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).Ethan W. (Fort Wayne, IN)
First off I would just like to say thank you. I'm currently deployed with the Air Force, your posts and answers help break up the monotony and give me plenty to think about. Just wanted you to know that you help the troops even if you don't know it. I'll just ask one offensive and one defensive question.
- On offense do you see anything that would suggest they are trying to go with plays that develop faster? The O-line did well at the end of the year but they can only do so much with constant 7 step drops. I would like to see them with more quick slants. Maybe bring Mack into an intermediate slot position out of the backfield to take advantage of some OLBs.
- With the addition of Hooker and a press corner in Wilson do you see them moving to a Cover 3 or Cover 1 press with (hopefully) Geathers in the box as a primary formation?
Thanks again for what you do.
Bowen: Ethan, that means a ton to me. Thank you for your service and I'm pleased to offer a small distraction for you and your fellow troops. Hope to hear from you more often. 1. I think we have to start seeing more of this. Yes, the Colts have tremendous speed at wideout and the deep ball is something Luck does quite well. But it's a lot of pressure on the o-line to hit those major chunk plays. I agree with you in that this thinking is where Marlon Mack comes into play. Can Mack be a guy where an extended hand off via a quick swing pass turns into a weapon for this offense? I think it can, and those sorts of plays would also aid the offensive line. 2. This is something that Darius Butler was pointing out a couple of weeks back. Butler believes that the Colts have the personnel to mix their coverages into game plans. I do think the addition of Hooker allows the Colts to experiment with what they do at the back end. Having Hooker roam back there is a must and should improve the takeaways number for this team in 2017.
Matt B. (Windsor, UK)
My question is around the new roster cut-down period, with teams having to cut around 35/40 players at once. This means that there is going to be a lot of talent going on the market in quick succession.
1) How normal/likely is it that we will pick up someone who gets cut from another team?
2) Will our scouts be looking at other teams and players that could potentially be cut?
Bowen: It's going to make for a really, really chaotic day of cut downs. That's for sure. Some initial thoughts when I heard the 75-man roster cut was gone--meaning just one final cut will come during the preseason, from 95 players to 53, following the final preseason game: How will coaches handle Week Four of the preseason? Will they rest even more guys that they know are going to make the 53-man roster? Will they rest guys that they know they are going to cut, not needing to see any more reps from them? And then just how hectic will that cut down be with 37 guys cut from each team after the preseason finale? It will be really interesting to see how teams handle the cut down and the waiver claims that come right after final cuts. Rest assured, the Colts will definitely be looking to other teams and I would be surprised if they didn't add at least one post-final cut waiver claim.
Brian O. (Memphis)
Hey Kevin. Just wanted to check your opinion on the d-line. I'm thinking if Anderson and Langford can stay healthy all year it could be the best group on the team. Maybe even top 5 in the NFL. What are your thoughts. And also Go Colts of course
Bowen: I do believe the defensive line could be vastly improved. Top five in the NFL is probably a little too lofty, considering the questions you still have in incorporating new guys, and then having Anderson and Langford return to health. Chuck Pagano really likes what he has on the defensive line in 2017. The Colts have various body types that should allow them to be more versatile with their personnel groupings against the run or pass. The addition of Johnathan Hankins could really be the difference for the defense in 2017, which leads into our next question…
Bob M. (Milwaukee)
Kevin, ESPN listed three Colts as most influential to the success of the 2017 team: Andrew, Pagano & Hooker. My choices are Andrew, Hankins...and T.Y. Who are your three?
Bowen: This is an interesting question. Luck is obvious. I do like the Hooker pick, but you could also go with a Vontae Davis. I understand why they went with Chuck Pagano. How about Ted Monachino? How quickly can Monachino get the defense up to speed and improve the pass rush in his second season as coordinator? There's so many new faces on that side of the ball that he's going to be tasked with quite the challenge from a mental intake standpoint in trying to mesh his personnel.
Andrew G. (Fort Wayne, IN)
You know what I've always wondered? Why are we still in the AFC South? Doesn't make sense. We should be in the North and this is how we get there. A 3 team exchange:
Indianapolis -> AFC North
Baltimore -> AFC East
Miami -> AFC South
Our travel would be way simpler and the geography just makes sense this way. Do you know why we're in the South? Someone should do something. Maybe Mr. Irsay can bring up at the next owners meeting.
Bowen: I think it comes down to rivalries and trying to maintain some tradition within divisions. You have the same thing in the NFC. Why is Dallas in the NFC East? I believe the want to have some tradition still throughout the league, even after expansion, is why you see the divisions aligned the way they are in 2017.
Tyler S. (Columbus, IN)
Any chance the Colts bring in free agent TE Gary Barnidge to bolster that position? Maybe towards training camp? I think he could add some depth at that spot.
Bowen: At the age of 31, Gary Barnidge still had 55 catches in playing all 16 games last season. I do think the Colts could be in the running for another tight end later this offseason. Who is the No. 3 tight end? We know Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox are the top two guys. Is it newcomer Brandon Williams? Would the team want more of a blocking option to complement those two? If we are talking back end of the roster guys, I look at the No. 3 tight end as something really up for grabs.
Kenny R. (Ankeny, IA)
With all the excitement around Marlon Mack lately, it got me wondering... Did Frank Gore scout this year? With Gore being around the game so long I would think he would have a good grasp on what to look for.
Bowen: I asked Frank Gore this very question after the Colts drafted Marlon Mack in late April. Gore doesn't "scout" per say, but he definitely watches college tape of guys. He didn't offer too much on Mack, but I'm eager to hear Gore's thoughts once camp gets underway.
Corey G. (Indianapolis)
What's goin on Kevin,thanks for everything you do for Colts nation,couple quick questions and maybe a statement,Mr Ballard has said he will play the best guy no matter where you come from and I love that,that's opportunity,we gotta lotta good guys on the d-line,and me personally I would never put Big Hank at nose tackle,he's too beasty,gotta let him dominate one on one,Big Grove on the other hand,big Al,I'm wit it,they're noses if you feel me,Josh Boyd,who I like,T.Y I like,and even David Parry,just not at nose,I don't think Kendall is gonna start,but everybody else does,too much talent around him,my question is,are you as tired of hearing other sports reporters saying that we are soft,even though we have snagged nothing but hungry,opportune driven players as I am,#Chris Ballard is a BEAST
Bowen: I'm not sure if people are coming out and saying the Colts are "soft." Whatever label you want to offer the defense, that side of the ball has to get better. Period. It's a unit that ranked 30th in total defense last season. With the defensive line, I look at the team's best three linemen as Johnathan Hankins, Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson. That's why I think Hankins could be the starting nose. The Colts have quality options outside of the nose tackle position, whereas Hankins could be more of a natural nose, compared to the other options on the roster. We will see when Training Camp rolls around, when Langford gets back on the field, just how the defensive line personnel will shake out.
Victor M. (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Hi Kevin, hope you are doing well
First, I wanna say thank you to the Colts Nation, they almost always ask something I was thinking about during the week.
To the question: recently the league decided to be more open to celebrations and stuff, but for me that rule never made sense. I'm from other country, and that certainly is factor, but I always thought that excessive celebration and taunting were part of the game. The guys go head to head against 300 pounds men and get hit every week, but they can't handle the other team dancing? I agree with that part of the rule that punishes celebrations that emulate weapons and/or violence acts and I dislike very much that T.O. on the Cowboys Star (Run half of the field to step on the opponent is to much, and isn't spontaneous or even funny) but I like all the other things (including Randy Moss in GB), because it has a psychological impact, it adds another dimension to the game, it is part of the mental chess. Once at the end of a game a reporter asked to the brazilian goalkeeper of the 2002 World Champion team how he would handle the mockery of the week after his club had an embarrassing loss and his response was "I'm gonna take it, if you don't wanna be mocked, don't loose the game", and I agree 100% with him.
What's your opinion about big celebrations?
Bowen: Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate. That's my thoughts. The NFL is an entertainment business. When these guys score, let them have their 10-to-15 seconds of glory. I'm very glad the owners and commissioner decided to loosen up the policing on celebrations. These guys play with so much emotion and passion that it's okay for them to let that out after a big play/score. Sports are supposed to be fun. Let them celebrate.
John K. (Syracuse, NY)
Hello Again Kevin, good job with the mailbag. I have another quick question, Being that our previous regime was a timing based offense with the passing game, I know that Peyton Manning and his receiver used to spend a lot of time playing pitch and catch with the receivers running their route tree's before the games and many times after practice. I'm curious if Andrew Luck does the same thing? Do they do the same thing for preparation before the game and put in extra time to get their timing and communications in sync?
Bowen: When Luck was healthy from 2012-14, he was able to go through a pre-game routine. I don't recall much of one the last two years, as his workload was certainly scaled back for a variety of injuries. I know Luck has also been one to get together with his pass catchers in the offseason during the quiet period between minicamp (mid-June) and Training Camp (late July).
Ethan H. (Fort Myers, FL)
Why do you think Andrew luck was ranked 50 and Cam Newton was ranked 44 of the top 100 when cam newton had a terrible season?
Bowen: You could have a full mailbag arguing about the NFL Network rankings. My guess on why Newton over Luck: Newton is just a year removed from being the league's MVP and playing in the Super Bowl. Newton's name you hear much more than Luck. That's my reasoning for why some people might have had Newton higher on their list than Luck. Trying to think about the rationale for how players ranked their fellow peers will make your head explode. Don't fret over it.
Jack M. (Huntington, IN)
Hi Kevin! All of us Colts fans want to thank you for the hard work that you do by giving your opinion on certain topics.
So my first question is that could Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers be a top safety duo in a couple of years with training and less injuries?
Could Henry Anderson turn into maybe a 10+ sack guy in the future?
And finally when do you think Adam Vinatieri will retire?
And thank again for everything you do!
Bowen: 1. I certainly think they could. Their games appear to complement each other really, really well. I'm sure I speak for a lot of fans in saying I'm eager to see them playing together here in 20107. 2. A double-digit sack season for a 3-4 defensive end is a lot. I do like Anderson's potential, but I see him more around a handful of sacks a season. Remember, there's plenty of rotation along the defensive line and Anderson could be in and out of the sub packages for passing downs. 3. I see Vinny retiring after the 2018 season, at the earliest. That's when he should break all of the NFL's major kicking records. Once Vinny does that, I'm not sure what else there is to achieve. The 2017 season is a contract year for Vinny, at the age of 44.
Gage M. (Danville, IL)
This might be a difficult question to answer. Last year we drafted a "LT" in the 3rd round. This year we drafted a "RT" in the 4th round. With this being said that "LT" has made some quality starts at "RT" and trying to improve on his pass protection this off season . On to the 4th round "RT", the colts are trying to mold him to fit the "RT" position. Now on to the real question... Do we possible see a release of Anthony Castonzo and see Le'Raven Clark slide over to "LT" and Banner start at "RT". This is just a "so what would happen" type of question. I know this is kind of far fetched but understand I keep up with the colts everyday and think of stuff like this. You are a very lucky person to work for the Colts organization. I'm 21 and would love to be apart of it! Have a great day Mr. Bowen! #GOCOLTS
Bowen: I understand the reasoning for the question, but I don't think it's going to happen in the immediate future. Anthony Castonzo, 28, still is a quality left tackle. There's no need to rush him out of Indy. Zach Banner, this year's fourth-round pick, is no guarantee to be a Day One contributor, so let him develop some and grow into a re-tooled body. I cannot see why the Colts would release Castonzo anytime soon.
Devin C. (Edgerton, OH)
My question is about the wide receiver group, specifically Phillip Dorset. I'm hoping he can turn it around in Year 3 and be worthy of the first round pick we used on him in 2015. However, If things don't work out with him, and he fails to deliver this season, how do you see the Colts handling this? Could they stay with Hilton, Moncrief, and Aiken? Or should they dive into free agency or the draft to find that No. 3 receiver, or even No. 2 receiver if Moncrief doesn't work out either??
Thanks for your time!
Bowen: The Colts are going to have to some decisions to make for the future at receiver. Donte Moncrief is in a contract year. I fully expect Moncrief to play well in 2017 and earn another contract. Dorsett is more of the Wild Card. He's under contract through 2018, and has a team option for 2019 that the Colts must decide upon next offseason. If Dorsett ends up not being part of the future here in Indianapolis, I think Chester Rogers is an option to possibly fill that role. Rogers is kind of a forgotten man in this discussion. Dorsett will have a chance to impact Chris Ballard's thinking with a strong 2017 campaign.
Chris E. (South Wales, United Kingdom)
With the news the colts have now signed Christine Michael at RB, how do you see the depth chart at this position panning out? Personally I would see Gore as RB1 unless this is the year father time finally catches up on him but behind that it would be hard to separate the other guys as they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Currently, there's no real stand out RB2 in my book. Also I can't help but notice that we kept 4 running backs on the roster last year, and what with Gore, Turbin, Mack and now Michael on the roster, do you think Josh Ferguson could be cut unless he has a hugely impressive camp?
Thanks Kev, go colts!
Bowen: I still fully expect Frank Gore to be the starter until Father Time (or a rare injury) catches up to him. You are right that, the Colts did have four running backs on their 53-man roster last year. If it's four this year, I guess it would come down to Michael or Ferguson for that final spot. Who knows what Michael has right now legs wise, but he was productive for stretches of last year. Right now, I see Ferguson as the outside man, looking in. I still think Michael is going to have to show a lot to supplant the expected roles for Robert Turbin and Marlon Mack.
Ed K. (Beloit, WI)
Kevin I keep ready that Andrew is rehabbing just fine which is great but my question is when he gets back to throwing how much time will it take to get his arm strength back and how much time will it take to be in tune with his receivers? If hes just going to be able to throw during training camp is that enough time?
Bowen: That's a great, great question. And one that's tough to answer. When Luck has returned from injury before, he's been outstanding in his first game back. Now, this injury and recovery time period is immensely longer than what he's had to deal with before. If Luck can get back to throwing to some degree by the first week of August, I think that should be enough time. That would give Luck a full month to ramp things up before the Colts take on the Rams on Sept. 10.
Leo B. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Hi Kevin. I've seen many analists making bold predictions about pretty much anything all over the season. So I'm making mine for Colts next season: Kamar Aiken will end the season as our WR2. Tarrell Basham and Marlon Mack will end the season as starters. Obviously, these predictions are not considering any "garbage time" on week 17 or injuries. They will earn these spots on field. What do you think? What are yours bold predictions? Regards.
Bowen: Those are some bold claims, especially of the rookie starters. What are my bold predictions? Nothing really jump to mind. I think the fifth-round picks ILB-Anthony Walker and CB-Nate Hairston are two guys that could really, really challenge for playing time. Not sure if they will do enough to get into the starting defense (nickel position for Hairston), but I think they will push the starters. I wish I had some juicy takes. I do see Mack being the potential difference for this offense. However, I see him being used situationally.
Sean M. (Dublin, Ireland)
My question is: Which newly added free-agent do you think will have the biggest impact between Hankins, Simon, Sheard and Spence?
Bowen: That's a tough question. I'm going to go with Hankins at 1A and Sheard at 1B. You could easily flip flop those two, but I'll go with the guy in the middle of the defense, at the first line of defense, as the tiebreaker. John Simon is probably just behind those two guys.
Larry G. (California)
Who will be returning kicks for the Colts next season? Last year it was Quan Bray and Jordan Todman when Bray got hurt, but it seems unlikely that one or both make the roster this season. With the recent signing of Christine Michael, and I doubt the Colts will keep more than 4 running backs, so Todman is probably out. Bray on the other hand may make it as a WR, but he'd be competing with Chester Rogers, who was a pretty good punt returner last season. So, who do you think will win between Rogers and Bray, or will they both make the roster? If Bray wins, who would take his duties if he gets hurt again? If Rogers wins, would he take on the kick return duties as well? Thanks.
Bowen: If the season started tomorrow, I don't see how you keep Chester Rogers off this roster. The guy has made plays ever since his rookie preseason in 2016. He has potential at receiver, and that's not something we've seen from Quan Bray. I do think Bray is a very good return guy, but is there room on the 53-man roster for just purely a return specialist? My guess would be Rogers, or one of the backup running backs would handle the kick return duties with the receiver position so crowded.
Evan B. (Ohio)
Hey Kevin, I was just wondering who you have winning the Finals, Cavs or Warriors?
Bowen: I would love to see the Cavs get it done for a second straight year. Personally, I'm all in on LeBron James and his journey to be one of (if not THE) greatest player of all time. Not a great start for the Cavs in Game One, but it's a long series. If I was a betting man, the Warriors in 5 or 6 would look really good though.
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for all your hard work. I've got a few over-unders for you about the upcoming season:
A) 2.5: number of games Andrew Luck will miss due to injury/rehab.
B) 7.5: number of offensive linemen who will start a game over the course of the year.
C) 38.0: percent of defensive snaps that Tarell Basham will play.
D) 3.5: number of interceptions caught by Malik Hooker.
E) 10.5: number of games that would be needed to win the AFC South.
And just for fun, could you rank these in terms of confidence? Thanks, love the work you're doing!
Bowen: A. Under. B. Under. I'll say 7 starting linemen. C. I'll say just a tick under. D. Over. E. Over. I think it will be 11 wins. The confidence in my picks: A, D, E, C, B. I must admit, this was a tough one.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.