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.
ERIC V. (from Bloomington, IN) Would it make sense to you to keep Deion Branch? He is a very good player and a former Super Bowl MVP, but I wonder if age is beginning to catch up with him
A: I am under the impression it was not a multi-year deal, but it will be an interesting call to make. We have a great deal of youth, plus Wayne and Hilton are established. Our guys aren't the types who really require a great deal of veteran leadership (which Deion could provide). The locker room does a good job of policing itself. That said, you don't take lightly what Deion has done in his career. He's local and is a classy guy. My uneducated hunch is we would go in a different direction, but that's my guess (and only since you asked that specifically). He would have to be willing to play for a price that fits our cap. That may or may not be an issue. Again, I think we have more pressing matters elsewhere on the roster.
DAVE H. (from Sebring, FL) Do you think the Colts might add Mike Singletary or Ken Norton Jr. to our defensive staff? Just look what these coaches have done for their teams' defenses. We could use guys that can give us an extra edge. **
A: I just don't see that anything needs to be done with our coaches, other than following our process. Players buy into our system, and the coaches are a big part of it. The league is full of talented people like Singletary and Norton, but sometimes fans seem to fall into the "grass is greener" mode. I wouldn't publicly back our coaches if I did not feel that way, and I think we have a really good staff. While I don't see need or merit to your suggestion, I do like engaged mailbag participants. I like your reference to "our" staff. Glad you feel that way. Keep up the support.
MICHAEL L. (from Columbus, IN) If San Diego lets Dwight Freeney go, could the Colts sign him? I believe we should draft a WR, DL SS and QB. I like our backup, but his age is old and Chandler Harnish didn't pan out. With $35 million, I think we should sign another DB who doesn't play 20 yards off his man.
A: I don't want to speculate on any player on another team until his status is clear in March. Additionally in Dwight's case, there may be some rehabilitation involved with his injury. Also remember, Robert Mathis played the spot where Dwight played in 2012, and he did a great job there. As for the draft positions you mention, I like where we are at receiver if we can see some growth from a couple of our young guys. Whether we would draft there, I don't think it's a front-burner thought. (I could be surprised, however.) We still have to determine the direction with some players who could be unrestricted free agents. As for Matt Hasselbeck, I really don't agree with your concerns. I think we are solid there with Matt, and I don't agree with your depiction of Chandler either. He's a good, young player and with two practice squad seasons in, I think you're jumping the gun on your pronouncement of him as a player. Of concerns we have as a team, I think the level is lower at QB than at almost any other position. We want a level of consistent play in the secondary as well. There were times last year we really performed well, while other times we didn't. It's all interrelated with other parts of the defense, but consistency is something we really are looking for in 2014.
ROBBIE H. (from Luton, England) Great work this year! What is the biggest goal this off-season?
A: We do have a few building blocks in place and want to keep adding onto those. We have some players coming off injuries, so we want their rehabilitations to continue to move along smoothly. There seem to be no issues on that matter. Just having players continue to develop in our culture is big. Getting Trent Richardson in that is a very big thing. We hope to have a draft class that pays dividends, along with the maturation from last year's class and some other younger players like Daniel Adongo and Josh McNary. We're not issue-free, but we are in a decent place. We'll continue to grow defensively, and, again, identifying players who fit our culture will be important. Ryan and Chuck have done a tremendous job of that over the last two years, and attendance in our off-season programs have seen some great participation levels. We want more of that. Thanks for the letter. I think it's your first time.
CLAYTON L. (from Melbourne, Australia) Early in the season I wrote about concerns I had with the durability of the secondary. Turns out the RBs got the injury bug this season. When will the multiple-front defense stand up to the run? I don't think the scheme has worked regardless of injuries. Can you see the defense moving to a 3-4 blitz scheme like the Steelers?**
A: I don't get the feeling we are quite where we want to be with our defense. Our top sack producer, Robert Mathis, accounted for 46.4 percent of our sacks (19.5-of-42). That ties the tenth-best individual percentage in the NFL in 30 seasons (click here for story on Mathis getting the Deacon Jones Award as the NFL's top sacker, plus how his production rates among top sack seasons since 1982). Getting more players into the act would not hurt. There were times we were more aggressive later in the year (or so it seemed to me) with blitzing from the secondary. I just kind of feel we will be looking to grow more as a unit. We definitely need to stop the run better. There were games when opposing QBs skewed the stats, but there were other times when rushers had better days against us than we wanted. While I wouldn't want to name a team we want to emulate, I think a stronger defensive presence is what we're seeking. I don't think we'll rest until we get there, and I know we have the coach to get it done.
P.J. C. (from Illinois) I was reading one of your articles about Marlin Jackson recently, what happened to him?
A: Marlin suffered a couple of knee injuries with us that were very unfortunate. He tried to make it with Philadelphia after that, but his career ended around 2010. Marlin is a terrific guy and is living in the Indianapolis area, where he runs a foundation. Marlin is a good example of someone who embraces life's positives and keeps a great spirit and ethic. He's no stranger at our games and always is welcome to visit. As we all know, life offers no promises. Marlin was a solid player who worked hard and was a loyal teammate – everything you want in a player. He still is that way beyond the field, and we're proud of him (click here for the Marlin Jackson feature story from the 2007 AFC Championship game).
STEVEN J. (from Chicago, IL) I know that Antoine Bethea is going to be a free agent this year. He's been a big part of the Colts defense with tackles and interceptions, let alone experience. Are the Colts going to let him walk or sign him?
A: I spent some time with Tony Dungy last week and we talked about Robert Mathis and the immediate impact he had when we drafted him in 2003. Just hearing Tony talk about Robert reminded me of how quickly Antoine made an impact with us in 2006. Both players did so in their very first practices, and they never let up. I don't know Antoine's future, but the respect and affinity I have for him has me hoping he's back. Ryan and Chuck will have some tough decisions to make, and what they look for in players is prevalent in Antoine. I don't have an answer beyond that. I hope things work out for a great pro and person.