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).
Here is this weekend's collection:
Zac N. (Indiana)
Hi Kevin, with regards to our offense. How exactly can we get the offense in sync again? I feel like we should do more of a no huddle offense to keep the team in a rhythm and to keep the defense from from blitzing on every single play. Thanks!
Bowen: The problem right now with constantly going up-tempo is the penalties haven't allowed the offense to get into any early rhythm. Pep Hamilton and Andrew Luck both talked this week about the need to find some sort of offensive rhythm and, in the past, that's meant an up-tempo approach. If the Colts can stay ahead of the chains and away from those drive-killing penalties, that should allow for a more consistent tempo from the offense, and ultimately controlling possession and field position (something the Colts have struggled with recently).
David B. (Clearwater, FL)
Two very tough games to start the season,proud of the defense. Its copy cat NFL so may expect more of the same from Tenn this week. When we go 4 wide (very wide) that spreads the defense. Seems to me that that might be the only way Gore gets his dream of 6 or 7 in the box for now. Also that it would have given us a better chance at the Jets 3,4 or even 5 defensive backs. What do u think. Thanks.
Bowen: David, I think you are definitely onto something here. The big thing for that to happen is avoiding those early self-inflicted negatives that are forcing clear passing situations. The inability in constantly going four-wide is you will obviously not be able to contribute an extra blocker or two to the protection. Gore had a very strong first-half on Monday night (seven carries for 41 yards). If that type of production can continue, that would alleviate much of the pressure defenses are applying to Luck and the offense.
Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)
I anticipate that Luck will recover from this awful start, but the offensive line issues aren't just going to go away. Even if he improves, I foresee interceptions born of his itchy trigger finger when the pocket collapses (which can be a strength as well as a weaknes). Will his regular and huge turnover numbers lead to the team having more leverage during his contract negotiation?
Bowen: Stan, I think we are far, far away form seeing how Luck's early turnover issues are impacting his leverage in contract negotiations. Unless all of a sudden Luck can't overcome these early struggles and this continues all year, the next contact for No. 12 is still going to be in rarified air. This is a question that I don't see lingering and ultimately having an impact on Luck's upcoming contract negotiations.
Terry F. (Vincennes)
as you mentioned in your Wednesday's mail bag, Andrew Luck was the best in the NFL against a blitz last year. My question is, how many times did he throw a pass to Reggie Wayne during a blitz last year during the first nine games when Reggie was healthy?
Bowen: Terry, while I don't know those specific numbers, Wayne was definitely a security blanket for Andrew Luck when he was healthy. I don't think a healthy Wayne no longer being in Indy is the reason for the current struggles against the blitz. I look at the protection issues attributing more to the problems versus pressure right now.
Tyler O. (Hattiesburg, MS)
Would the colts think about starting Hugh Thorton or Joe Reitz against the Titans? It may be a boost for the o-line
Bowen: Tyler, we haven't heard any change ups on the offensive line this week. Lance Louis appeared on the injury report, but he's probable for Sunday's contest. When the Colts have made lineup changes in the past, those aren't typically announced until kickoff anyways.
Bryan F. (Zephyrhills, FL)
Remebering how much an under performing Reggie Wayne drug down the offense last season,and with an aging Andre Johnson looking far from stellar and not closing to meeting expectations. How long do the Colts wait to put the obviously better performing Moncrief into his spot? IMO Moncrief has the size, speed and physicality very similar to a young Andre Johnson. I think the Colts would benefit highly starting the Combo of Hilton and Moncrief in the 2 WR sets.
Bowen: Heading into Week Three, the Colts top three receivers have played almost the same amount of snaps. Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson have logged 107 snaps and T.Y. Hilton has played 106 (Hilton missed an entire quarter due to injury, too). I don't see the Colts limiting Moncrief's role at all going forward. They realize his potential and know that he's been the main playmaker through two weeks. I expect to see plenty of three wide receiver sets with Hilton, Moncrief and Johnson in future weeks. Getting Johnson more involved would obviously be something the Colts would like.
Josh M. (United States)
I saw that Vic Ballard cleared waivers, but the team reached an injury settlement with him. So he is not on the IR. What exactly does that mean? Is he cut completely from the team now?
From Georgetown Indiana.
Bowen: Correct, Vick Ballard is no longer on the Colts roster. The injury settlement takes Ballard off the team's injured reserve and he now enters the free agent market. Basically once Ballard is healthy, I would think a team might take a shot at him. If not, maybe Ballard will have to wait the season is over and prove himself next offseason when teams rosters' expand to 90 players.
Scott A. (Norfolk, VA)
why don't the colts put a fullback alongside frank gore in a passing situation. and on defense why not put 8 in the box.
Bowen: Scott, the Colts really don't have a fullback. Jack Doyle plays some in a pinch and we even saw starting nose tackle David Parry in a goal line situation on Monday night. I don't really see a need for a fullback and Gore in the backfield on passing downs. That would eliminate an extra pass catcher, which the Colts obviously have some talented guys in that department. As far as the defense putting eight in the box, I think the run defense has done a pretty nice job with their front so far in 2015. Putting eight in the box would put even more stress on an extremely banged up and inexperienced Colts secondary.
Zack B. (Indianapolis, IN)
Why aren't the tight ends more involved?
Bowen: Listen to Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck or Pep Hamilton this week and they definitely harped on how important it is to have the tight ends see more targets against Tennessee. Last week against the Jets marked the first time in their careers that both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener didn't see a ball thrown in their direction. Better protection would allow for the Colts not to feel the need to keep their tight ends in for protection, thus releasing them into the passing tree.
Chad M. (Muncie, IN)
Long drop backs, heavy blitzes, and no hot outlets force holding to happen in the trenches. They are related why cant we adjust to it? Why are we suprised? Manning & Brady has made a career out of burning blitzing defenses with quick short then long range passes. Secondly, I contibute most of our slow starts to an over amped Luck who seems to miss high in the first quarter but now seems like the highball hangover is lasting much longer. Your comments?
Bowen: The Colts have not had answers for blitzes in the first two games of the season. Last year, Andrew Luck was the best quarterback in the NFL versus pressure. That hasn't been the case in 2015. The pressure has obviously forced many struggles for the Colts offense. The penalties in the run game and pass protection have really decimated things for the Colts trying to move the ball with any consistency. How they counter that this week is going to be something to watch. I would expect a heavier dose of Frank Gore along with getting the tight ends more involved as steps to winning those early downs and not getting yourself into extreme passing situations. The Colts have been behind the chains on 10 different occasions through the first halves of the last two weeks. Facing those defenses, that's no recipe for success.