Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: How Can The Colts Change Their Recent Slow Starts?

Intro: This week, mailbag readers inquire about the recent slow starts, the play of the offense and the personnel along the defensive line.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday mailbag.

Here is this week's collection:Thomas Tescher (Pendleton, IN)

Why when the Colts have been starting so slow do we elect to receive when we win the toss at home? Beginning of the game 12th man is pumped and ready for the game. We start with a 3 and out and it diminishes. In contrast 2nd half we kick off and are on defense with about half of the fans back in their seats, the 12th man is cut to a 6th man. Since we historically have come out strong in the second half why don't we defer after the coin toss and receive the second half kick off. Sure some stats may be out there that say get the ball first. Certainly if you have a team that starts fast, we don't. Shouldn't we play to our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Seems like a no brainer, defer and kick off to our opponents at the beginning of the game.

Bowen: Thomas, I understand what you're saying and in the last two weeks we've seen Chuck Pagano choose to defer and then elect to receive after winning the toss. Neither time it sparked a first series touchdown though. The Colts defense has been playing very well out of the gate really all season long. The unit didn't allowed an opening quarter touchdown until the end of October and has allowed just two first-quarter touchdowns all season long. Now, offensively the unit has scored only one touchdown since the 24-point outburst back in early October against Houston. Through the first six weeks of the season, the Colts were outscoring opponents 58-6 in the first 15 minutes. Chuck Pagano isn't holding back in realizing that the slow starts need to be fixed, especially when it looks like the Colts are going to have take their act on the road come January.

Gregory Young (Burlington, Kentucky)

Hi Kevin! Wow! What a gritty performance by the Colts this past Sunday against the Texans. Gotta credit the DEFENSE for this one along with the tenacious offense as well. This win was certainly a TEAM victory. That's how you win in the NFL.

Now, we have a HUGE game coming up against the Cowboys in Dallas this Sunday. Kevin, I hope you can allow me to not only pose a couple of questions to you, but the rest of the Colts team. First, GUYS, (the team) can you put forth the absolute resolution to play at a higher standard against a formidable team such as yourselves and come out with the victory ?

Can you guys reach down for more? Do you want more? I know for a fact ALL Colts fans do! THIS IS the beginning of the Playoffs! GRIT, TENACITY, THE WILL! So, from all the fans, I hope you guys see this message.

NO EXCUSES! GO GET IT! PLAY LIKE CHAMPIONS!

Thanks, Kevin, for allowing me to post these questions to you and the rest of team! Love you guys, and get through the Playoffs with the attitude that exudes EXCELLENCE from each and every one of you!

COLTS FAN FOREVER! ;)

BELIEVER FOREVER! ;)

Bowen: Greg, you were spot on with your assessment of the Colts defense the last two weeks. While the offense hasn't played near to the level the unit was earlier this season, the defense has been stout. Over the last two weeks, the defense has allowed just 13 total points in 27 possessions. The Colts defense will face arguably its stiffest test of the season on Sunday with the balanced attack of the Dallas Cowboys.

Nate Abebe (Columbus, Ohio)

Hi, big colts fan here. This is Nate from Columbus. I think we need to use donte moncrief and a lot of young players like Dewey McDonald and victor butler a lot more. Y aren't we using them more and along with zurlon Tipton

Bowen: In the past few weeks, Moncrief has seen quite the uptick in his snap counts. He's clearly getting the third most reps at the receiver position as the Colts continue to try and "mine more gold" down the stretch. Dewey McDonald has been tremendous on special teams this year but there's just not much room at the safety position for him to see many defensive reps. Mike Adams continues to lead the league in takeaways and LaRon Landry has played very solid since returning from suspension. Victor Butler was waived by the team three weeks ago. Lastly, Tipton is another guy who has emerged on special teams, but I just don't see this team utilizing more than two running backs at this point.

Alex Cotterman (New Palestine, IN)

What is going on with the offense? The Browns and Texans have good defenses, but not great. There is no reason those defenses should shut down our offense.

Bowen: The offense has struggled in sustaining drives over the last two weeks, especially based off the league-leading numbers the unit put up early on in the year. Slow starts have really plagued the offense with turnovers being the Achilles heel. I think this is all part of the adaptation period of an NFL season. The Colts were putting up some historic numbers from an offensive standpoint through the first two-to-three months of the season. Now, Ahamd Bradshaw is no longer in the fold. Injuries have spread to other skill spots and new players have had to step into expanded roles. If the Colts can continue to get some production on the ground (around 4.8 yards per carry the last month), that should open up things in the passing game with defenses clearly focusing on taking that aspect away from the Indianapolis offense.

Trae Rick (Louisville, KY)

Hey Mr. Bowen,

I recently cam across an article that gave fans a better understanding of how a base 3-4 defense works and the pictures shown on the article showed a D line consosting of a NT and 2 DE's. Though we only have 1 DE, Cory Redding on the roster. How does that make sense? Do we substitute one of those DE's for a DT like Art Jones? Please help my get a more clear picture of this. Whats the difference in a DT and a DE in the Colts scheme mainly?

Bowen: Trae, don't read too much into specific positions listed especially along the defensive line. Position flexibility is constant along the defensive front. Zach Kerr is listed as a "nose tackle" but he played a ton for "defensive tackle" Arthur Jones when he was out earlier this year. Montori Hughes is listed as a "defensive tackle" but at 350 pounds, he's played a good amount of nose this season. No down sees more guys all over the defensive line than third down, when the Colts sometimes have nearly all 11 defenders stand up or only employ one or two true defensive linemen in the game. Basically in the Colts base set you see Josh Chapman at nose tackle, Cory Redding at defensive end and Ricky Jean Francois at defensive tackle with Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden flanking those three on the outside.

Rachel Loy (Jeffersonville, IN)

Kevin,

I've noticed the game ball winners haven't been featured in the last two post-game locker room video. Why the change?

Thanks!

Bowen: Rachel, I believe last week Reggie Wayne was focused on prominently in receiving the lone game ball. I know the video department likes to change it up based off who gets game balls and the message from Coach Pagano. They are certainly a hit on the website and offer some great raw emotion behind closed doors.

Zach Dile (Hartsville, TN)

hey. as a long time fan of the Indianapolis colts, I was born and raised in Indianapolis, I just want to know that with a great qb like luck and a decent running back in boom herron when will see another generation of great running backs from the colts. it seems like ever since we lost manning that we also sort of had abunch of trouble with our running backs. what do you think will be the key to getting our running game back up and running again?

Bowen: First, the Colts were very fortunate to have an Edgerrin James to complement Peyton Manning. Those types of tandems don't happen very often in the NFL and especially nowadays quarterbacks like Manning or Tom Brady. The Packers are really the lone exception of a top five quarterback with a top five running back. In the Chuck Pagano era, teams have always relied on multiple backs. This year, more than ever, we've seen the passing game take off and lead the league in several categories. The Colts are starting to run the ball better down the stretch. They have averaged nearly five yards per carry in the last month thanks to Herron's emergence. That is obviously going to be a key if this team wants to get on a run in January.

Trae Rick (Louisville, KY)

Hey Kevin!

This question isn't necessarily dealing with the colts players or staff, but it's about field access during a game. I've been with my girlfriend for about a year now and we are HUGE Indianapolis Colts fans. I haven't missed a Colts game on tv since 2006. We love the organization and it's been my dream to propose on Lucas Oil's turf. If that's possible, could you help me set it up. I wont propose any other way lol! #BTM

Bowen: Any such inquiries should be sent to our Webmaster. That e-mail can be found here and it will be forwarded along to our marketing/events department. Good luck with that!

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