Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: When Will Rookie Cornerback D'Joun Smith Return To The Field?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about the pitch count for Frank Gore, the Colts penalty problems and the flow of the Colts offense.

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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).

Here is this weekend's collection:Myra D. (Indianapolis)

While I admit it took a good portion of the 24 he rule get get over The Play, it was ONE play. I'm more concerned about the many plays that burned us because of penalties. I don't understand why. Are we just out matched that much, were there big rule changes? It can't still be the refs calling too many? Are there any disincentives for players like team fines or built into contracts? If not, maybe the players need to sit down alone and pledge something, even laps of shame at practice before moving on.

Bowen: Myra, Chuck Pagano was asked this very question earlier this week. Here is what Pagano had to say about the Colts needing to clean up their current penalty issues: "The penalties, we have to get it corrected. It's hard to overcome first-and-15. We had false starts, first-and-20. Have a nice run play, a positive play called back because of a hold. What happens is guys strain and you got difficult matchups at times. You have to stick with your fundamentals and technique. That was one of my major points (Monday), don't ever get away from your fundamentals and technique. There are going to be ebbs and flows in the game. There were times where we were rolling and doing well and then the momentum shifts. When you're struggling a little bit during the course of a game, say that third quarter, you can't just throw your fundamentals and your technique out the window. That's what you've got to stick with and try to get back to that. If we do that on a consistent basis then we can negate some of that stuff."

Eric A. (Indianapolis)

What I have seen through the first 6 weeks of the season is an under utilized running game, Luck trying to do more than he should, and generally a team searching for it's identity. In the two games that Hasselbeck played he looked good because he took what the defense gave him and won two games. It looked like Luck was going this direction in the NE game until he tried going vertical after they got down two scores; after that the pocket collapsed and there was no check down out of the Belicheck blitz that was sure to come in that stage of the game.

My question is: what is the teams identity going to be? A running team? An uptempo team? The remaining schedule is pretty tough and they're going to have to figure some things out fairly quickly

Bowen: Ideally, the Colts want the identity of being a team that can ground and pound when you need to and also air it when that opportunity presents itself. Pep Hamilton has always preached that how the Colts attack is going to be dictated by what Andrew Luck sees at the line of scrimmage. That first half against New England we saw the Colts move the ball consistently on the ground and also find success through the air. If the Colts can stay away from the self-inflicted mistakes on offense, that should allow for this offense to build upon the momentum the unit created the past two weeks. Coming into 2015, I think the popular opinion was the Colts would lean on the pass. Yet, Frank Gore is making people think twice about putting all their eggs into that basket.


Dave H. (Sebring, FL)

THE PATS AND COLTS GAME, THE PATROITS WERE HITTING WRS, AND TES, AT THE LINE AND SLOWING DOWN THERE ROUTE RUNNING. GIVING THE DEFENCE MORE TIME!AND EVEN WITH THE BAD PLAY, WE COULD HAVE WON, IF OUR DEFENCE DID THE SAME AS THE PATS DID? ALSO LUCKS HAS GOT TO START HITTING WRS,TES ON A THREE STEP DROP TO ALLOW GUYS TO MAKE MORE PLAYS? IF TEAMS ARE HITTING US WE GOT TO HIT THEM BACK TO WIN? AND WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE GORE AND BRADSHAW CARRING THE ROCK MORE AND HAVE A 1OO YDS RUSHING????

Bowen: As far as Gore cracking the 100-yard mark, it wouldn't shock me at all if it happened this weekend. Chuck Pagano talked on Monday how he did abandon the run game a bit earlier than he should have against New England. Once the Colts went down 13, Pagano felt that the tempo had to follow what the Colts used in their comeback against the Titans. The Saints are ranked 30th in the NFL against the run so this weekend could be where we see Gore end the Colts 46-game drought of not having a 100-yard rusher.

Paul M. (Middletown, NY)

Hi Kevin; I could only watch the first 1/2 of Sunday's game,due to a very early alarm I was impressed with most of what I saw.I thought that on TY'S TD catch that as luck released the ball Jamie Collins appears to be very close to grabbing Luck's facemask but no remarks and no up close replay. I thought it appeared Luck's head got turned ,what do you think or did yo hearb anything?

Bowen: I have not heard anything regarding a Collins' facemask penalty. I did go back and look at the replay and it does look like Collins' hand at least grazes Luck's facemask, if not pulling it all the way to the left (the replay angle cuts away as Collins' hand gets into Luck's facial region). Putting the facemask-talk aside, that was a terrific play by Luck and T.Y. Hilton. We broke down that play this week in our "Film Breakdown".

Rich I. (Martinez, CA)

How is D'Journ Smith progressing and when is he eligible to return from IR? Thanks

Bowen: Rich, earlier this week Steve Andress had this update on Smith. The rookie cornerback is eligible to practice at the end of next Friday. He can return to game action when the Colts come back from their bye week, on Nov. 22 (at Atlanta).

Simon B. (Greenville, NC)

In a recent column Coach Pagano stated that he still intends to have Frank Gore on a pitch count . Is that really wise considering the fact that Gore is the type of runner whose effectiveness increases with more carries ?

Bowen: Chuck Pagano was asked this very question during his Friday media session. Take a look at Friday's notebook for a more detailed answer. To sum up what Pagano said, Gore is going to remain on a pitch count, which was a season-long total that was pre-determined at the start of the year. When you look at Gore's carry-number here in Indianapolis, versus San Francisco, he's averaging a little less than two carries fewer. So his workload has shrunk hardly at all and he's currently running at a 4.5-yard per carry clip, which is higher than what he had his final two seasons in San Francisco.

Colton S. (Palmer, AK)

Okay so this may be a bit of an overreaction but what is up with the offense? I get our offensive line is weak and but putting Mewhort on the left i think helped, but I feel with the playmakers that we have that we are getting out coached or out game planned with many college coaches starting to regress in the NFL is Pep Hamilton getting to predictable?

Bowen: This was a popular question after two weeks of the 2015 season. However, I wasn't really expecting it right now. The Colts offense is coming off its best two games of the season and seems to be showing more than a few flashes of the unit we expected during the offseason. Right now, the biggest area holding this offense completely back are those yellow flags. The Colts have committed the third most penalties of any team in the NFL through six weeks. Holding penalties in particular have negated some major offensive gains. If those are quieted down, this offense should begin to flourish.

Taylor S. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin, how do the Colts plan on stopping Ben Watson across the middle of the field? It seems that they don't even try to stop that play. Brees is a smart guy, he will see that in film study.

Bowen: What a performance by Saints tight end Ben Watson last Thursday. In his 12th NFL season, Watson turned the clock way back with 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. Before that game, Watson had averaged three catches a game in the first five weeks. The result is just a typical Drew Brees type of outing. It's so hard to game plan for the Saints skill guys because Brees spreads it around so well. The Colts did a decent job against Rob Gronkowski last week. I don't see them giving Watson the same attention, but they will certainly know where No. 82 is after last week's performance against Atlanta.

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