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).
Matt G. (Indianapolis)
This one will be short and sweet. Given Dwayne Allen's history with staying healthy, do you really think us granting him a big payday was a good idea? To be honest, when we dropped Fleener and signed Allen over the offseason I was pretty upset about it. I will admit that now I think we made the right choice on who to keep, but can Allen stay healthy? Are there any clauses in his contract regarding staying healthy?
Bowen: I went back and watched the play where Dwayne Allen suffered the ankle injury. He's simply blocking Jadeveon Clowney and that engaged duo pushes Allen into a pile of bodies where he gets rolled up on. It's a play that just seems so unpredictable and any guy in his situation would have suffered the same sort of injury. When the Colts brought back Dwayne Allen, they made it clear that his specific skill set was what Rob Chudzinski's offense desired. A blocking aspect of that was certainly factored in. If the Colts would have kept Coby Fleener instead of Allen, would the blocking be worse? Would Jack Doyle be playing this type of role in the receiving game? I'm not sure the exact details of the contract and if any injury provisions lie in there. However, for what the Colts were looking for, the re-signing of Allen made sense especially with the idea that Doyle could handle a much bigger role, which he has done so far.
Ben L. (Florida)Hey Kevin, following the Houston loss and with Tennessee on The Horizon Sunday and the Chiefs after that before the bye in Week 10, what do the Colts have to do with a Weak Offensive Line that was trying to get better in the off-season but not the case, and luck holding the ball too long? Can our offense put something together in the coming weeks before the bye to win some games?
Bowen: Well, they are going to have to. I think an aspect the Colts have to rely on this week (and again the next two weeks, before the bye) is the run game. Frank Gore is on pace to run for more than 1,100 yards this season. The run game production has been pretty consistent the past few weeks. The Colts need to lean on that right now with the injuries at the receiver and tight end positions.
Brandon D. (Indianapolis)
Hello Kevin, First time submission here. I see in articles how Luck is holding onto the ball too long but now the question is are the wide receivers getting off the line quick enough. Not sure the problem is with the speed...I'm wondering if time needs to be put in route running and how to counter physical cornerbacks? Also should the Colts look to draft a big possession receiver who may not be overly fast but good getting off the line and making easy catches for the QB?
Bowen: Welcome, Brandon. You are right in that Luck holding the ball too long certainly doesn't fall all on No. 12's shoulders. The receivers definitely need to do their part in trying to create earlier separation and giving Luck options to find guys before that pass rush gets home. Those wideouts have to win their one-on-one matchups and do their part in helping out Luck/the offensive line. If you are looking for a big possession receiver, just wait a little longer. Donte Mocnrief should be coming back soon from his shoulder injury. That's your 6-2, 220-pound target to make plays on 50/50 balls.
Gregory J. (Wilmington, DE)
Hey KB. I've been a fan every since 99 and all that I can remember that we was and did better in a 4-3 defense. Why not Go back to that? It seems like the players we have is a 4-3 defensive player but transitioning to a 3-4. Do you think we would Go back to that and Get more defensive players this draft. Get younger and better.
Bowen: I don't see any defensive overhaul happening. Ted Monachino did stress when he took the job for folks not to harp too much on the shape of the scheme. He said the Colts would be multiple in the "front looks" the defense would play. But I don't think the Colts will be shifting to a 4-3 defense soon, given how drastic of a change they had to make back in 2012, when going from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
James H. (England)
thanks for answering my last question, but I'm back with another draft related one.
Given the start the Colts have had, should the season end today, we would hold the number 6 overall pick in the draft, that being said I've had a look into some of the top prospects in this years draft, the names that sprung out at me that also meet the needs of the team were Myles Garrett, Takkorist McCinley, Jonathan Allen and Christian McCaffery.
My question is out of those names who would you take at #6?
Bowen: Well, I don't think Mr. Garrett is falling to No. 6. So I would go with the other two pass rushers that you have listed above. When you think about some of the elite pass rushers the Colts have seen/will see in 2016, they have first-round draft history. Denver's Von Miller, Detroit's Ziggy Ansah, Houston's Jadeveon Clowney/Whitney Mercilus, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Oakland's Khalil Mack. The need and the value match up for me in that the Colts will have to think long and hard about taking an edge rusher with their first-round pick next year.
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey, Kevin. Thanks once again for all your hard work. I have another very blunt question for you. Some people point to the weakness of the AFC South and rightly point out that the Colts could still make the playoffs. My question is... How much should we value that?
Don't get me wrong, there is pride in making the dance after a 16 game season. But let's look at the best case scenario. If we are VERY, VERY generous and say the Colts sweep every last division game, then beat KC, the Jets, AND Green Bay and lose only to the Vikings, Raiders, and Steelers... In that BEST case scenario, the Colts go 9-7, hope the Texans fall apart, and hope to enter the playoffs with no realistic chance of winning a Super Bowl. That is the ceiling for this year. The floor is much, much lower. I suspect a 7-9 season in the middle is most likely.
The goal of every NFL team should be to build a roster to compete for a Super Bowl. Simply put, this roster is not built for that challenge. Why, then, are people putting up "making the playoffs" as some magical goal that will make this season worthwhile? Especially when it only emboldens Jim Irsay to double down on January's questionable contract extensions for Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson.
Bowen: I don't think anyone believes "making the playoffs" is the gold standard for this organization. Making runs in the postseason, and ultimately winning Super Bowls is the goal. Of course, before any thought of that talk becomes reality in 2016, punching your ticket into the dance must occur. And right now, the Colts are certainly on the outside looking in at a possible playoff berth. Any playoff appearance should be looked at like an opportunity to reach the ultimate goal, not like, 'Okay, we are just playing with house money now.' I know Jim Irsay doesn't view a playoff berth as the ceiling for a particular season.
Michael S. (Ft. Wayne, IN)Hi Kevin, thanks for all your hard work answering our questions.
Does anyone ever bring up the losing strategy of milking the clock early in the second half? As soon as we have a lead after the middle of the the third quarter we instantly play more conservatively (see the lose to the jags, texans and many others) especially on offense with two straight runs that leads to a 3 and out. The winning teams dont pretend that a touchdown lead with 22 minutes of playing time left is a victory in the bag. The patriots and all the teams with a good qb stick to what they do best and throw the ball. Continuing to make the other teams defense stop their best attack. And for the colts with luck and 2 100yrd rushers in his tenure that would also be an aerial attack.
Bowen: Michael, not sure I would agree with that. On the first drive of the second half, the Colts had three passes along with a key holding penalty. Then their next drive of the third quarter saw the offense stall out in the red zone after a stuffed QB sneak on third-and-one and then Luck getting sacked on a fourth-and-one. The run game has actually been a strength of this team in recent weeks. What hurt the Colts on Sunday was the missed opportunity late in the first half. The Colts were up 13-3 and Andrew Luck threw a late half pick, eliminating any chance to add to that lead (see below).
Matthew H. (Iowa)I personally think the colts need to be more aggressive later in the games if they have the lead. I think this has been part of the reason all of the colts games have been so close in the pagano-luck era. We have very rarely seen the colts blow a team out in a game and I think it's because we are either comming back from an early deficit, or we are too conservative when we have the lead. What are your thoughts?
Just curious, late in 4th quarter of the colts Texans game did they ever consider a pat mcafee field goal? Did they think it was too much of a risk if he were to miss it?
Bowen: Matthew, I wrote earlier in the week that at times we almost scrutinize the end of games too much. Attention should also be paid to the end of the first half. You were up 13-3 in Houston territory. A chance to go up potentially three scores with the ball to start the third quarter was very possible. An Andrew Luck pick followed and then a holding penalty on the first drive of the third quarter slowly brought Houston back into the game with the lead not growing at all. Those are the opportunities you cannot let get away. When you have a chance to put a team away, you have to do it. With the field goal talk, that thought did cross my mind briefly late in the fourth quarter last week. It would have been a 66-yard field goal try for Pat McAfee. I think the risk was a little much there. It's not like you were trying to tie the game in that situation. Then I could understand the try. But not necessarily in this situation. A miss, and you would have given the ball to Houston in great field position with still enough time to move the ball towards a closer attempt.
Jack Y. (Illinois)
I was curious if the Colts would potentially go after anyone before the trade deadline. I heard rumors that Joe Haden was somebody the Browns were looking to trade to aquire draft picks for. I would like to see this happen, as it could really finalize our secondary and allow us to focus on the pass rush and linebackers on our defense. Is this possible and do we have the cap room? Thanks,
Bowen: The NFL trade deadline comes a week from Tuesday (Nov. 1). I don't think the Colts are going to be THAT active around the trade deadline, especially at the level you are looking for with Joe Haden. Upcoming drafts for the Colts are so, so important. The Colts have to hit on their future picks, particularly the premium ones. They need to have young contributors play significant roles on their rookie deals. That has to happen for this team to sustain the success they've had since the turn of the century. Again, I don't think the Colts will be wheeling and dealing like you are hoping for in the next couple of weeks.
Carl T. (Phoenix)
I know know that injuries are hurting the Colts defence, but do you see the defence be more aggressive, and do you see the defence start to help the offense out late in games. At this point in the season, it seems the defence has let some games slip away from them at the end.
Bowen: For the Colts to get back into any serious playoff consideration, the defense has to start finishing off these games. Sunday was a golden opportunity, with a 23-9 lead, where just one more stop would have this team currently atop the AFC South. If the aggression you're talking about leads to more interceptions/pressure, than by all means the Colts should be for it. After six weeks, the Colts rank near the bottom of NFL teams in sacks and interceptions.