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).
Olin L. (Henderson, NV)
This offseason, the Colts would have about $51 million dollars in salary cap space and about $140 million dollars in protected salary cap space. With that kind of money, we should be able to sign a few big names to the team. One of these free agents should be a Wide Receiver. I'm saying that because when Moncrief was out and Dorsett was underperforming, Hilton was getting double-covered because the defense knew that Luck would go to Hilton a lot. Plus with the addition of that receiver and the already great passing attack, we could one of the best passing offenses in the league next season. But otherwise I'm totally would be focusing on the Offensive Line and Defense. What's your opinion?
Bowen: I'm not a fan of this. Let's start with Donte Moncrief. I've heard some talk of people questioning Moncrief's durability. I don't think that's fair. The guy didn't miss a game his first two NFL seasons. This year he gets smoked on a hit over the middle in Week Two and injures his shoulder. It's the shoulder that kept him off the field for half of this season (Moncrief also missed the Minnesota game due to a hamstring injury). For a wide receiver, I'd much rather have a guy spending his offseason healing an upper body injury versus something in the leg/foot area. I understand the concern/questions with Jacoby Brissett. I think with a healthy Moncrief, Chester Rogers pushing Dorsett and the tight end group returning, the Colts have plenty of weapons in the passing game for 2017. This offseason should see a focus on re-signing your own, making several changes to the defensive personnel and then sprinkling in an offensive piece or two (running back, maybe a middle-round pick on the offensive line).
Matthew H. (Iowa)
I'm not trying to say I want the colts to have the 15th pick in the draft, but wouldn't it make more sense for the colts to pick 15th size they beat the Vikings? I know the tiebreakers don't work that way, but to me that makes more sense than a coin flip.
Bowen: Haha, I'm with you Matthew. A coin flip (a la Friday Night Lights) seems like something my mother would do to decide whether my brother or I would get to go to a sporting event. One slot in the draft can make a massive difference though. I'm not sure why the NFL doesn't have head-to-head as a tiebreaking procedure in deciding the draft order. It's crazy though that the Colts and Vikings tied on strength of schedule.
Michael F. (Porter Ranch, CA)
Kevin.... Not sure if you're allowed to comment on this or not.... but, I'm asking....
For the final 4-6 games of the year, Luck wore some type of glove on his throwing hand. Can you tell us what this was for? Problem with a finger, hand, or wrist?
I hope this is not one of those things that if you told me, you'd have to kill me? That would be below average, so let's try to avoid that!
Many thanks for your time and effort all year....
Bowen: Luck started looking like a prized fighter with all the bandages/gloves he was wearing late in the season. He wasn't your typical "clean" looking quarterback. Luck, who wore the glove for just the final two and a half games, talked about the glove earlier this week: "The glove was for an innocuous cut. Literally a hang nail that just bleeds. (Jack) Mewhort was making fun of me and saying I looked like a motorcycle guy driving around."
Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)
Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for your work. As of writing this, Irsay still hasn't made any announcements about Pagano and Grigson. He remains frustratingly difficult to read, although my prediction is that he doesn't want to fire anyone unless he is extremely confident he can get a top-shelf replacement GM (who would then have Pagano's fate in his hands). No use worrying about it now, though, so let's focus on something positive.
Who would you consider to be the most impressive player this season? Not necessarily best, but most impressive? I'd have it between 5 candidates: Joe Haeg (who started 3 OL positions as a rookie), Ryan Kelly (who didn't allow a sack all season as a rookie), Jack Doyle (who emerged out of nowhere as Luck's most reliable security blanket), Chester Rogers (who as an UDFA outplayed 1st rounder Phillip Dorsett and emerged as a special team threat), and Clayton Geathers (who was a remarkable safety/nickel lb before getting injured). Curious to hear your thoughts, thanks!
Bowen: Stan, as always, very interesting question. Well let's not forget Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Pat McAfee and Adam Vinatieri. I thought all four players were impressive in various ways this past season. But it looks like you are focusing away from the headline guys, which is fine by me. I'm going to go with Doyle or Geathers. Who would have had Jack Doyle pegged as the team's second leading receiver when the season started in September? Doyle finished the year with the NFL's highest catch percentage for any tight end. The trust Andrew Luck has in Doyle cannot be overlooked. At so many critical moments this past year, Luck looked for Doyle (@Tennessee, @Green Bay, Jacksonville). I also think Geathers should be commended, too. Yes, injuries did disrupt the 2016 campaign for Geathers. But when he was on the field, Geathers just brought a different tone to the defense. He's easily that unit's most sure tackler. His versatility to play several spots gave Ted Monachino the ability to match up much better. There are many questions to be answered defensively this coming offseason. Geathers isn't one of them.
Martin G. (Topoclany, Slovakia)
I want to ask you if it is possible to change current contract with the player if he didn´t play well? Can GM make him take paycut and sign new contract? I also would like to know if I can find somewhere list of Colts player under contract and total space under salary cap? Thank you for your response. I wish you great day.
No.1 Colts fan from Slovakia!!!
Bowen: Yes, a player can restructure his contract with a team. We saw it last year with Arthur Jones and Trent Cole. The two websites that are pretty good for looking up contracts are Spotrac and Over The Cap.
Reid D. (Prosper, TX)
Don't you believe there's more options for defense in the FA and we should get a running back in the draft and get someone like Melvin Ingram?
Bowen: I do believe there are options in free agency (including a Melvin Ingram/other edge rushers) that the Colts should explore. But the Colts need some young defenders to be starting caliber players on their rookie contracts. You have to build on that side of the ball with guys in their early 20s. Yes, bring in some free agents, but the major part of the defensive rebuild has to come via the draft. That's how unit overhauls are done (look at the Indy offense in 2011/12 via the likes of Anthony Castonzo, Andrew Luck, Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton, etc.).
Matt G. (Indianapolis)
Will we be seeing Frank Gore back at RB1 in 2017? I would love to have him back and see us draft a potential starter for the future. I don't think a HB is high on our list of priorities in the draft(I don't think any offensive position is), but I do think we need to consider Gore's age and take advantage of a late round pick. There is plenty of HB talent coming in. Plus, I'm feeling optimistic about the future of our offensive line and we all saw the high level of play towards the end of the season benefited not only Luck, but Gore as well. With a young half back and a solid o-line we may see something we haven't seen in the Colts running game since the late 90's-early 00's.
Bowen: I'm under the impression that Frank Gore will be the team's starting running back (RB1) again in 2017. I agree with your general sentiment regarding the future of the run game. The offensive line deserves a large pat on the back for what they were able to do in the run game down the stretch. You saw a very small percentage of negative runs for the Colts compared to the rest of the league. The Colts do need to very seriously consider drafting a running back in the middle rounds of the 2017 Draft.
Zach M. (Rochester, NY)
Hello Kevin thanks for keeping this up throughout the offseason which I hope you are enjoying. My question is what are the key injuries to watch out for? Last year we had Anderson and Mathis and luck? Anyone like that to look out for?
Bowen: Love doing it Zach. Really, the Colts shouldn't have any major concerning injuries going into 2017/potentially impacting Training Camp. On offense Jack Mewhort (knee, chondral defect) is the major one. Defensively, it's Kendall Langford (knee) and Clayton Geathers (neck) coming back. It doesn't sound like any of these will be lingering into August/September, which is a good thing.
Khyler J. (Fishers, IN)
Hey Kevin! Love the Mailbag! I have 2 parts to my question
- Do you think Jabril Peppers would be a good fit in our defense? Where would you see him playing in our scheme?
- With our first pick we have in the 2017 Draft would you go defense? What position would you pick first? And who?
Bowen: 1. I'm curious to see how the evaluation pans out for Peppers. What is his exact position fit at the next level? It seems like Peppers is no lock at all to be a top half of the first-round guy. Is he a corner/safety tweener in the NFL game? If so, I don't really see the fit for the Colts. You have some hybrid defensive backs in T.J. Green, Clayton Geathers and possibly Darius Butler (pending free agency) still with this team. 2. Yes. Outside linebacker. Any of the elite ones that best fit the 3-4 scheme. Realistically, how about Derek Barnett from Tennessee?
John B. (Indianapolis)
How are you doing Kevin I have a few quick questions for you. I see to much talent on that team, future big talent at that and I'm just confused because if the Colts have plenty of money. Why each year they act like they can't atleast get one big player?? All these players and you guys get 0. Then wonder why it's an 8-8 season again it's confusion in my eyes. You want to win you have to spend. I'm huge on the fan end and I know this team is super bowl caliber but it seems like the COACHING OR WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE(IRSAY) Cares more about the small things then a Ring. It's a shocker and secondly... All these old players... You guys have YOUNG TALENT! EDWIN JACKSON MORRISON GEATHERS GREEN MORRIS ETC ETC ETC. WHY wasn't these guys all in together from the start it seems like all of them together could be something. Something huge IF THEY'RE ACTUALLY WORKING OUT LIKE HELL!! A MAN PLAYS HOW HIS BODY PLAYS AND IF YOU MEDIOCRE IN THE WORKOUT ROOM YOU MUST BE MEDIOCRE ON FIELD. Where's the real teamwork and motivation.
Bowen: John, I'm not sure if you've been following that closely, but the Colts have been spending in free agency lately. In 2015, they added some big names in Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Trent Cole etc. The result was 8-8. So with the Colts entering 2016 much more cap strapped, CB-Patrick Robinson was really the only free agent splash last year. I would expect the Colts to spend somewhere in between what we saw in 2015 and 2016 this free agency.
Joseph B. (England)
What do you think of the playcalling of Chud this year? Luck gets blamed for holding on the the ball too long, but it seems like Chud rarely dials up quick passing plays until we are down 2 scores in the 4th and we go with the hurry-up offense. If we keep our current front office staff, I think Chud needs to work on his play book to get more short quick passing routes to Andrew early on in the game. What are your thoughts?
Bowen: We've had this sort of question a lot over the season. I was surprised given what we saw out of Andrew Luck in the preseason game versus the Ravens earlier this year. Back in August, in Luck's first game action since November 2015, the starting offense had that quick rhythm with the quarterback completing 8-of-8 passes for 71 yards. That night we saw a bunch of underneath/crossing type routes from the Colts. When the season rolled around, we didn't see the same sort of frequency that we saw in August (granted it's the preseason and Luck only played a couple of quarters). I think with the skill set you have at receiver, with the speed of T.Y. Hilton/Phillip Dorsett/Chester Rogers and the power of a Donte Moncrief, you have guys that can make plays after the catch. The Colts were 26th in yards after catch this past year. That number should be higher with the sort of receivers the Colts have on their roster. These aren't just strictly possession guys.
Joe C. (Centralia, IL)
Why don't we use the fullback more? I know we don't have a true fullback that we use.But look at what Green Bay does with this. It would help the run game and help protect Luck.Maybe we could turn Turbon into a fullback or draft a good fullback and actually use him like the Pack.
Bowen: I think the Colts do more than a fine enough job in how they handle the use of a fullback. Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle (and even Mo Alie-Cox) give you the versatility of an h-back look when necessary. When those "tight ends" enter the game, they still have a great threat in the passing game, while still having the ability to be a lead blocker. I'd rather have that option, where that trio can line up at fullback, in-line or split out wide on any given play.
Jacob H. (Kirkland, IN)
Kevin, IDK who we take in the first round, but i do know that in the second round we have to target a CB. The CB depth this draft is deep, more than 7 have first round potential. It is my hope that 1 or 2 might still be around when its our turn to draft in the second round, then it'd be like we came away with two first round players in this draft. What do you think?
Bowen: Count me in the group behind the thinking of taking a cornerback early in the draft makes sense. The top-line cornerback personnel on this roster is getting up there in age. Remember, when drafting a quality cornerback, you are also aiding the pass rush. I have no issue in spending a high draft pick on a cornerback in 2017. It addresses a specific position need, while also helping out a pass rush that needs improvement.
Jeffrey K. (Colquitt, GA)
Hey Mr. Kevin I know you want to see the Colts go defensive heavy in the draft as do I but my question is what are the chances of the Colts drafting Carl Lawson or Derek Barnett in the 1st round either one would be great players to our defense or maybe Dalvin Cook to complete our offense his skill set would bring our offense to a new level but I prefer defense we have some guys to build around but we just need to get younger and faster and maybe change the scheme to a 4-3 or just have multiple schemes the defenders in this draft could really improve our defense
Thanks for your time Mr. Bowen have a great day
Bowen: I would think the chances are pretty good the Colts will focus their intentions in the draft to the defensive side of the ball. Now, of course we know that personnel people stick to "take the best player available" approach. But even last year---with an obvious need to bolster the offensive line---we saw four offensive linemen taken in eight picks. That's why I think the Colts will go with more of a defensive focus when draft time rolls around.
Joey K. (New York)
in a disappointing season, I see no reason to be discouraged about this team. yes this is the worst defense we have had in a long time which might be a good thing because there is going to be a total rebuild of it. Pagano even said that this team is not going to be the same next season.
is it reasonable to be optimist about this season and say we were 2 plays away from being 10-6
Bowen: Sure, I guess you could say that. But this is the NFL. You are what your record says you are. Were the Colts a couple of plays away from being 10-6? Yes (look at the close losses to Detroit and @Houston). Were the Colts a couple of plays away from being 6-10? Yes (look at the close wins over San Diego, Chicago, Jacksonville). Optimism for next year is definitely fair, and should rise if/when the upgrades come defensively.
James H. (London)
Hi Kevin, its been a while since my last question! As with most people around this time of year when your team isn't in contention for the Super Bowl, eyes start to wander to all the potential draft permutations... I've just seen the younger Watt brother TJ deciding he is applying for draft eligibility. Given the colts need for a pass rusher and looking at TJ's sack numbers for 1 season this would seem like an obvious lock for the Colts... would he fall that far and what are your thoughts?
Bowen: Based off the very, very early Mock Drafts I've seen, the name T.J. Watt is much closer to a second-round pick, than the middle of Round One. Linebacker is a major need for this team, so the Colts are going to do due their diligence on Watt. Right now, it looks like Watt could be more of a realistic pick in the middle of the second round, versus the middle of the first.