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Colts Mailbag: Going Deep, Darius Leonard For DROY, Physical Receivers

In this week’s Colts Mailbag, readers inquire about the offense’s lack of deep throws, the ceiling for rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, being physical at the wide receiver position and more.


INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.

Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here.

Let's jump right into this week's questions:


» Tuhreek G. (Central Islip, N.Y.): "Did Quincy Wilson lose his job to Desir?"

Walker: Short answer: no. And this is kind of a moot point going into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, because Quincy Wilson has already been ruled out with a concussion. But all throughout the offseason workout program, training camp and the preseason, we generally saw a rotation at the cornerback position that included Wilson, Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston and Kenny Moore II. It appears Moore II is the team's primary nickel cornerback, so he'll mostly play inside, but the rotations really haven't stopped once the regular season started. Wilson got the start Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Desir got the start Week 2 against the Washington Redskins. Once Wilson is healthy again, it'll probably just continue to be matchup-based who plays at the outside cornerback positions. So, no, Wilson didn't "lose his job," because nobody really had the job to begin with.


» Mason B. (Taylorville, Ill.): "I know that Reich's offense is predicated on short throws to keep Andrew safe, but his Y/A is terrible this season. Will we see more downfield throws?"

Walker: I have no doubt in my mind we will start to see more throws down the field from this Colts offense. Yes, part of the idea of Frank Reich's offense is to gee the ball out of Andrew Luck's hands quicker, which, first, gives the weapons more time to do their thing, and second, helps with protection. But Reich has also always compared his offensive attack to that of a boxer: you get your little jabs in here and there, and then you go all-out with the uppercut when the time is right. We saw Luck unload a little bit against the Redskins on a deep pass attempt down the middle of the field towards T.Y. Hilton in the second quarter of last week's game; Washington was flagged for pass interference, and the ball was placed at the Redskins' 27-yard line. But whether it's Hilton, Chester Rogers, Eric Ebron, Nyheim Hines or someone else, I believe it's only a matter of time before Luck connects on one of these plays, and then this narrative that the Colts are a dink-and-dunk offense can finally go away.


» Arnav P. (Bennington, Neb.): "What are your thoughts on Darius Leonard so far? Pro Bowl? All-Rookie Team?"

Walker: Try this one on for size: how about NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year? I think I get the luxury of saying that now because it's only been two weeks, but Darius Leonard's impact on this defense is clearly evident. If a rookie ends up leading the NFL in tackles (Leonard is currently the league leader with 28), then I think Pro Bowl and All-Rookie Team are shoe-ins. But then you throw in everything else Leonard can do, whether he's in coverage, chasing after the quarterback, knocking the ball out, etc., then that's what elevates him over pretty much any other defensive rookie at this juncture. I'm not trying to throw too much on the kid's plate, but if he's able to stay healthy, it's hard not envisioning him averaging 10 to 12 tackles, and then making at least one to two major impact plays a week. So with AFC Defensive Player of the Week and NFL Rookie of the Week accolades already in hand, could Leonard be looking at some more hardware down the road in his first NFL season?


» Kevin D. (Arlington, Texas): "Hey there guys! I was wondering do you think we will end up adding a bigger and physical reciever I think that's what we are lacking in our offense game right now.."

Walker: Hey there, Kevin! Thanks for writing. I get the feeling that, as of now, the Colts like what they have at the wide receiver position. And do me a favor and take a look at last week's Redskins game, first quarter, 10 seconds left, when Indy was facing a 3rd and 12 from its own 3-yard line. Luck found Hilton on the screen, but watch how nasty Ryan Grant and Zach Pascal are as they open up a lane for their fellow receiver, who not only converts the 3rd and 12, but gets 22 yards in all and gets the Colts out of the shadow of their own goal post. I know what you're thinking: you want a bigger receiver that can go up and make contested catches. But the Colts are already excelling in the red zone so far, so you can overcome any perceived deficiencies there, and don't forget about looping a guy like Ebron into the category of "bigger and physical receiver." The Colts seem OK for now, and then next year, perhaps Deon Cain, the sixth-round pick out of Clemson who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the preseason, can provide some of that come next year.


» Roy E. (Gas City, Ind.): "When are we gonna see a 5 DL front with Leonard as the only LB and 5 DBs? This defense has me excited for the future! Go Colts!!!"

Walker: Roy, I like the question. First off, though, I have to ask: why does Gas City's water tower along Interstate 69 utilize Comic Sans font? Talk about amateur hour! Anyway, I'm not so sure I ever saw the Colts really go with a five-man front during training camp, but they certainly seemed to use their dime package with tons of DBs pretty regularly last week against the Redskins. Indy would sub out a linebacker and bring in Matthias Farley to pair with Malik Hooker as the deep safeties, while Clayton Geathers would move up into the box as the dime linebacker. This happened about 25 times against Washington, and I think it really helped add speed to the field without giving up much in the way of tackling ability. So, again, I don't know if or when the Colts would utilize a five-man defensive front, but they are trying to get creative in other ways to have the best matchups possible.


» Dameon T. (Mullins, S.C.): "Why dont we sign dez bryant"

Walker: Dameon, go ahead and check two answers above, and then read this from Colts general manager Chris Ballard about Dez Bryant, specifically. I think that should help answer your question — which is asked a lot, actually.


» John K. (South Haven, Mich.): "What will Robert Turbins role be when he comes back?"

Walker: This is a very interesting question; some may have forgotten that Turbin is eligible to return from suspension once the Colts' Week 4 game against the Houston Texans is in the books. I don't know exactly what Turbin's role will be when Week 5 rolls around, but I can say with some confidence that he will be part of the Colts' offensive gameplan moving forward. I think because we're yet to see a fully-healthy Marlon Mack, however, it's just tough to say what any back's role is at this current time. Jordan Wilkins, Turbin and Christine Michael appear to be more traditional, between-the-tackle backs, while Mack and Nyheim Hines are quicker, shiftier players who have the ability to break things to the outside. All of them, though, will be counted on in the pass game, as both receivers and as protectors, so whenever the stable is full again, it'll be interesting to see how Reich divvies up the playing time.

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