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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: How Will The Colts Handle New Touchback Rule In 2016?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about the health of Dwayne Allen, the injuries on the defensive side of the ball and how much pressure is on the offense early in 2016.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 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).

Greg C. (Wilmington, WV)

Kevin, Enjoy your mailbag. I'm excited about the upcoming season, although I think we will need patience until the regulars get back.'

I have two special teams related questions this week:

  1. How do you think the kickoff and punt return teams will fare this year? Do you think they will adjust during the course of the season, if it turns out taking a knee 2 yards deep in the end zone turns out to be the smart play?
  1. What ever happen to the "coffin corner" kick. It seems to me, I see it less and less in the league. Is it that is too difficult to do or do teams want to try and cause a turnover?

Bowen: 1. I do see the new touchback rule impacting things in Indianapolis. With touchbacks moving up to the 25-yard line this season, we saw Pat McAfee adjust his kickoff strategy in the preseason. Instead of McAfee booming balls deep into the end zone, therefore forcing a touchback and "giving up" the 25-yard line, teams don't just want to hand their opponents a free five yards this season. How about kicking touchbacks right at the goal line, or a yard or two deep, and having teams bring out kick returns? Then your coverage unit has a chance to make a play before the 25-yard line and win some field position. Because of this, we are going to see more returns this year. I think the Colts will experiment with shorter kickoffs in the regular season 2. I think we will still see a good amount of "coffin corner" kicks/punts. Angle punting has to be something teams use with how dangerous returners are in the NFL. Pat McAfee uses it, and his ability to hang punts is a weapon.

Sergio D. (Rhode Island)


Really concerned with all the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary and at linebackers. What is your assessment on the rookies and new players that will be filling in? Can they hold their own until we get the starters back?

Bowen: The question of the week on the defensive side of the ball. Consider this: at cornerback, the four healthy guys on Sunday played a combined 16 preseason snaps with the Colts this year. All of them were by March free agent signee Patrick Robinson. That's crazy. So we just don't know what we are going to see from newcomers like Antonio Cromartie, Daryl Morris and Rashaan Melvin. Now, we are going to see T.J. Green start at safety this Sunday. I think Green has shown up this preseason to the point where the Colts feel like he's ready to play a major role in Week One. That wasn't the case back when the Colts first drafted Green, because he had just one year of starting experience in college. If Sio Moore can't go at inside linebacker on Sunday, the Colts feel pretty comfortable with Antonio Morrison and the others who would be filling in. Moore is a very athletic linebacker and the Colts don't have someone with that skillset behind him. But you have to think the Lions will want to test the Colts more vertically, therefore stressing the secondary. It's a tall order for these guys filling in and our first educated answer at this will come Sunday inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Richard P. (Rochester, NY)


Hi Kevin, I have a real quick question I hope you can answer. Now that the roster is finalized do you know when we can see the depth chart on the website? The roster is there but as of today no depth chart. Thanks a lot. Richard

Bowen: Richard, here is the updated depth chart.

James O. (Ontario, Canada)

Hi Kevin! My wife and I are huge fans of your Mailbag & the Colts! We travel to Indy just about every year for a game. This is my first time writing in.

My question is this. Watching Earl Okine in the last game against the Bengals made my mouth water! He was everywhere...sacking, tackling, etc. With such production and at a bewildering 6'6, 290 why on earth did we let him go??>

Was Maggitt more consistent or contribute more on special teams to warrant making it over Okine?

Bowen: James, thanks to you and your wife for checking out the mailbag and safe travels when you guys do make the trip down this year. This is a good question. For me, it came down to a either/or type of situation with Maggitt/Okine. Roster mechanics just didn't give the Colts any luxury in keeping extra bodies off the edge. The Colts have always been very high on Maggitt and they liked what the undrafted guy showed to start and finish the preseason. Remember, Maggitt's pedigree includes an 11-sack season in the SEC. It would not surprise me at all though if Okine found his way onto a roster at some point this season.

Rico W. (Tulsa, OK)

Kevin, What happens if Dewayne Allen keeps coughing up the ball or worse gets injured (again)? Will Mr. Doyle be the #1 tight end or Mr. Swoope? Who is the fastest Tight end on the club?

Thanks again, Colts Strong

Bowen: Well, this is a hypothetical the Colts want no part of in 2016. I'd assume Jack Doyle would slide into Allen's role and of course the reps would increase for Mo Alie-Cox. That's a good question on who the fastest tight end is on the roster. My guess would be Swoope.

Zach M. (Rochester, NY)

Hello Kevin how has it been?

What was the reason behind Earl Okine release? And why wasn't he signed to the PS instead of like Kelcy Quarles?

Also are the Colts going to sign Frankie Williams back really liked the way he played?

Also what was the reasoning for signing Matthis Farley and Nieko The ole

Finally why did the Colts orignally keep case cofffman instead of keeping Smith on the active roster

Bowen: Zach always gets his money's worth on the questions. 1. We answer that one below. 2. Frankie Williams is now on the practice squad. The Colts saw a chance to get a corner or two with game experience in the NFL and jumped on that. 3. With Farley, this is a guy who played very well in the preseason and has a history in college of being a very productive player on special teams. Also, the Colts need an extra safety right now with Clayton Geathers still on the mend. 4. It was never a reality for the Colts to keep Coffman or Smith very long on the 53-man roster. A fourth tight end and/or a sixth wide receiver was just not feasible with the injuries on defense. Smith is now on the team's practice squad.

Dustin B. (Kings Mountain, NC)

Hi Kevin, my question involves out style this season. Luck said the other day that he sees our team "putting up a lot of points." Do you see this as possible? I think maybe we should focus on defense more than putting up a kit of points. What's your take?

Bowen: Well, in Andrew Luck's case, he's worried about putting up points, not keeping them off the board. Luck plays on offense and that unit's job is to score. Right now, the Colts have no real choice other than to lean on the offense. Jim Irsay touched on it earlier this week. He said the offense has to carry things early on this season. The Colts defense could be missing right around a handful of starters on Sunday, and some really important ones. That's why the offense has to be counted on, more than usual, to start the season.

Robert S. (California)

Hey kevin, I really appreciate you answering all of our questions each week. My questions are 1. Do we know who are Captains will be for the 2016 season? And 2. How does a player get chosen as captain? Do the players vote or have any say in the decision, or is it the coaches decision, or a mix of the two? Thanks once again! #ColtsNation

Bowen: 1. The Colts don't designate specific captains for the entire season that you see at every coin toss. It's typically a game-by-game thing. But Andrew Luck, Robert Mathis and Adam Vinatieri are the likely captains in each unit. 2. I would say it's a combination of both. Those three are viewed as leaders and clearly have the on-the-field pedigree to back up why they deserve the 'C' on the chest.

Evan B. (New Philly, Ohio)

Hi Kevin, how are you today? I have a question about some potential Colts Hall of Famers. Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Adam Vinateri, and Jeff Saturday, are and were great players but do they all deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Do you think I missed any other players? Thank you and, Go Colts!

Bowen: Evan, doing great. Thanks for asking. Okay, let me run through this. The locks are Manning and Vinatieri. I would put Edgerrin James up next. It's going to take a while, but I fully expect James to eventually get in. It's not like running backs are pounding down the door to Canton. Plus, James' numbers are right there with guys that have already been inducted to Canton. After that, I would rank it Wayne, Freeney, Mathis and Saturday as being the most likely guys to go in. Those two pass rushers could use some strong seasons to close out their careers. Outside of James, Manning and Vinatieri, I'm not sure where the next gold jacket Colt will come (depending on how Mathis/Freeney finish their careers).

Sandie S. (Mechanicsville, PA)

Kevin, thanks for your time. My question is about the roster designation for experience. I've noticed that players go from R to 2 like Jacoby Brissett; however, Erik Swoope and Edwin Jackson are at 1. Does this have something to do with the practice squad? Thanks for your answer.

Bowen: Correct. Those guys didn't "accrue" enough games to have them labeled as a second-year player. Swoope played in just one game. Jackson never cracked the game day roster.

Landen S. (St. George, Utah)

Do you think the newly acquired Akeem ayers will start next to Mathis sometime this season?

Bowen: I think we are a little bit away from this truly being talked about. Erik Walden does his job very well. It's going to take something significant to supplant Walden. The Colts do think Ayers has a chance to succeed in finally playing in a 3-4 system. Earlier this week, Ryan Grigson had this to say about Ayers: "Akeem Ayers is a guy that's really a 3-4 outside backer that brings a lot of athleticism and bend and versatility to our scheme. And I think he's never really had a chance to come off the edge and use that athleticism."

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