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).
Roger G. (Conway, AR)
Hi Kevin, thanks for answering our questions!
I thought Tyler Varga was one of the most promising rookies from last year, undrafted or otherwise, but his season was cut short by a concussion after only a few games and he was placed on IR. It must have been a particularly bad concussion for him to be ruled out for the rest of the season, especially after only three games. Since he's back with the team for OTAs, how is he doing now, and do you see him as a viable contender for a roster spot this season?
Bowen: Tyler Varga's season ended on the onside kick attempt by the Titans in Week Three of the Colts' comeback win in Nashville. The hit Varga took on that onside kick sent him to injured reserve shortly thereafter. Varga spoke to the media earlier this week and assured everyone that he's completely healthy. He will be using the most "heavy duty helmet" in his second NFL season. It was limited snaps as a rookie, but Varga showed enough to possibly push for reps behind Frank Gore in 2016.
Josh F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)
We all know that the Colts need to increase the pass rush. We also know that they did not find "their" guy to target in the draft. We did get a late round OLB and some undrafted guys, but where will the pressure come from. I read the article you wrote on the defensive draftees and like the idea of pressure up the middle with Ridgeway, but how will The Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino dial up pressure packages with the guys we have up front and on the edge?
Bowen: This is probably THE defensive question of the 2016 season. When Ted Monachino was first hired he said that the pass rush was his top priority. He's obviously not going to release his specific plans from a schematic standpoint. We will have to wait until the fall for that to be unveiled. I do think he's going to lean heavily on his secondary play and Robert Mathis being another year removed from his Achilles' injury. If Patrick Robinson and Vontae Davis can stay healthy, the Colts should have two cornerbacks more than capable of giving the front seven extra time to get after quarterbacks. Then with Mathis, he didn't start until Week Seven last year and admitted he didn't feel his complete self until about late-November. Mathis can now have his normal training this offseason and the Colts are hoping that translates into a double-digit sack season.
Kevin F. (Wrentham, MA)
I've been reading Bill Polian's book "the game plan" and wanted to know if the colts adhere to the same tenets that he describes in it when considering drafting players and building a team.
I am also curious about the decision to run a 3-4 defense and using most of the cap funding for offense. Polian states in his book that the 3-4 costs more than the 4-3 for various reasons.
Thank you for any reply.
P.s. I've been a colts fan since 1990 despite now living 2 miles from Gillette stadium.
Bowen: Kevin, I have not read the book so I'm not sure exactly the details within the covers. However, I do think a 3-4 costs a tad more because you are paying for two premium edge rushers. However, when comparing 3-4 defenses to 4-3 schemes, the difference isn't much from a cap standpoint. I think with the Colts we saw major investments early on to support Andrew Luck. Now recently, we are starting to see more and more picks invested on the defensive of the ball with that building now ramping up. It was a virtual restart in 2012 with the cap situation with the Colts hitting early on some key 2012 draftees now entering their second contracts.
Jarred M. (Fort Smith, AR)
Hey long time fan here, my question is do we go for players like DJ Hayden and Dee Milliner since we didn't draft a cb and Jarvis Jones for pass rush or C. Patterson to help Luck a bit. I know we signed 21 undrafted players but these are good quality guys that could help now like Luke Joeckel. What you think?
Bowen: Jarred, unless I'm missing something, those players are still all under contract. I can't see any of their current teams just giving up on those guys without some major resources coming back their way.
Olin L. (Las Vegas)
After the draft, it is clear that Luck is ready for a bounce back year. I'm thinking of drafting him in Fantasy Football in the 2nd-4th Round. Would he be a steal in that round if he has a great season?
Bowen: The first Fantasy Football question of the offseason. Depending on your league settings, I think Luck is a top-five quarterback in 2016. A healthy Luck with the weapons that he does have at the receiver position should get him back to the 2014 player we saw, leading fantasy leagues.
David P. (Indianapolis)
Kevin once again thank you for all you do for us Colts Fans. Now with our impressive draft and the 21 UDFA's do you feel as if Chuck and Ryan has done enough to regain the South the year considering all the upgrades that the other teams in the South have done this offseason?
Bowen: I do think the Colts will again be a team to more than contend with atop the AFC South. Yes, the division has (on paper) really improved. What Jacksonville is starting to build opposite a nice young offensive core has to have head coach Gus Bradley (a defensive guy) ready for the season to arrive. This division is going to be much more competitive going forward. Jim Irsay has said the Texans are the "team to beat" after captuing the division last season. But I still believe the Colts and Texans are in the lead pack, with Tennessee and Jacksonville having to make quite the jump to be a playoff contender. The latter two being much more ready to go from a top-five drafting team to a potential Wild Card/Division competitor.
Nathan W. (California)
I have two questions for you. Do you think Turbin will be the Colts true number 2 running back to start the season?
And what UDFA do you think have the best chance of making the roster? Thanks.
Bowen: I do think Robert Turbin can certainly be the No. 2 back behind Frank Gore. A high ankle injury hindered Turbin last year. Before that, he was a very quality No. 2 guy in Seattle, with Marshawn Lynch handling the bulk of the workload. Turbin has three-down ability and been a second option behind one of the league's best backs before. With the UDFA class, I'm going to be keeping a close eye on RB-Josh Ferguson, TE-Darion Griswold, the wide receiver group, the edge guys (Ron Thompson Jr. and Curt Maggitt) and the cornerback contingent.
Alec G. (Bakersfield, CA)
Is tj green going be a back up safty or cornerback? Or is he going to be a safty cornerback hybrid? I think with the hybrid he would have more of a impact do to mike adams being the interception king and clayton geather being a monster hitter .
Bowen: T.J. Green will be a safety. I'm very interested to see how the Colts utilize Green in his rookie season. He's so raw and really hasn't played too much safety (just two years of it in college). That makes me think the Colts will put him at safety and groom him there. I do think he could play a similar package to what Clayton Geathers was exposed to as a rookie. On passing downs, having Green on the field as an extra defensive back would give the Colts a body type/player to matchup with tight ends/multiple receiver looks.
Ronald H. (Dover, DE)
I really appreciate your work with the mailbag. It allows fans like myself to gain insight from professionals like yourself.
I recently read that Earl Okine was making the move to edge rusher/linebacker. I am excited about this for that I am a huge fan of Earl I truly believe that he could be a steal for us. Considering that I am sure that Chuck and Ted know what they are doing and that Earl Okine has a similar build as Mario Williams and is incredibly athletic for a man his size I believe that this move can be an interesting and fruitful one. I also considered that Earl had some experience standing up in the FXFL. What are your thoughts on this?
Bowen: Ronald, thanks for reading along. I always enjoy all the variety from fans. Earl Okine met the media this week and count me as very, very intrigued to see what that 6-6, 290-pound frame can do off the edge. The Colts have plenty of reps to be had behind Robert Mathis, Erik Walden and Trent Cole, so Okine is going to have opportunities this offseason/preseason. Seeing a player of Okine's size in a stand-up position isn't a common occurrence in the NFL. The experiment makes sense though with the Colts returning a good amount of defensive line depth plus adding Arthur Jones (returning from injury) and fourth-round pick Hassan Ridgeway to that group. With Okine, seventh-round pick Trevor Bates and a couple of undrafted free agents coming off the edge, the Colts would love to have a young/developmental option with Mathis/Walden/Cole all entering contract years.
Nathan W. (Indiana)
Each year I try to pick a player to follow through training camp..
This year the guy I want to follow is an UDFA that signed with the team-- Marcus Leak WR - Attended UNC Charlotte pro day- seems to have been away from football for a year - any background he wants to share? All the reports I see just say personal reasons - hope things are sorted and going well for him now..
Having someone on the Colts tied to the university I graduated from( at least he was at the pro day!) was easy pick who I was going to follow this year.. And it seems the colts may be light on WR after the starters.. so he should have a fighting chance !
Bowen: Academic ineligibility kept Marcus Leak off the field during his final seasons at Maryland. Current Colts wide receivers coach Lee Hull recruited Leak to Maryland so there's some familiarity there. Without any real proven wide receivers behind T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett, the Colts will have a couple of open wideout spots to fill out their 53-man roster this season.
Matt W. (Plant City, FL)
Hi Mr . Bowen just a quick question beings the Colts didn't go after the German sleeper and i know the Colts signed 2 running backs but y don't the Colts try beckham the RB he's fast and very very strong I mean 36 reps is crazy he did more then anybody in the draft this year. Could the Colts atleast try him and see what he's about and atleast try him in pre season games cause I believe he's a diamond in the rough and colts could us a STRONG young RB and having frank gore teach him would be great. What's you're take on this?
Bowen: Matt, I'm not sure if you saw but Terron Beckham is a tryout invitee for the New York Jets. The cousin of Odell, Terron will get a chance to try and impress enough to find his way onto the Jets' 90-roster. The Colts one rookie running back is Josh Ferguson out of Illinois. Ferguson was a multi-purpose back in the Big Ten and brings a scat-back type of presence to a running back group that could use a shiftier option.
Carac C. (Indianapolis)
Hi kevin, I've been wondering for a while now what's the difference between a nose tackle and a defensive tackle? And also who are the 3 rookies your most excited to see during training camp?
Bowen: In a 3-4 scheme, the nose tackle lines up opposite the center, trying to occupy multiple blockers. A defensive tackle lines up a little bit closer to the edge, usually opposite the guard. As far as the three rookies I'm looking forward to the most, let's go with ILB-Antonio Morrison (Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson have everyone fired up about this physical linebacker), OT-Joe Haeg (think he could be a long-term tackle in this league, great frame to work with) and undrafted OLB-Curt Maggitt (11.0 sacks in the SEC as a junior is nothing to sneeze at).
Bransen H. (Tipton, IN)
Hey Kevin, I have two questions.
- With OLB being old and thin this year, and with the drafting of Antonio Morrison, do you think the Colts would put Sio Moore at OLB? If I'm not mistaken, I'm sure he has played all LB positions before.
- Love seeing the colts getting offensive line in this year draft. My question is do you think we can suspect someone on the O-line getting cut? I'm pretty sure we total at 10 O-linemen?
- Finally, after Dorsett it's a toss up for number 4 WR. Do you think an UDFA could come into that role? Or would they promote Quan Bray, Or Tyms? Thanks.
Bowen: 1. Sio Moore does have versatility in the linebacker group. As of now though, I expect him to compete at the inside linebacker position. I wouldn't totally rule him out playing outside because the Colts could use some depth there, if the inside competition doesn't initially work out for Moore. 2. This is a great question. The Colts did have nine offensive linemen on their active roster several times last season. Guys are going to get cut on the offensive line. That's just purely from a numbers game. However, it wouldn't shock me if the Colts routinely carried nine linemen next season with at least three of those guys being rookies. 3. I do think the fourth and fifth wide receiver spots are wide open. The Colts brought in five undrafted free agent receivers so there will be plenty of competition from a bodies standpoint to round out that group.
Terry C. (Noblesville)
For a year and a half Colts have been talking about Luck's contract. Still not done. You would think they would have done this prior to free agency so they would know how much cap space was available to improve team.
The delay suggest there are concerns about him physically; maybe a right shoulder issue? There sure seems to be delays.
Bowen: I don't think have been any delays in Andrew Luck's contract. The talk over the last year and a half is simply because there is immense interest (from around the NFL) on what Luck's deal will look like. Technically, the Colts and Luck don't need to finalize a deal until next spring. Luck is under contract through this season and the Colts could even apply the franchise tag next year. The Colts and Luck have both made it clear that they expect a deal to get done sometime this summer. No need to worry about the Colts projecting what their cap situation will look like under Luck's second contact. They've planned for this pending contract for some time now, so they have a pretty good idea of how such a deal will impact things going forward.
Cayden A. (Sioux Falls, SD)
Hey Kevin, with Arian Foster still a free agent do you think the colts could sign him as a 2nd RB due to his injury problems? He has been such a great pass and speed RB in Texas so do you think the Colts could pick him up for a Bradshaw type role? Thanks
Bowen: I don't think the financials are there for Arian Foster. The Colts went out this offseason and found a couple of proven backups in Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman. They've been contributors on playoffs teams before and the Colts obviously hope they can do the same in Indianapolis.