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.
MANNY V. (from Fresno, CA) How would Coach Pep and Coach Pagano feel about adopting a three-back system similar to New England? We have a big power runner in Trent Richardson (he'll be set after a full off season), an agile but also strong back in Vick Ballard and of course a pass catcher in Donald Brown (if the Colts work out a new contract). That running game in New England can look just as good and versatile in Indy with the right pieces, which I believe we already have.
A: There's no question New England used the ground approach late this year to its advantage, and that is along the lines of what we want to do as well. When you look at the accomplishments this year with our personnel losses on offense, you do have to admire what was done. The rushing philosophy will not go away, and that comes from Chuck Pagano. Trent and Vick right now are the key components. We'll see how the club approaches Donald, while Ahmad still has some recuperation. We want that type of aggressive ground tone to the attack, and that only opens things up for Andrew. You're on the right track, and rushing success has been evident in how the playoffs have gone. Eight of 10 winners have been the team with the highest rushing total. Some people get caught up in that it would adversely affect our passing game, but it's just the opposite.
BOB B. (from Deltona, FL) Here's a suggestion to Ryan Grigson, re-hire Howard Mudd to be your offensive line coach. Look at the job he did when Peyton Manning was here, and get a competent defensive coordinator.**
A: My opinion, you can be a bit harsh some times, Bob, but I know you care, and it's fine to be who you are. Howard Mudd was a great coach here, but that was a different time. Right now, we are capably coached by Joe Gilbert and Hal Hunter. They are doing a very solid job and endured a year with multiple different starting alignments. Also, Greg Manusky is a very good coordinator, and there were a number of times the defensive staff made adjustments that paid off for us. You can't lose sight of that. You're showing your long-time dedication to the team by your remarks, and I get it. Those years have passed, and we have to move on. Be heartened that we've won 11 games two straight regular seasons and have made the playoffs twice, advancing in them once. Was that the goal? No. Was it an accomplishment? Absolutely, and we'll work to keep getting better. I like your regular contributions, so keep them up.
MARY H. (from Martinsville, IN) Would you be kind enough to provide us a complete list of the Colts' restricted and unrestricted free agents?
A: When free agency starts on March 11, 18 Colts are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents – Pat Angerer, Antoine Bethea, Ahmad Bradshaw, Deion Branch, Donald Brown, Sergio Brown, Kavell Conner, Vontae Davis, Aubrayo Franklin, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jeff Linkenbach, Ricardo Mathews, Pat McAfee, Mike McGlynn, Fili Moala, Lawrence Sidbury, Cassius Vaughn, Adam Vinatieri. Joe Reitz and Josh Gordy could be restricted free agents. As always, Mary, thanks for your tremendous support.
DAVE H. (from Sebring, FL) If we had just won one-to-two more games, the playoffs could have gone through Indianapolis. It just shows you we are almost there. We must keep as many of our players as possible and add D-line and O-line playmakers. Whoever John 242 is on the fan page, he must not be a true fan. How can you say fire Grigson and Pagano? This was a team totally dismantled from the (previous) era and nobody thought it could recover so quickly. After the players we lost, just look at (the next two seasons). Injuries killed this year's team from going farther. If you're a true Colts fan, you would know this.**
A: We were close last year, but that is all behind us now. There are two teams meeting in New York/New Jersey, and it was our goal to be one of them. We'll do everything possible to retain as many players as we can. A number of them, according to Ryan Grigson, showed marked improvement in their play in 2013. Each year brings about a 25-to-30 percent roster change, but we do have building blocks in place. We just need to be more consistent over 60 minutes and 16 games. We had moments of outstanding play. We had others that hurt and left you scratching your head. Those particular memories stick longer than the pleasant ones. Thanks for targeting areas you think we need to address. Some people agree, and those seem to be the ones who write frequently. You live and die with us, and we appreciate that. As for your response to John on the fan page, I hope he reads the mailbag so he sees you're taking up for the club. Ryan and Chuck have done a great job reconstructing the team. Keep up the good fight for us.
D.J. S. (from Waxahachie, TX) Is there any chance we can get some more receivers? Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton can't do it alone. I believe Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson can help us out. We need to upgrade the offense line. It's not our RBs fault, it's our offense line. GO COLTS.
A: Reggie really feels he will be back and back strongly. I've never known him not to live up to his word. T.Y. has arrived as a star, and he was pretty gutty in how he played this year physically. He really battled a shoulder injury, but that that did not affect his level of play. We have a number of other receivers who are budding and could be a part of the future, but I just don't see the future for us holding either Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson. They've both had achievements (I think Owens winds up in Canton) I wouldn't denigrate for anything, but I just don't see that we would devote time or resources in those areas. I could be wrong, and I know why you are proposing it. I just think we'll take a different direction. It's been a while since we've heard from you.
MICHAEL K. (from Austria) What is the biggest part of the training until preseason for the Colts? I'd say pass-defending and defending the QB are areas for the most concentration. Good luck (from) a Colts fan from Austria!**
A: Always great to hear from a different precinct, so thanks for weighing in. A lot of people like you think we need some help in the trenches, particularly in the interior positions. Others point to what they thought was spotty play in the secondary. Those are two key areas that dictate a portion of a team's success. We want success from every area, but those two in particular draw a lot of comment outside the team. If Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano agree, I know they will do everything to address it. I know our mindset is to create competition roster-wide to get the best 53 players possible. It's a bit early to know our direction. It will come into sharper focus in the next five-to-six weeks. Until then, we'll have plenty of input from fans, and I hope that includes you.
AUSTIN S. (from Greenwood, IN) Which is more important for the Colts to focus on, the defense or offense when looking at free agents and draft picks?
A: I'll defer my opinion and follow our leader, Ryan Grigson. I know we were not as consistent as we wanted to be last year, despite getting 11 wins. I know we were banged up tremendously and had a number of guys respond well. How the receiver situation shakes out will be interesting. How we approach the backs, given our taste for running, will be a hot topic. I hope Dwayne Allen returns as a beast. That would be a huge boon for us. Help on the defensive line could come from within, and there are other components in free agency that we will have to address. I don't believe the defense was salty enough for Chuck Pagano's tastes. We could be in pretty good shape just from mending, but Ryan and Chuck Pagano know what they want to do. They will pursue it vigorously once they've done the necessary review in the next two-to-three weeks.
LEVI F. (from Grand Ridge, FL) What is the possibility of Ryan Grigson drafting Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State? He's a beast. It seems like if you throw him the ball and it's within five feet of him he catches it. I understand we have receivers, but Reggie Wayne won't be around forever. Thanks for the awesome mailbag and let's win the Super Bowl.
A: I can see why you like him with the size Benjamin has and how some receivers in this league have done well with those same dimensions. He played pretty well in a big-time program, and that is an indicator, too. Those are things that will sort themselves out during the spring. Remember, we right now do not have a first-round pick. The one we had (26th) goes to Cleveland for Trent Richardson, and that is about the first-round area where some analysts have Benjamin going. We're still doing all our homework from the concluded seasons (college, NFL). I'm sure Benjamin is on the radar screens of about 32 teams. Should we have anything specific on him, I'll pass it along. We normally don't chatter much, though (it's good business), so it may be a one-way conversation during the spring for people like you that write in asking about a particular player. Love your interest, though. I know you want Reggie to be Reggie again, and we love our fans in Florida.