INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.
With the abundance of questions in recent weeks, we will have two mailbags each week. This one comes via a weekend edition (here's the Wednesday version from this week).
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey Kevin! Thanks as always for all your hard work for us fans. I can tell that we've been feeling pretty down lately, so how about we highlight some bright spots on the season?
We all know that Jack Doyle has had a surprising breakout year. Besides him, who do you think are some of the other lesser-known players making the most of their time on the field? For me, I really like what I've seen from Edwin Jackson, Chester Rogers, and Mo Alie-Cox in their limited action this season, not to mention the emergence of Joe Haeg as a Joe Reitz-like versatile lineman and the rock-steady play of Ryan Kelly (who has transitioned his play from Alabama to the NFL without missing a beat).
Bowen: Stan, I think you covered many of the guys right there. Erik Swoope deserves a lot of credit from having never played football before 2014 to now showing that he can contribute in the NFL. I love watching Edwin Jackson play. He's just flying around, sideline-to-sideline, and his energy is contagious. I do think Joe Haeg is a future (and probably current) linchpin on this offensive line. Will Rogers ever get the reps to show if he has what it takes to be a consistent receiver in this league?
Thomas G. (Tucson, AZ)
Hey kevin how are you doing this week? My question is about Sheldon Richardson. His contract is up this off season he will be a most likely a free agent due to the playmakers on the jets line. Is there any chance the colts will pursue him this off season? I believe he and Henry Anderson will make a good front. Im Sure we'll make some cap room with releasing older players and trying to get younger on defense. I think Richardson can make an impact. Whats your thoughts?
Bowen: The Colts are expected to have some pretty good space with the salary cap this coming offseason. I can see where a Sheldon Richardson/Colts pairing would make sense. Richardson is going to merit some big money though. For me, I still think the bigger needs on defense rely at the linebacker and defensive back position groupings, especially linebacker and cornerback.
Nathan D. (Flagstaff, AZ)
Here's yet another draft perspective that I would like to get your thoughts on. Even though running backs are devalued today due to a much more passing oriented game, I think they still have a huge impact on the game. Take for instance the Vikings. AP has done so much for that offense and I believe there are some AP level running backs (Fournette) in the draft this year. Drafting Fournette will also open up the passing game and not get Luck sacked as much. As for a defense, what would you think is an easier fix to carry the team, the offense or the defense? Thoughts?
Bowen: You can get by in the NFL without a definite top-five running back. Just look at last year's Super Bowl. It's hard to get by without a defense that can routinely change the game. An easier fix for the Colts? That would be the offense, as that unit has many pieces in place. But the defense has to be the focal point of next year's draft. You need impact guys there. Period. (I still believe a running back should be looked at during the 2017 Draft).
Chris C. (Hampton, VA)
First off I would like to thank you for all your work on the mailbag, I really appreciate reading week in and week out. I have a two part question for you.
A. I have seen and read a lot of research on how Aaron Rodgers has one of the quickest releases of any QB to ever play the game, along with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady which sets a trend that having such a quick release sets a qb up to potentially be an elite qb. My question is where does Andrew Luck's release measure up against those greats that I mentioned above.
B. I know since Pagano and Grigson came to town they have been trying to change the perception of this team to a running first and physical defense however as we can tell from the first half of this season that just isn't working. When do you think the coaching staff might start to change their philosophies and let Andrew start to air it out in more of a Peyton-esqe way? With the short passing game becoming an extension of the running game. I know running game and defense wins championships but we have to get to the tournament first and at this rate we won't even make it to .500
Thanks again Kevin for all you do!!!
Bowen: A. Per Pro Football Focus, Andrew Luck ranks 27th in the NFL in "time to throw" this season. Now, Rodgers doesn't get it out particularly quick for an entire game. This is a guy who loves to scramble and make plays outside of the pocket. Luck and Rodgers are two quarterbacks who love looking for the big play and have the scrambling ability to do that. B. I don't think we are ever going to see this regime totally abolish the idea of relying on a running game. This season the run game has actually been decent. The Colts are averaging 4.2 yards per game, which ranks 14th in the NFL. Frank Gore is on pace for a 1,000-yard season. I hear what you're getting at with this question, but some semblance of a run game is a must, especially with an offensive line that cannot be expected to hold up for an extreme pass heavy offense.
George B. (Bluffton, IN)I am frustrated seeing our defensive players, usually the defensive backs, trying to stop the ball carrier by merely running into them rather than wrapping them up with their arms and actually tackling them. Is this just poor technique or are they taught to play that way?
Bowen: I would take a guess that the same fundamental tackling of wrapping up the ball carrier is taught throughout every defensive position group. Does a variety of angles/circumstances sometimes force defenders to alter how they tackle? Of course. But I guarantee you the defensive backs are taught to wrap up and not just "run into" the offensive player.
Al O. (Ocala, FL)
Thanks again for sharing your insight with us fans each week. We haven't started out the season very well, but there is still a chance we can get in this dance. Is there a reason why we don't get a little more creative on offense? For instance what about some end arounds, a flea flicker, screen passes. Also it was nice to see the kick Pat made a couple of weeks ago. What about a fake punt and a pass from Pat to an eligible receiver? Anything to add a little life and surprise. What do you think?
Bowen: I think all of these sorts of things are in the playbook. I know last week the Colts used Donte Moncrief on an end around. We've seen Pat McAfee and special teams tricks in general used by the Colts, with some success, too. It will be something to watch to see if the Colts feel that any innovation is needed this week going into a road game where the visitors are a touchdown underdog. It's games like these, where the surprises usually come out.
Juan T. (Edinburgh, IN)
Simple question, has Kelly given up a sack? Last time I read that he hasn't.
Bowen: Using Pro Football Focus, Kelly has not given up a sack in 568 snaps this season (the most for any NFL center). Centers don't really give up many sacks, compared to other spots on the line. Kelly has been sound with his pass blocking, especially with all the plays he's logged in 2016.
Jock M. (Williamsburg, VA)
Hey Kevin! Thanks for the mailbag.I hope this sunday's game vs.packers turns out better than last weeks! I have to vent about the play calling lately. It seems to me that we give up on the run game waaay too soon. Even if we are behind, does it not make sense to still run the ball some? That is one reason why the chiefs got so many sacks,they pinned thier ears back, and didn't worry about the run game. A quick-hitting run during that stretch could have gained good yardage(better than a sack,anyway).I've seen big runs happen under that circumstance. PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP ON RUN GAME!!Gore has been a beast! Hope he goes for 100 yards sunday.Thanks,Kevin.
Bowen: Frank Gore had just nine carries in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. That was four fewer carries than his previous low in 2016. I agree with you that Gore has to have more of a workload. Rob Chudzinski had this to say on Thursday when asked if Gore should receive more carries: "Absolutely. I think early in the game we had a number of run-pass checks where we weren't able to get it to him early in the game and then obviously in the second half it got to the point where we needed to try to throw it and not be able to get it to him the way you'd like to."
Willie B. (Indianapolis)
Based on our poor play and remaining opponents , our record will be no better than 6-10 / 7-9.This could be a blessing in disguise because it would give us 4 out of the first 100 or so picks in the 2017 NFL draft.This should allow us to address some needs ( LT , RB , OLB , ILB ). What are your thoughts Kevin ?
Bowen: If I'm listing my top four needs going into the 2017 Draft (and free agency will likely alter this list to some degree), I'm going with: outside linebacker, cornerback, inside linebacker and running back.
Simon B. (Greenville, SC)
Hello people..sorry but I just forgot to add this question to my most recent list that I submitted very recently...the question is this;' How come Pagano continues to 'sacrifice ' really skilled players to punt returns, such as TY Hilton and Chester Rogers ? I mean Rogers appears next inline as a breakout talent, and seeing as how we have already lost Boom Herron and Quan Bray, how come Chuck can't find a journeyman punt returner to do the job ?
Bowen: Chester Rogers will be this team's punt returner on Sunday. It's his job with Quan Bray (fractured ankle) now on injured reserve. Bray was taken for granted a bit. He was a reliable, productive player in the return game. Now, the Colts are searching for his replacement. It's Jordan Todman on kick returns. With Rogers back healthy, we won't see all the shuffling we saw last week at punt returner. Rogers will be back there. He's not going to receive a bunch of wide receiver reps with T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett healthy. So let Rogers try and make an impact as a return man, while being the No. 4 receiver.
Dustin K. (Fort Wayne, IN)
I heard we were trying nate irving out can u give us the update on that or if its even true and as always thanks and go colts.
Bowen: The Colts made no roster move this week involving Nate Irving. Each week, teams around the NFL tryout right around a handful of guys. I wouldn't read too much into who the Colts are trying out. It's a small, small percentage of guys that go from tryout, to then earning a 53-man roster spot. A lack of special teams impact seemed to be the biggest reason why the Colts did not want to keep Irving at the final roster cut. Now, the team is turning to Josh McNary/Edwin Jackson for those reps next do D'Qwell Jackson. Rookie Antonio Morrison has really seen his playing time decrease. Unless an injury occurs in that group or the play starts to seriously regress, I don't see Irving coming back.
Rob D. (Fremont, IN)
Sorry to be a couple weeks late on this one, but, I have been away for work and this is the first chance I have had to write. Does the league have rules on piped in noise? If they do, what is it? A couple weeks ago I went to the Tennessee game with several friends. It ended up that we did not get seats together and sat on opposite sides of the stadium. We all noticed that they were piping in a base drum noise every time they displayed their "get loud" message on their display boards. The drum beat would run from the time the message was run (while Colts were in huddle) right through the play. After the game, we ran into several other Colts fans in downtown Nashville. I asked them if they noticed it, and without exception, they all did.
Bowen: Rob I took a brief look at the NFL rulebook, but couldn't find anything specific related to piped in noise. I'm almost positive that artificial noise cannot be piped in that late in the play clock or through the snap, of course. Here's a look at the rulebook if you want to take a gander.