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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will Anyone Record Double-Digit Sacks In 2017?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about Marlon Mack’s role as a rookie running back, the long-term outlook for Andrew Luck and how the Colts might use T.J. Green in 2017.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 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).

Johnny K. (Miamisburg, OH)

Hey Kevin how are you doing today? I saw the 49ers were trying to trade Navarro bowman do you think we would be interested. Tremendous 3-4 inside linebacker with pro bowl talent. Could you possibly see us trading a pick like a 4th round? How do you think Ballard has done on revamping the defense and personal opinions on if you think we will do better this season with getting younger on both sides of the ball?

Bowen: Doing well, Johnny. A player like Bowman I don't see fitting what Ballard is looking for right now. Bowman is rehabbing a really serious injury and turns 29 years old later this month. Plus, giving up a fourth-round pick would be pretty steep, IMO. The Colts have some options at inside linebacker currently on the roster and I expect them to compete. With regards to the entire defense, the upgrades to me are obvious. The Colts have gotten better on that side of the ball. Now, it's a question of having those guys on the same page so the unit isn't too mentally strained come September.

Pedro K. (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

How are you, Kevin? I hope all is well. I imagine you also can't wait for the season to start so we can really see what we've got with that reloaded defense! I'm really expecting Hooker, Wilson and Basham to have an immediate impact - with Basham at least providing some situational pass rush to complement Sheard and Simon's versatility.
My question is regarding the other 3 defensive picks we had. I honestly think all of them have plenty of upside and fell in the draft because of very correctable 'flaws'. Stewart's played vs lesser competition, but dominated as a result, so his size, power and skillset should translate well. Hairston doesn't have a ton of experience and also didn't play against top shelf receivers, but he seems to have enough talent to make it as a solid CB, given he didn't allow a single TD in his last season in college. And Walker Jr apparently fell because some scouts felt got too big and lost some agility to defend those shifty RBs, but with his great football IQ and adequate athleticism I think he'll be fine. My question is, who do you think will be the biggest steal for us, between those 3, both in the long and short terms? Plus do you think that they could fix those flaws and be solid starters in the future?
Thanks again, and GO COLTS!

Bowen: Hey, Pedro. Good question. You really offered a nice description of my thoughts on the trio of Day Three draft picks. There's early playing time available for Hairston and Walker. Both of those guys enter position groups with a starting spot or two up for grabs. Down the road, I'll go with Hairston or Stewart. From a pure upside standpoint, Stewart probably has the highest ceiling with that frame along the defensive line. With Hairston, he just has two years of college experience at cornerback, so there's potential growth in his game as well. I'm intrigued by the prospects for those three defenders.

Jeff S. (Indianapolis)

We still have a couple more years, but when Luck hits that 30 year old mark, do the Colts seek to draft a quarterback to come in and learn. Obviously it will depend on the guys available when that time comes, but looking ahead never hurts.

Bowen: I don't see any reason why you would spend a top-four round pick on a quarterback until Luck is at least 32 or so. As long as Luck is in his prime and you have a capable backup, those draft picks are too precious to 'waste' on a quarterback. If the Colts believe Luck is a 15-year guy in this league, you can be patient in finding the next signal caller.

Robert B. (Brownsburg, IN)

The Colts hold the record for the number of consecutive seasons that an UDFA has made the 53 man roster to start. Do you think this year will continue that streak and your best guess as to whom it would be. 
Thanks forvall your hard work with this f oirum.

Bowen: Yes, it definitely will. Duke long snapper Thomas Hennessy is the team's starting long snapper. So, there's one UDFA on the 53-man roster. Last year you had four on the Week One roster. I could see a running back, tight end and/or a cornerback also being spots to watch of the 18 undrafted free agents.

Alex H. (Indianapolis)

Dear Mr.Bowen,
I really appreciate the mailbag and I thank you for it. I have two questions for you. First off:
1.What do you think our record for the season will be this year?
2.Of the players that we drafted which one are you most looking forward to seeing?
Thanks for your answers and as always #GO COLTS.
Alex H.

Bowen: 1. I see this team right around 10 wins. The biggest things impacting that total is the play of the offensive line and the defense seeing an uptick in the game-changing plays via sacks/takeaways. 2. Either Tarell Basham or Marlon Mack. Can Basham make the transition to being a pass rushing contributor early on? Is Mack the missing ingredient for this offense?

Sean M. (Ireland)

Hey Kevin, my question is, do you think that the Colts have anyone capable of a double-digit sack season, and if so, who would it be?

My best guess would be Jabaal Shears, but I really haven't seen that much of him. Possibly Henry Anderson, even if that seems like a stretch?

Bowen: I'm going to go with Jabaal Sheard. With how much I think the Colts will be leaning on Sheard playing time wise, I believe he has a legitimate shot at being a double-digit sack guy. The Colts would (obviously) greatly benefit from such a season. The pure sack production would be the clearest reason why. But do not forget about the attention that would come from a player offering such disruption. If a pass rusher can emerge early on for the Colts, that's going to force opposing teams to account for that guy with various blocking schemes.

Joseph B. (Kokomo, IN)

Hi Kevin thanks for the mailbag I love reading it all every Wednesday and Saturday... my question this week has to with the fact that our offense is going to be the same as last yr besides Allen of course but I do believe we were a top 10 offense last yr and with the defence only getting younger and better I could see us winning 10,11 maybe even 12 games u think the Colts could have a legitimate chance at a superbowl run or a deep playoff run ...given the talent the have got this yr?

Bowen: It's going to take a lot to supplant New England from the top of the AFC. After the Patriots, I think Pittsburgh and Oakland, and possibly Kansas City are in the next tier. What the Colts have, that OAK and KC don't, is a quarterback with proven playoff success. Still, I see the AFC as the Patriots to lose. But if the defense can make the jump to being a middle of the pack unit, I see the Colts as a playoff team with the chance to win a game or two.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for all your hard work. I wanted to ask your opinion about some divisional position group match-ups. How would you rank these in terms of confidence that we would hold our own?

1) Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus vs. Le'Raven Clark and Joe Haeg. The pass rush battle on the right side of the OL. Probably the biggest mismatch on paper.

2) Lamar Miller vs. Colts LB's. We've seen in the past that shifty RB's give the Colts LB corps fits. Miller alone put up 300 total yards during this series last season.

3) Delanie Walker vs. Colts LB's. A different kind of match-up than Miller, but the LB's are still a weakness. The D can't be fixed entirely overnight, and the LB's had the most quantity, least quality reboot of the unit (relatively speaking). Walker has averaged over 70 yards/game against the Colts over the past 2 years.

4) Titans OL vs. Colts DL. Johnathan Hankins gives us a big boost, but Mariota and Murray's power run offense ran through one of 2016's top O-lines.

5) Jaguars back 4 vs. Colts receivers. Strength against strength. With a healthy Moncrief, I like our pass catchers against most secondaries, but this is a pretty intimidating unit on paper.

Bowen: Love the creativity, Stan. Let's go with 3, 4, 2, 5, 1. It's a totally different linebacker group for the Colts, so I'm going to give them a benefit of at least proving themselves in your scenarios. Also, I think if Hankins, Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson are healthy it could really help things up front.

Nick M. (Long Island, NY)

Hi Mr. Bowen, my question has to deal with Chud's offense for the upcoming season. Last year, we ran maybe the best hurry up offense in the NFL (Besides Rodgers and the Packers) I know Chuck doesn't like doing this all the time because it gives less sideline time for the defense, but do you see us running this more? I feel if we can run this maybe once in the beginning of the first half, it could really give our offense a boost and help prevent slow starts.

Bowen: I'm always a fan of some more pace for the offense. I do think the Colts could use it more in 2017, especially if the offensive line gets established early on. It's hard to ignore how successful the Colts have been in using hurry-up lately. I do think we will see some more of it with Chud entering another year as OC and the personnel not changing too much from last year.

Greg C. (Wilmington, DE)

Hey Kevin, Appreciate the off-season coverage. Keep up the good work! My question is in regards to our defense: with coach Monachino stating that different players had different strengths, does this work against us? That is to say, is there liabilities against a "hurry up" offense, that doesn't allow us to substitute?

Bowen: I understand where the question comes from. I don't think it necessarily works against the Colts. What Monachino is referring to is if an edge rusher excels in getting after the quarterback, that's what he's going to do. They aren't going to ask him to drop into coverage. It's not like the Colts are throwing out a personnel grouping of 7-8 guys known for their run defense, unless the offense has some jumbo package personnel in the game. Remember, if an offense subs, the defense can do. So for the most part, you don't see a huge disparity in personnel offense/defense wise within a game. It's very subtle, when you do.

John K. (Syracuse, NY)

Hello Kevin, thanks for answering my previous question. I have a couple of oddball questions for you.

1) I know we all talk about having the OL gel together in hopes of improving protections and run blocking, in the past I recall other QB's (Peyton included)and some RB's that provide perks from their own pocket for the OL, like a paid vacation for all of them, or buying everyone dinner every week. Does Andrew Luck do this type of thing? Or is it against the CBA?

2) When picking up players from other teams who have been cut and seemingly have slight chance of making a team, Do coaches sign them so they can get information about a teams terminology or formations and specific details about their previous team. (I'll use the Patriots as an example)A few years back, the Patriots picked up Reggie Wayne after he was not resigned, knowing they would be playing the colts, then cutting him, how much do you think they learned about the colts system? Do you think this is a common trend in the NFL? I would think so, I'm sure we have done it also. What are your thoughts on this?

Bowen: 1. I would say Andrew Luck's closest friends on the team reside on the offensive line. They are close to him in the locker room and you often see them chatting together about all sorts of subjects. I know the offensive line gets together every Thursday night during the season for a dinner together. It would not be against the CBA for Luck to pay for a vacation or dinner. 2. This is a good question. With roster spots so precious, I don't think this happens that often. Coaches and systems change so often, what sort of intel would teams be getting? Plus, you don't want your own players doing the same thing when they move on from your team. I don't think it's too much of an issue in the NFL.

Kevin R. (Kalamazoo, MI)

I know this is something impossible to predict but, without any serious injury's in the future, how many years do you think Andrew luck has of playing in the NFL? because i'm worried because Andrew in in his prime but the entire team in kind of behind him in the process to win and contend, so how many more years of quality Andrew do you think we will see? thank you for your time.

Bowen: If that shoulder comes along like the Colts believe it will, I see no reason why Luck can't play 15-some years in the NFL. Look at Drew Brees. He had a very serious shoulder surgery and is still playing at the age of 38. Luck has to start taking fewer hits, but he's got the body build, and passion, to hang in there for quite some time.

Ron H. (Newark, DE)

Hi Kevin,

With the draft over which was very cool to attend in my hometown and the excitement over I can reflect on our teams potential. The group that I am very excited about is the defense mainly the secondary. Butler moving to safety which allows green more Time to develop. Geathers getting health with the additions of Hooker and Wilson a Vontae being Vontae makes me think this group will be a bright spot in the future. Many people question TJ Green's role with the colts or even believes he will be forgotten with the selection of Hooker in the first Rd. I think other wise. Hooker gives us a rangy playmaker in the back end that has been compared to ed Reed (prematurely but still great). Geathers can be moved anywhere but excels in the box enforcing and covering TEs. How does this make life greater for Green? TJ Green excelled in the slot at Clemson and I mean excelled! As a blitzer and as a lengthy sneaky cover guy. The moves at safety allows him to go back to where he feels at home and with butler also excelling in the slot it gives him a great veteran to develop from and time. With the colts using sub packages 65% of the time I can see this trio being a pain In The behind for future offenses

Bowen: What is T.J. Green's role in 2017? I'm not sure there's a question with more unknown regarding a specific player and his usage this coming season than Green. I guess in a dime package he would be on the field with the other defensive backs being (my guess): Vontae Davis, Quincy Wilson, Darius Butler, Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers. I know Chris Ballard likes Green's measureables and the Colts want to use those. But a clear, defined role is tough for me to gauge. Honestly, we probably won't get an answer to this until Training Camp gets underway, when Malik Hooker sees his first time on the field as a Colt.

Allen A. (Ruskin, FL)

Grew up in Kokomo but live near the Tampa Area and watched Marlon Mack at USF for 3 years. This is a very special back that ColtsNation is fortunate to have. Do you think we could see more screens similar to how Coach Dungy utilized Joe Addai his rookie season? Mack's athleticism would thrive in such plays.

Bowen: In 2006, Joseph Addai had 226 carries for 1,081 yards, along with 40 receptions. I can't see those numbers for Marlon Mack at all. Remember, Addai was a first-round pick and he didn't have Frank Gore and Robert Turbin already in place. I do see Mack fitting into the offensive scheme. Mack offering a change of pace to Gore and Turbin should be used in 2017. But unless an injury occurs, I don't see his numbers rivaling what Addai did in 2006. Still, Mack is going to be an important piece to this offense taking the next step.

Christopher M. (Clovis, NM)

Hey Kevin,

Not that I am rooting against anyone on the current 90 man roster, but I would say there are some I am rooting for. TE Darrell Daniels and OL Zach Banner are players I hope pan out.

  1. Is there a particular prospect or established player you are hoping makes the 53 man roster?

Bowen: Hoping? Not really. I would say I'm interested to see rookie running backs Marlon Mack and Dalton Crossan showcase what they have. A back capable of making major plays in the open field has been missing from this team. So that is something I'll be watching for the rest of the offseason. Also, I think T.J. Green is one of the more interesting case studies in 2017. Just what is the role for the team's second-round pick from last year?

Tom B. (Wabash, IN)

Do you think Peyton Manning will ever join the colts in any kind of coaching or front office capacity. Personally I'd love to see Luck be able to learn from Manning.
I also would like to point out that the Manning statue will be unveiled we 5 vs the that by design or coincidence either way it's pretty cool!!

Bowen: Jim Irsay's fondness for Peyton Manning is well documented. However, I'm not sure where his fit would be in the organization right now, nor do I know of 18's desire post football. I think he would want some ownership stake in a team. The Colts are family owned, so that might be difficult. I'd be shocked if Manning got into coaching. I think an upper management position is more likely. I just don't see that with the Colts right now. With the math question, I thought I had put those books away a long time ago. Great catch though by you. Although, I do not think that was done by design.

Chris N. (Orange County, CA)

Hi Mr. Bowen

I'm a HUGE USC fan and have written about Juju and Adoree in the past and you have answered! This time I want to know what your thoughts are on Zach Banner. He is literally a monster and is a super cool guy. But I watched every USC game this year, and in all honesty Banner struggled keeping up with the speedy edge rushers. This obviously is a cause for concern moving to the NFL. So what do you think about the Colts moving him to guard, leaving Haeg at tackle? He is huge, long arms and strong but I fear he won't be able to keep up on the edge.

Of course, he probably won't see many snaps this year, but how would you feel about grooming him as a righ guard?

Bowen: If you ask area scout Dave Razzano, he thought Banner held his own against speed rushers, especially UCLA's Tak McKinley. It sounds like the Colts are going to keep Banner at tackle, as he tries to drop more weight (he's south of 350 already). Joe Haeg is going to be a guard for this team (at least will be to start 2017). Then you have Le'Raven Clark at tackle. I'm fine with grooming Banner and seeing how his body looks after a few months in a professional weight program/food program. The nice thing for the Colts is they should not need Banner to play a big role as a rookie. They can be patient with him and see what he looks like in 2018.

Jeremy W. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hey Kevin I'm a fan, nice work. Should we expect any lack of a complete playbook from a defensive standpoint with all the new faces? Do you expect a decent ammount of playtime in preseason for starter calliber players too make up for some of this? Or is year two with DC going to involve more schemes compared to last years "simplicity equals speedy" tactic. 

Bowen: I do expect things to be streamlined a bit defensively. The mental tasking of defenders is something the staff has talked about from last year. With so many new faces, it would be foolish to think the Colts could be crazy exotic from Week One. Check out this article for a little more on Ted Monachino's thinking going into Year Two. It will be interesting to see how the Colts handle preseason reps on that side of the ball with all the newness.

Matthew B. (Tampa, FL)

Hello Kevin! Thanks for everything! Second time writing, really excited to see the progress made from all the exciting changes this off-season. So for my questions.. I'm very very high on majority of our coaching and training staff, that being said; few are coming into their second season with us. 
1. Simply what are your thoughts about the staff. 
2. Not trying to be pessimistic but what are the chances with the new free agents and rookies. Could we be in for another 8-8 or 9-7 season? Or do you see us as an early playoff contender? Injury willing. 
3. Last question assuming the defense doesn't make significant improvements could you see us actually moving away from coach pagano or others? Okay one more question.. 
4. As of now it's obviously very early but where do you see the strong point to our defence? Front 7? Or our secondary? I'm leaning towards the secondary myself. Thanks again Kevin!

Bowen: 1. I think this is a staff capable of getting the Colts back to being in the playoffs. It's not like they were that far off the past two years. With some new blood on defense, that should start the rebuild on that side of the ball. 2. Like I've said throughout the mailbag, I believe the Colts are right around a 10-win team and a definite playoff contender. 3. Jim Irsay and Chris Ballard will certainly evaluate things after the season. They have some specific areas they want to see Pagano excel in coaching wise. I fully expect one of those to be on the defensive side of the ball. If the Colts are near the bottom of the NFL again, the higher ups will have a decision to make. 4. I'm going to go with the starting defensive line. The secondary could be, but there's just so many new faces back there to get on the same page and define roles for everyone. That group has major potential though.

Zach M. (Rochester, NY)

Hello Kevin hope you are enjoying my one of my favorite parts of the offseason in rookie mini camp and tryouts. I see we cut Curt Maggit which is a bit of a shock to me I know you were a fan of his as well with an injury settlement. I was looking forward to seeing what a full offseason could do for him does the injury settlement mean that his injury was more serious and lingering than we initially thought?

Bowen: I'm disappointed that injuries hampered the development of Maggitt. You had a guy who produced an 11-sack season in the SEC. That does not happen too often. But a hip injury in September of Maggitt's senior season began a string of injuries for the 2016 undrafted free agent. Maggitt rehabbed all last offseason and made the 53-man roster. However, ankle and knee injuries slowed his rookie campaign. Yep, the injury settlement means the recovery was a little more serious and taking longer to get Maggitt back on the field.

Adam S. (Cedar Lake, IN)

Thanks for answering my questions last week Kevin. I'm still looking for the future and possible players the Colts could be interested in. This week I'll talk about the cornerback group we have. Vontae and Quincy are our 1 and 2. I really like Rashaan Melvin. But what if they pick up Sam shields? Give Rashaan another year to develop

Bowen: Rashaan Melvin is 27 years old. I don't think he needs years to develop. If Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson are the top two cornerbacks, the Colts will have a decision to make. Melvin mainly played outside last year for the Colts. So does that mean the nickel corner spot comes down to Darius Butler/Daryl Morris? I think the Colts should definitely keep Melvin. But right now, I see him more as a backup outside corner in the team's base defense.

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