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).
Daniel S. (Rio de Janeiro)
Hi Kevin, long time reader here. I am making the trip from Brazil to next two home games: Titans and Steelers.
First of all my question is about Ryan Kelly. Usually when we dont heard much about a center is a good sign, but how is doing comparing with others great centers (Pouncey, Mack etc) in their rookie years?
About Pat McAfee...He is a beast, but just looks he isn't getting much respect of the media outside Indiana.
Bowen: Taking a gander over to Pro Football Focus, Kelly's rookie numbers are similar from a pass blocking standpoint to guys like Mack and Pouncey. Those two were much better road graders though when it came to the run game. Kelly has still yet to allow a sack in 636 snaps (he's also not missed a snap through 9 games). Simply, Kelly's presence every week is a major, major upgrade from what the Colts were used to at the center position with Andrew Luck. In regards to Pat McAfee, we will find out when Pro Bowl voting rolls around just how much national respect the all-purpose punter gets in 2016. McAfee is currently the NFL's top punter in average and ranks 5th in net punting average. The good news for his Pro Bowl hopes is the top four punters in net average all reside in the NFC. Remember, the Pro Bowl is back to the AFC/NFC format this season. McAfee should have a strong case to make his second Pro Bowl.
Ted H. (Alamogordo, NM)
One on the Colts biggest problems game in and game out this year has been penalties. They have constantly shot themselves in the foot each game. What happened to change this in the Packer's game? I believe this was the reason for the win. I can only hope this is the trend for the remainder of the season.
Bowen: The Colts had four penalties for 35 yards in last Sunday's win. They came into that game averaging eight penalties for around 70 yards per game. This was definitely a reason why the Colts had the chance for the upset. Now, the Colts still had some untimely penalties that negated big plays, but the pure quantity of infractions did go down quite a bit. It's impossible to put a finger onto exactly why the Colts were much cleaner in the penalty department. After the win, players harped on the focus the team had knowing what was at stake in needing/getting such an important victory. Will the Colts have that the final seven weeks of the season, when the atmospheres won't be "primetime in Lambeau" types of games every week? For the Colts to have a realistic shot at the Texans, they must show the discipline style that was witnessed in Green Bay.
Michael F. (Porter Ranch, CA)
Kevin... first, as always, thanks so much for doing this and giving Colts fans a voice. With the bye week here, I thought this might be a good time to look ahead to the draft picks that we have. There's a group of fans who follow the draft closely and they believe that (A) the Colts will likely get an additional #4 for the loss of Fleener, but some also believe that (B) the Colts may also get an additional #6 either for the loss of Lowery (?) or for perhaps a trade we have made in the past that has come due. And, some believe that the Colts have (C) already traded away their #7 in the Billy Wynn trade of a year ago. Can you clarify these views and confirm what you can? Again, many thanks....
Bowen: My pleasure, Michael. I've actually been curious about this same sort of question. The exact formula of how conditional round picks work isn't truly defined. We will find out what picks the Colts will get early in the spring. For now, I will go off "Over The Cap" which does a great job in breaking down how the picks could turn out. They have the Colts getting just a 5th rounder for Coby Fleener. They see Jerrell Freeman and Patrick Robinson cancelling each other out. They also see Dwight Lowery and Scott Tolzien cancelling each other out. Here's their complete breakdown. I think the pricing of the deals is based more off their projections, versus the production in 2016.
Jacob H. (Fullerton, CA)
Kevin, do you think the Colts would ever make Jack Doyle the primary starter on the team, instead of Allen? In my opinion, Jack Doyle is a starter in this league. I am so impressed by this guy; so is everyone else in the organization/fan base. He has talent to play at this level, the Colts have to realize this as well, right? When is Doyle's contract year? Are they planning to lock him up long term? And I was going to wait till the end of the season to ask this, but honestly let's say Doyle continues on this path to greatness, is there any chance we ship Allen off somewhere for a 3rd or 4th rounder and just go with Doyle?
Bowen: Jack Doyle is in the final year of his contract. In a perfect world, I think the Colts would more than love to have both these tight ends. When Allen's been healthy this season, Rob Chudzinski has used plenty of two tight end looks. Now, Doyle could command a price tag this offseason that is just too steep. But we don't know how that's going to play out. The Colts want to use two tight ends. That's obvious. I still think Allen's in-line blocking is something that cannot be taken for granted and a major reason why the Colts wanted him back last offseason. I could certainly see both of these guys working together again in 2017, but it depends on the market for Doyle. Allen is locked up for another three seasons after 2016.
Jacob S. (Muncie, IN)
Is there still a chance for the colts to make the playoffs if they would it be a wildcard spot
Bowen: Yes, there is Jacob, but the division is the much more realistic route. Check this story out for a closer look into the 2016 playoff hopes for 2016. For the Colts to make the playoffs, it all but has to be via the AFC South. That's the easier path with the AFC West teams having an early firm grasp to those two Wild Card spots (remember the Colts already lost to Denver and Kansas City, so those tiebreakers are gone).
Dustin K. (Fort Wayne, IN)
Why dont we use todman at rb he has good speed why not do screen passes with him thanks and go colts.
Bowen: This is a question that obviously picked up some steam after seeing Jordan Todman change the game against Green Bay. Speed is arguably Todman's greatest asset. We saw him show that off in the preseason, as a running back. Right now, the Colts have pretty much shifted away from using a third running back within a game plan. Josh Ferguson's snaps have really, really dwindled. Frank Gore and Robert Turbin are carrying the load at running back, and both are doing a nice job back there. I'd be a little surprised if we see Todman all of a sudden thrown into the offensive game plan. I think the Colts like what Turbin has given them on third down. Maybe we see a couple of snaps for Todman, but it's not like the offense is really lagging and needs a spark. Gore and Turbin are doing a nice job and both bring that blocking element, therefore the Colts aren't revealing what they are doing offensively when those guys come onto the field.
Yash T. (Denver)
How's your bye week going? Really can't thank you enough. These mailbags are seriously insightful and keeps a fan so far from Indy well connected.
Funky Question... on Sunday night I watched the Raiders game and noticed something I've never seen: Oakland uses 6 O-Lineman. This kept Carr up right with plenty of time to complete throws/run the ball against one of the leagurs best defenses. Is that allowed? If so why in the world don't we do something like that? Especially with such a young OLine.
Seriously KB, you're a stud for these Mailbags, keep em coming. A Die Hard fan from Broncos territory. - YT
Bowen: Yash, always good to hear from you. It was nice having a little break from the hustle and bustle (especially with two games in five days when the bye week ends) and I'll certainly enjoy a relaxing Sunday. Onto your question. Using six offensive linemen on a given play is definitely allowed. The Colts have done it at times, too. A few years back, we saw New England have a very successful outing against the Colts via the run, when using an extra tackle. I think the biggest reason why you don't see a higher frequency of it is because defenses will start to catch on. The game plans will be coming for it if offenses repeat the six-linemen look week after week. Even within the game itself, you are often tipping your hand when you take a skill player off the field for an extra lineman. I think this sort of strategy can work, but only in small doses.
Drew W. (Yuma, AZ)
Hi this is my first time submitting a question, and I read your posts every week. I'm a huge Colts fan, and also a Green Bay Packers fan.
Obviously I'm here to talk about the Colts, this year has been a rough one for the Colts, but I saw some improvement during the packers game. I'm glad they won. So here's my questions:
- Why has Jacoby Brissett not been involved really on offense? Do they just need to figure out a place for him. Maybe utilize his speed a bit more.
- Do you see improvement on many levels for this team, going forward? Or more of the same?
Thanks for these posts and I'm interested to know your thoughts.
Bowen: 1. We've had this question a few times this year. It has puzzled me as to why Phillip Dorsett didn't get more involved when Donte Moncrief was out. I thought Dorsett's position coach, Lee Hull, described his second-year wideout pretty well earlier this week. It's not a "hands" issue with Dorsett. He's made difficult catches this season. Hull said Dorsett is being introduced to a much more expansive route tree than what he had to do in college. Remember, the best game of Dorsett's career came back in Week One. That was when T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief were healthy. With those two healthy again, that should give Dorsett some very favorable matchups in possibly getting lost in opposing defense's game plans. 2. This is THE question of the second half of 2016. Was last Sunday's win over the Packers an aberration? I do think the offense will see more consistent production in the final seven games. The skill group is healthy, the line has had longer stretches of better play lately and Andrew Luck is still very efficient. Defensively, you have more questions and it's a lot to ask for that group to all of a sudden being a top-10 unit. The pass rushing help has been virtually non-existent outside of Erik Walden. The Colts don't play a lot of terrific offensive teams the rest of the season. If the defense can trim down the missed tackling and limit the quantity of penalties, then that side of the ball should do enough to have this team in AFC South contention down the stretch.
Harry C. (Orlando)
Why is it that year after year the Colts never draft any good defensive players? We are always at the bottom in defense.
Bowen: A focus for next year's draft has to be on the defensive side of the ball. Jim Irsay even said as much earlier this week. I think what you've seen from this regime was an offensive focus through the draft from 2012-14. In that haul, you've seen Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Jack Mewhort and Donte Moncrief all come from the first three rounds. In the last two drafts, it's been more of a defensive shift---with guys like Henry Anderson, Clayton Geathers, David Parry and T.J. Green. Even this past year with Hassan Ridgeway and Antonio Morrison getting some defensive run as rookies. Now, D'Joun Smith did not work out. So that's why I've pegged linebackers AND cornerback as a "need to get" when the 2017 Draft rolls around. The Colts have to start finding impactful defensive talent to complement what has been built on offense.
Matt W. (Gaithersburg, MD)
Hey Mr. Bowen quick 3 part question, why is Mathis a LB instead of being a DE?? At DE in his Career he has been unstoppable but ever since he went to lb he has not produced as good except for 2014 if I'm not mistaking but since then I know his speed isn't what it once was which makes me wonder why they have him a LB. How good is Mathis on covering considering his speed ain't what it use to be? And do u think we will ever see Mathis on the D line again or atleast try him in 1 game and see what he does. Thanks again Mr.Bowen for you're time. COLTS NATION!
Bowen: Well the big answer to your question is based off the type of defense the Colts now play. Ever since 2012, the Colts have been in a 3-4 scheme. When they previously played a 4-3, Mathis was better suited as a defensive end (even though he was still a bit undersized). In the 3-4, the Colts have to play Mathis as the RUSH linebacker. He's still playing at the line of scrimmage on probably 95 percent of his defensive snaps. It was 2013 when Mathis led the NFL in sacks, from the RUSH outside linebacker spot. Yes, Mathis has played a couple of snaps in coverage this year, but he's virtually always moving forward as a 3-4 OLB.