looking from the outside, and that's something that has come from our leadership (Jim Irsay, Ryan Grigson, Chuck Pagano). Their culture has taken root and has been aided by good coaches and character players. We'll see how free agency unfolds. I wouldn't want to characterize any organization but our own, but we do feel good about how the Colts are viewed. I think our fans like you enjoy that, too. As far as Incognito, it's tough to say. You're not the first to ask. Martin is property of Miami, and we do not comment on players belonging to another team. I have heard no mention of moving Donald Thomas, and the plans for all units across the roster have not been addressed yet. I'm sure Ryan and Chuck will be asked some of these matters at the combine, so there could be news coming in the near future. If we do have designs for a receiver, there should be some prospects at the combine. I'm not sure we would go the free agency route at that position with Reggie and T.Y. here, plus with the number of young players we have who could emerge at a higher level this year. As I've said before, the return of Dwayne Allen will be one of the most interesting things to follow this year.
DAVE H. (from Sebring, FL) I do like Adam Vinatieri's idea of field goals (kicks from 50 yards being worth four points). (I think) at 60 yards, it would be five points and anything under 40 yards still three points. It would put a new spin on the game.
A: We've all heard the notion of perhaps eliminating extra points or altering the dimensions of the goalposts, and there's certainly no doubt kickers are stronger and more accurate than ever, but I am one who would not like to see anything done. While I'm not always resistant to changes, I don't see that doing this would be necessary. I think the structure of our game is solid. I think the changes you outline and that some kickers have mentioned would be more along "gimmick" nature. I don't think it would benefit the game. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see this getting momentum at the moment. Eliminating point after attempts and automatically awarding seven points could take away from kickers' stats. They would not like that, but I don't think they should be awarded another point for kicks of longer distances. As the game has changed from 12 (until 1960) to 14 (through 1977) to 16 games through the years, stats totals reflect it accordingly. If the league ever expanded beyond 16 games, those numbers will change again. Already, some say a 1,000-yard rushing or receiving season does not mean as much as it used to. A 4,000-yard passing season used to be significant (I bet a 3,000-yard year did at some point, too). It's a bit more commonplace now, and some now crack the 5,000-yard barrier. I hope we don't change the scoring structure. I don't see the benefit. Again, that's just me, and I'll spectate with the rest of you. Thanks for your two cents, and I'm sure others might chime in with theirs.
TED H. (from Alamogordo, NM) There has been talk of some very recent Ryan Grigson signings as being camp-filler. I'm sure Jerrell Freeman was not signed for that purpose, so I'm also sure that these additional signings are at least for quality depth. I think Grigson and his scouts are doing a great job finding talent, and I fully anticipate a Super Bowl appearance in the next two years. I am still really high on Ahmad Bradshaw and would really like to see him return. I think he and Donald Brown should be the first and second backs for us. WR is not a concern in my mind. With Reggie and T.Y. back, Griff and the others will also improve, not to mention the return of Dwayne Allen. With an OL improvement, we should be spectacular.
A: There always will be opinions (signees seen as camp-fillers) along these lines, but a number of players who have become quite recognizable to Colts fans joined us as free agents. We can go down a long line of them since 1998, and we do have current players like Jerrell who carry on that tradition. Let time be the judge and we'll see how players define themselves. Thanks for your thoughts on Ahmad and Donald. If they are the 1-2 punch this year, it means we will have a deep backfield. I won't argue their effectiveness, but I don't know how we'll proceed in their cases. As for the other offensive areas you mentioned, all of us are looking forward to that developing, too. We do have a great number of things in place to have a fun offense to watch. Spectacular? Maybe so. You have to like the prospects. A Super Bowl in the next two years? I'm all for it.