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).
Andrew G. (Fort Wayne, IN)
It seems one of the most hotly debated topics of the recent seasons has been the offensive line, rightly so. However, I have disagreed with just about every view so far, let me tell you why. Nobody is mentioning Denzelle Good in the starting lineup and when they/you do, it's at guard. Good needs to play at tackle, that is where he has been most effective.
The OL starters should be the following: LT-Costanzo LG-Mewhort C-Kelly RG-Haeg RT-Good.
Good is a big, long guy and when he filled in his rookie season when Reitz went down, he played exceptionally for someone of his background. Now, he and Clark are roughly the same size with Good being slightly heavier, but I think that's significant because last season I saw Clark get pushed around a lot. So did Good but that was from his guard spot where he just never looked comfortable. It was the same when they tried Mewhort at right tackle, he was ineffective but at guard he's a beast.
Don't get me wrong, I think they played well at the end of last season and certainly continuity is huge, but at the same time they need to let guys play in their natural positions and develop. Not everyone is Joe Haeg.
I don't know, maybe I'm not seeing what others are seeing. I guess I don't really have a question, just maybe get your thoughts on my view.
Bowen: Le'Raven Clark is 6-5 and 319 pounds. Denzelle Good is 6-5 and 355 pounds. Their body types are very different. Clark definitely has the natural tackle frame, with exceptionally long arms that the Colts want to see out on the edge trying to get hands on pass rushers. I agree that Good showed some good things in his time at tackle. I see him right now as the backup swing tackle, with the ability to play guard or tackle when needed. Another year of strength training for Clark and I think he will be able to more than hold his own on the edge. In more than 200 snaps last year, Clark allowed just one hit and zero sacks. That's why I see the arrow pointing up on Clark at right tackle.
Grant L. (Jasper, IN)
Hi Kevin. My question is about your optimism on the Colt's O-line. From reading your opinion of them I've found myself thinking "Are we really watching the same team". You've been talking about how the line seems solid and that it is okay that we didn't sign anyone, but I'm just not seeing it. Luck got hit so much that I'm afraid he will be forced to end his career early due to injury. Don't get me wrong, I am totally willing to trust the line, and I trust Ballard. But, it would help me if you could explain what you are seeing that I'm not. Thanks as always.
Bowen: What I saw late last year was three rookies in the starting lineup, holding their own against some of the league's better fronts. I think that trio reaching their second years and having another season of learning under Joe Philbin will further their growth and development. Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort are solid on the left side. If the youngsters on the right side can take the next step, I do believe this line can become a much more consistent unit. When evaluating the line, I'm not looking at all of 2016. I'm looking at the right side combination of Joe Haeg at right guard and Le'Raven Clark at right tackle, which is how the Colts ended last year. I expect them to start together in 2017, so that's why I see improvement in the trenches.
Troy C. (Greenwood, IN)
In wake of the L.A. stadium release being pushed back a year, and Tampa Bay being awarded Super Bowl LV. What is the likelihood of Indianapolis bidding for another Super Bowl? LVII being the next available Big Game.
Bowen: The next five Super Bowls look like this: Minneapolis, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles. I see Indy in the next wave of bidding. When Indianapolis bid for the 2018 Super Bowl (awarded to Minneapolis) they were finalists with New Orleans. After Minneapolis was awarded, the Indy contingent knew they would have to wait a few years before the Midwest became a viable option again. In my opinion, that time is coming. You do not have new stadiums to worry about (like Atlanta and LA) receiving a bid. We have not heard anything from Indy about definitely bidding in the coming years, but I think they would be inclined. Maybe if Indianapolis gets the 2021 NBA All-Star Game it would impact if/when Indy bids again for a Super Bowl.
Jim S. (Carmel, IN)
Hi Kevin, How do you see the new cut down rule eliminating the middle round affecting the pick up of new players? Surely, some talent will fall out when 1100 players lose their jobs in one day.
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.
Scott A. (Orlando)
I've been looking at some of the power rankings lately, and frankly I'm very disappointed. The highest I have seen the team rated is 15th going all the way down to 24th. I think (with a healthy Luck and O-Line that will protect him) we should be at least 10th in the power ranking if not 5th, but I bleed blue. Where do you see our team ranking right now? I think we could have a 12-4 season, what do you think it will be?
Bowen: I have been surprised to see the Colts near the mid-20s of some off-season power rankings. That's surprising to me. This was an 8-8 football team last year. If the offensive line and defense make even the slightest improvements, it should be a team hovering around double-digit wins for sure. I think the Colts are in the 10 or 11 win range right now. The schedule is not too daunting in my eyes.
Josh K. (Ontario, Canada)
Hey Kevin, thanks for your time man. 2 questions.
I have not seen hassan ridgeway in the OTA photos at all, is there any update on his status or a reason why he is not partaking?
Secondly, the most intriguing position group to me right now is the linebacker group and the defensive line. If memory serves me right, we kept around 6 or 7 defensive lineman last year? So im thinking hankins, anderson, langford, ridgeway, mcgill, grover stewart (i know its a reach for mcgill but I just don't think the staff will let an interior pass rusher like that walk away) are locked for the most part.
But where does that leave margus hunt, al woods, PARRY, Josh Boyd...
do you think they may be pushed to keep 7 defensive lineman?
Bowen: With Ridgeway, I have not seen him either in the limited action we've had a chance to watch so far. Hopefully we get an update on his status at next Wednesday's open OTA session. When you analyze the defensive line, the Colts are going to be cutting some quality football players. There's no doubt about that. I just can't see them keeping more than six. The problem with the numbers crunch on the defensive line is that these guys rarely play special teams. So that position group loses some back end of the roster value. My guess is the Colts keep six on the defensive line, meaning they will be letting go of some proven bodies for sure.
Mark M. (Utah)
Hi Kevin, my best "armchair GM" move was to pay whatever we needed to get Janoris Jenkins before last season, who really played well for the giants last year. What do you think is the biggest acquisition the colts should have made but didn't in recent years? What are some armchair GM decisions you would make now or in the next few seasons if it was up to you? As always, thanks for the great work!
Bowen: I think the inability to sign a quality offensive lineman, a definite No. 2 cornerback and another presence on the defensive line are some of the biggest moves that have contributed to the Colts having back-to-back seasons without the playoffs. I would throw pass rusher into this group, but you just don't see a bunch of quality rushers hit the open market.
Jesse K. (New Jersey)
Hey Kevin, How's it going? I want to switch up the question a bit for you today. 90% of the talk has been about revamping our defense, which I get and fully support. That loss to the Lions with 37 seconds left and the loss where we had a two possession lead over the Texans, fully agree with an all our defensive overhaul. But my question is about Andrew Luck, last year with a 28th - 30th ranked line and again being one of the most hit QBs in football, and add on that lingering shoulder problem, he still put up great numbers. I also read that preparing for games with the shoulder took a lot more out of him than normal. My question is, if his shoulder returns to normal, even with or without the offensive line performing, and that defense even takes a tiny leap up, what kind of numbers do you see Luck putting up and could he be in the MVP race. I say yes, we've had two seasons of injured Luck, so the last time we saw him at full go was his third season in the league. I just wonder about how scary Luck could and will be when the pieces finally fall around him.
Bowen: Jesse, I'm doing great. Hoping Mother Nature cooperates on Sunday for the 101st Indianapolis 500. If the Colts do indeed win 11 games, then Luck should be in the MVP chatter. Putting Luck's shoulder injury aside, he had a very solid season in 2016. It was probably the second best individual season of Luck's career. MVP races are so hard to put a finger on. If the Colts win 11 games, but don't earn a bye in the playoffs, you still have four teams higher than the Colts in the standings (2 in the AFC, and probably 2 in the NFC) and those squads are going to have at least a couple of candidates. Nonetheless, if the Colts can hover around a dozen wins, Luck should be in the conversation. This offensive, with improved line play, has the makings to definitely be a top-10 unit.
Michael M. (Indianapolis)
Hi Kevin. I hope you are doing well and finding time to relax amidst all of the news at the start of this season.
I have a quick question (more of a concern) about the injury of Quincy Wilson. Is his non-participation in practice due to the injury being significant or is it more of a move to avoid a more nagging injury?
When I read the report about him, I had flashbacks of D'Joun Smith from a couple years ago and I started panicking. I feel that, with everyone healthy, our secondary could turn into a strength.
As always, thank you for feeding my cravings for Colts news every week!
Bowen: On Wilson, we should get an answer Wednesday. Right now, Chuck Pagano is available just once a week during OTAs. Pagano's next availability will be on Wednesday, when the Colts start their OTAs again. So check back with Colts.com on Wednesday for the update on the important rookie.
Jacob B. (Connersville, IN)
Hey Kevin, I just wondered what you thought about having a college football game in the Indy 500? I know last year U of Tennessee had a game at a speedway park. Do you think IU and Purdue would have a game at the speedway?
Bowen: I LOVE it. My only question is where? Are you ripping up the golf course (there's four holes inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)? I'm not sure there's level enough of ground to have a football field inside there, nor are the stands steep enough for spectator. I love, love the idea but I just think the logistics are too steep.
John K. (Miamisburg, OH)
Hey Kevin, what are the chances the bears release jerrell freeman? If they do, do you think we would pursue him he was a great middle linebacker with us tons of great years. Not really being used for anything in Chicago. Not like a long term thing with him being 30 plus but just a veteran presence to help Antonio Morrison and Anthony walker jr get a better feel for the game rather than being thrown in like we've done in the past to other linebackers?
Bowen: Zero. Jerrell Freeman was one of the most effective inside linebackers in the NFL last year. I would see no reason why the Bears would part ways with him. Yes, he's getting older, but this is still a guy playing at a very, very high level. I would be beyond shocked if the Bears released Freeman.
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