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:Winston C. (Jacksonville)
I'm coming to the Colts/Jags game this Sunday (it will be my first to see the boys in blue and white on the field) so with much elevating joy, I must say that I am very excited! However, with news that Matt Hasselbeck is injured, will he be sitting out this one and letting Charlie Whitehurst play?
Bowen: Winston, all signs point to Matt Hasselbeck getting his sixth start with the Colts. He's practiced all week and Chuck Pagano has said Hasselbeck will be under center on Sunday afternoon. If Sunday is Hasselbeck's final start in 2015 (Andrew Luck's return could come in the next two weeks according to Jim Irsay), he has gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected. He's currently 4-1 as a starter and has kept the Colts ship firmly afloat with the stretch run here.
Taggyrt M. (Keenesburg, CO)
When phillip dorsett returns will the colts put quan bray back on the practice squad and put Whalen back on punt/kick returns since he has had acwhile to get over his 2 weeks of disaster, and is griff our 3rd string quarterback? Thanks Kevin!
Bowen: I would be very surprised if the Colts took Quan Bray off return duties. Since Bray made his debut in early November, he has the third most return yards of any player in the NFL. Now, I do agree that Dorsett's return is once again going to create a logjam at the receiver position. December means roster spots are very, very valuable with guys having to go on injured reserve for injuries that are not too severe if they happened in September. Ideally, the Colts would keep the trio you mentioned because I do think all three of these guys fill a needed role. And yes, I think if disaster struck the Colts, the Griffer would be the team's emergency quarterback.
Richard W. (Tulsa)
Kevin, What is going on with Bjoern Werner? I see he is not injured, but not playing? Thanks, Coltstrong
Bowen: For the last three weeks, Werner has been a healthy inactive. I don't think this is too much of a surprise when you look at the depth at outside linebacker. This is a question we had during the offseason with all the bodies off the edge, where would the playing time come? Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole and Jonathan Newsome are obviously ahead of Werner right now and then the team wants Daniel Adongo on special teams. When you only dress 46 players on game day, five outside linebackers (pretty much four) is about the highest number you can have. So that is why Werner has been inactive as of late with the outside linebacker group healthy.
David P. (Indiana)
My question is about the Colts D defense: last year our defensive backs were so successful partly because of our defensive scheme,especially without Mathis in the lineup, we were more aggressive with our front seven. So why are we not as aggressive this season especially with blitz packages?
Bowen: David, a major reason is that front hasn't gotten to the quarterback anywhere near as close to what we saw in 2014. Last year, the Colts had 41 sacks. This year, they have just 19 with four games remaining. Chuck Pagano knows the Colts pass rush has to be more disruptive down the stretch and obviously felt they wouldn't have just 19 sacks at this point in the year. I thought the unit would see an uptick this season with Robert Mathis back and some interior guys having pass rushing ability. Whether it's blitzing or trying to get home with four or five guys, the Colts just haven't been consistently successfully with their pass rush this season.
Anthony C. (New York)
Sio Moore and Jonathan Newsome are young and talented linebackers. Why are they not used more often and given more reps? Also when Trent Cole first signed with the Colts he mentioned his ability to play DE. With the absence of Henry Anderson do you think using Cole in his place more often would help us rush the passer?
Bowen: Last week, we saw Moore log his most playing time in a defensive setting with the Colts. That could continue again on Sunday with the injuries to Jerrell Freeman and Nate Irving going on injured reserve. Newsome has received more and more playing time in recent weeks yet the sack numbers haven't really came this year like we saw in 2014. As far as Cole, he is playing much more on third down. The Colts are using a package of Cole, Robert Mathis, Erik Walden and Kendall Langford on third downs. Cole just doesn't have the body type to be a true 3-4 defensive end on the early downs.
DaQuan K. (Jeffersonville, IN)
I was wondering do you see the Coaches giving D'Joun Smith or Darius Butler a shot to play Cornerback #2 ? I have been a football fan 16 out of my 25 years of living . A Colts fan since I was 10 years old after my uncle got me watching them in 2000. I have never seen a starting CB get beat in coverage like Greg Toler has week after week . They even talked about it on SNF last Sunday. What are your thoughts ?
Bowen: This has been a frequent question in recent mailbags in recent weeks. There's been no indication given that the Colts are going to supplant Toler in the lineup. Chuck Pagano talked this week about the inconsistences of the secondary this season, saying that there's been inconsistencies everywhere this year, including with the coaches. Pagano is never one to single out a player for "poor" play. Smith continues to play on special teams and looks to be the team's fourth cornerback right now. Does the return of Jalil Brown impact how the cornerback group will look on Sunday? I don't see it happening. This staff has made no comments about changing up the personnel at the backend of the defense.
Tommy G. (Utah)
If the Colts win on Sunday and the Texans lose to the Patriots then the Texans beat us the next week to put us both at 7-7 and then both teams win out, who would win the division? Considering we beat them in the first meeting so both teams would be 1-1 against each other and both have the same record. Thanks
Bowen: Tommy, your head, my head and everyone's head might explode if that happens. The tiebreaker scenarios don't lead to any simple answer to your question. Here me out on this. After head-to-head, the second tiebreaker would be divisional record with both teams having one loss in the AFC South (under your scenario). Next up is common opponents. If the Colts beat the Dolphins (12/27) and the Texans lose this week to the Patriots, then they will have the same record in this tiebreaker. Next up, is conference record. The teams would both be 7-5 under your scenario, so another tie. The next tiebreaker would be strength of victory, and that's just too much to crunch right now with several more wins likely coming for each team. Basically, cheer for the Colts and Patriots this weekend (yes, the Patriots). Then hope the Colts beat the Texans next weekend, so we aren't having to go down the list of tiebreakers during the holiday season.
Lori A. (Indianapolis)
Hi Kevin, I just wanted to know if the colts have already started thinking about potential draft prospects for the next season. Do they plan on going out and getting some Offensive line and Cornerback help? I still don't understand the reasoning behind taking Phillip Dorset in the first round. We could have picked a first round offensive lineman who could handle double teams but instead we pick a small wide receiver. Will us colts fans get what we want out of the draft next season? Also, Are the colts ever going to consider using Duron Carter? He is big and should be given a chance as a Wide Receiver especially since Andre Johnson, Griff Whalen, and Phillip Dorset just aint cutting it? Thank you. I will look forward to your answer. #Bleedblue
Bowen: The Colts scouts have just wrapped up a college regular season on the road scouting all across the country. Ryan Grigson has been steadfast in the belief of letting the board fall to you and taking the best player available. An exclusive "position-specific" draft strategy is something that I don't think any team really follows when it comes time to draft. I think it's still very, very early to write off Phillip Dorsett. Without his massive touchdown in the Week Three comeback in Tennessee, this team would have started the season 0-3 with an injured Andrew Luck exiting that game. Dorsett then had the injury in October and looks like he will return to the field this weekend. The offensive line is always going to be a focus and it wouldn't shock me at all if we saw a pick(s) used in that group come late April. As far as Carter, the kid has never played in an NFL game and that wide receiver group is just way too crowded right now to bring him up in such a critical playoff stretch. I think the staff would beg to differ on the contributions they've gotten this season from the backend of that group. You just don't have room for Carter in the active roster.
Dave H. (Sebring, FL)
RIGHT NOW, THE TEXANS,JAGS WANT TO SEE US KNOCKED OFF.SO THEY CAN CONTROL THE DIVISION AND MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!SO CAN THIS TEAM FINALLY GET IT TOGETHER, AND WIN OUT AND KEEP OUR PLAYOFFS HOPES ALIVE??
Bowen: The million-dollar questions ends our Week 14 mailbag. This was what Chuck Pagano presented to his team on Monday at their first meeting of Jaguars week. This is a test for the 2015 Colts after they had a relatively stress-free December the past two years in route to clinching the AFC South. If the Colts can show that Pittsburgh was more of a fluke compared to three-game winning streak they had going into last week, that should allow for this team to control their own destiny down the stretch. The Week 15 matchup between the Colts and Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium is going to set up quite the juicy matchup for the AFC South.