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:Aydon Brown (Fort Wayne, IN)
will Andrew luck be ready to make it to super bowl 49??
Bowen: A pretty broad question to kick off this week's mailbag, but I see what you're getting at with this one, Aydon. Considering the stage, Luck was really impressive in the Wild Card round. He realizes the importance of protecting the football and showed on Sunday that he can still be extremely productive while settling for check downs to keep drives moving along. Any run by this team over the next few weeks is going to be spearheaded by Luck. Jim Irsay has said that and Luck's teammates know how critical the play of their quarterback is to January success. Sunday was the blueprint for what Luck is capable of this time of year. Now, he tries to take that act on the road against a talented defensive unit.
Gregory Young (Burlington, Kentucky)
Hi, Kevin! They say DEFENSE wins Championship games ...
You better believe it Colts fans! ;) An exceptional game played by the Colts defense this past Sunday! The offense is to be also credited with this TEAM win as well. (yes, even with the 4 field goals!) Couple of questions before we shuffle off to Denver this week ... Do you think it is possible to overcome the Broncos with 2 TDs and 4 FGs IN Denver? Do you think we can play GREAT defense and mediocre offense and win?
Some pretty tough questions if you ask me. ;) Kevin, if the Colts can create some havoc defensive plays against the Broncos and score 26 points ... Do we win? ;) I hope so! Turnovers should be the KEY pointing to this week's winner.
Bowen: The field goal/touchdown topic was something Dwayne Allen addressed immediately after Sunday's Wild Card victory. Outside of the Colts two touchdown drives on Sunday, another five series went into Bengals territory where just 12 points were produced. The Colts cannot have that happen on Sunday, where settling for field goals is not the recipe to beat a Peyton Manning-led offense. You threw out the 26-point number and that seems to be a pretty good base for the Colts. I could see this defense holding the Broncos to 20-24 points but at the same time, the first one to 30 should be feeling pretty good come Sunday.
Thomas Drexler (Jeffersonville, IN)
If the Colts want to win the super super bowl what position do they need to improve on ?
Bowen: Thomas, if I had to pinpoint two position groups that are going to be critical to any run past Sunday, I will go to the trenches. The line protected Andrew Luck well in the Wild Card round but a different task comes this weekend, with Denver having a Pro Bowl duo off the edge. If the offensive line continues to give Luck some time to operate this offense still has the amount of playmakers, led by No. 12, to put up 25-30 points. Flip over to the defense and a pass rush out of the front seven is necessary. The stat has been harped on time and time again but in the Colts five losses, they've produced just two sacks. The outside guys receive most of the criticism for this number, but some interior pressure has to come against a player of Peyton Manning's caliber.
josh olumba (Austell, GA)
Mr. Bowen the only way to beat Peyton is to generate a substantial amount of pressure in the pocket and force the turnover while the ball is in the air much like the Bengals did in week 16. how are the colts able to do that without blitzing one of if not the smartest QB in the game, because that's the only way we've gotten to the quarterback so far in the playoffs with the blitz?
Bowen: In 2014, the Colts have primarily reached the quarterback via blitz. At some point on Sunday though they are going to have to win one-on-one matchups to put pressure on a quarterback who rarely is under duress. While the outside linebackers (Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner and Jonathan Newsome) are the major threats, the ability to collapse the pocket is vital on Sunday. That means a combination of the edge guys and the interior guys keeping Manning from stepping up in the pocket. We saw the Colts get to Andy Dalton three times last week and if they can reach that number on Sunday, that would go a long way in slowing down Denver's offensive attack. Guys like Arthur Jones, Cory Redding and Ricky Jean Francois will be the ones to watch in trying to knock Manning off his spot from the interior of the Colts line.
Isak H. (Mexico City)
Does the management still trust Ulrick John? Like, Joe Reitz is the only real backup OT, so he's a true intrigue because no one has ever seen him play and we never knew how he was scouted/found since there are no records of him in sports sites.
Bowen: Ryan Grigson is definitely high on the physical development of Ulrick John. When the Colts took John in the seventh round in 2014, they knew some patience was going to be needed to let the Georgia State product physically mature into an NFL-size tackle. John has been on injured reserve since the preseason due to a broken leg but his body has really matured. Just seeing him walk around in the locker room, you notice a stark difference in his size since he was here for rookie minicamp in May. John is going to be an interesting guy to watch next spring/summer with some tackle depth needed.
Mary Werk (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
Why the air raider horn during the game?
Bowen: Mary, I believe the horn has been used the past couple of years and personally, I really enjoy the effect it has in getting the crowd riled up. It's typically played prior to kickoff and on some key third downs. Anything to get the home faithful on their feet is fine by me and it seems like fans respond quite well to the siren.
Steve Lindeman (Indianapolis)
I like it when I see other teams in the league bust out there throwback uniforms. I know the Colts have done it a few times. Any chance that the Colts use the throwbacks in 2015?
Bowen: Steve, I know there has been some talk of possibly having teams wear a throwback jersey for a game in 2015. I don't believe all the details have been ironed out with that but I know early discussions took place.
Anthony Michaelis (Avon, Indiana)
Could the implementation of a Read-Option not only help the run game: but save Young Luck a lot of unnecessary hits?
Bowen: Anthony, I'm not sure if designed runs for Luck would eliminate any extra hits. I tend to think that would increase the hits for the quarterback. The Colts have rarely (can't think of more than one or two times) run the read-option with Pep Hamilton. Luck's success utilizing his legs has come almost strictly off of scrambles. We saw a couple timely ones in the Wild Card win on Sunday. That weapon, while not necessarily scripted into the game plan, will come in handy again on Sunday.
Simon Boone (Greenville, NC)
I noted that the offensive line the Colts will field in the upcoming playoff game against Cincinnati will be the eleventh such combination this season. In spite of this the team has still managed to produce an 11 win season. In your opinion how far might this team go in the playoffs while dealing with this 'juggling act' on the offensive line ?
Bowen: This question was sent in prior to the Colts Wild Card matchup as we received quite a few offensive line inquires. When you take a look back at the Colts offensive numbers this year, it is quite impressive what the unit produced despite little continuity up front, mainly at center and on the right side. On Sunday, the line played probably the best we've seen it since the Colts bye week. Andrew Luck was sacked just once and he had significant time to help the Colts offense eclipse the 400-yard plateau. It looks like the Colts will have the same starting unit against Denver but the challenge up front rises across that line. Guys off the edge in DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller are Pro Bowlers and 335-pound Terrance Knighton clogs up space in the middle.