Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will Griff Whalen Begin To See More Playing Time?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about Peyton Manning’s second return to Indianapolis, the offensive philosophy for Rob Chudzinski and how the tight end production might change going forward.

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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:

Maurice P. (Charlotte)

That was a crazy comeback and lost. Why was Pep Hamilton the first to get fired? Why not Greg Manusky? I understand the offense may put you in bad spots, but defense wins gmes and championships. If you can't stop anyone, what's the point? 3rd quarter down 10-6 and Cam Newton did that spin move will being blitzed in the pocket, that should have been a sack.

Bowen: The Colts defense has been put in far too many less than advantageous situations this season. Against Carolina, 26 of the Panthers 29 scoring drives took less than 37 yards. All five of those Panthers scoring drives started in Indianapolis territory and four of them came off Colts turnovers. Obviously, the defense needs to play better but the unit has kept the Colts in the ball game the past two weeks.

Tykwon W. (Springfield, MA)

Can the offense line PLEASE protect Andrew Luck?? I'm am a die hard fan and will always love the colts and I'm not to happy with the team this season we have great players but we have to work together and the defense has to play better also can we start getting wins

Bowen: We received a few offensive line specific questions this week and I'm a little surprised. Can the unit play better? Certainly. However, the group has been much better as the season has gone along. On Monday night, Andrew Luck had more time to throw than any other quarterback in the league last week. The offensive line has paved the way for Frank Gore to be on pace for a 1,000-yard season in 2015. New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said this week that he's challenged the offensive line to be the best unit in the NFL and believes the group has played better lately. Now, the line is going to be tested at the highest of levels this weekend. Denver leads the NFL with 29 sacks, with a remarkable 12 different Broncos recording sacks this year.


Carson P. (Columbia, SC)

Do you expect Gore to get the ball more under the new offensive coordinator? And do you expect the colts to start out fast in another prime time game just like they did against the patriots going up against a stout Denver defense?

Bowen: Chuck Pagano made it clear at his Wednesday press conference that Rob Chudzinski "believes in running the football." Chud and Gore know each other quite well. Chud was Gore's offensive coordinator when the University of Miami won the 2001 National Championship. Gore is definitely going to be a major factor of this offense in the second half of the season. Yes, the tempo might pick up but that doesn't mean Gore will see his role shrink. Gore received 14 first-half carries on Monday night, which is a very high number. However, he's had just two fourth-quarter carries the past three weeks. That will change under Chud.

Juan B. (Sunnyside, WA)

Me and my 3 bros pulse a sister in law are all huge colts fans. It kills us to see how they are right now. The only thing we've heard is luck is injured. Is there any weight behind that?

Bowen: Before this week, Andrew Luck had disappeared from the injury report. His shoulder injury had healed and he was no longer listed on the injury report. Now, Luck is back on the injury report this week due to an ankle injury he suffered on Monday night. After being limited during Wednesday's practice, Luck was a full participant Thursday and Friday. The ankle injury obviously doesn't appear to be too serious to keep Luck sidelined come Sunday. It remains to be seen if Luck's ankle impacts his mobility in the pocket and keeps him from a being a running threat.


Alex B. (Fishers, IN)

Will you guys actual throw to coby fleener this week?

Bowen:* *Another question that I'm a little confused as to why is being sent in this week. Since having just one target the first two weeks, Fleener has 44 targets in the past six games. Fleener led the Colts with 11 targets for seven receptions on Monday night. It will be curious to see how the tight ends are involved with Chud calling the shots. Chud, a former tight end, was the tight end position coach in San Diego when Antonio Gates had his two 1,000-yard seasons. That could be good news for Fleener, Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle.

Lily S. (Indiana)

Will the Colts try to incorporate Griff Whalen more? He looked good vs the Panthers.

Bowen: Monday was a very nice outing for Griff Whalen (five catches in five targets for 48 yards). Whalen was huge in the fourth quarter and filled in nicely in Phillip Dorsett's first game sidelined. Depending on the availability of T.Y. Hilton for Sunday, Whalen might see a serious uptick in his playing time. It's pretty remarkable that Whalen caught five passes Monday seeing how he only played 10 snaps in the game. Dorsett was receiving around 20 percent of the offensive snaps each game, so maybe Whalen sees his reps climb a bit on Sunday.


Vanda B. (Milwaukee)

Who do you think is under more pressure to win this game? Denver to keep the streak going or Indy on the rebound from last week..

Bowen: The Colts definitely need this win more than the Broncos do right now. Sure, Denver is undefeated and is in firm control of the AFC West and they are tied atop the conference with two other undefeated teams (Cincinnati and New England). It's the Colts that are sitting at 3-5, playing at home and tied atop their own division. A loss from the Colts on Sunday and they will fall below Houston in the AFC South (the Texans have their bye this week). Peyton Manning's teammates aren't holding back this week in talking about the motivation they have this week in "winning this for 18." After last year's playoff loss in Denver, you know the Broncos will be more than ready come Sunday afternoon.

Jarred M. (Fort Smith, AR)

The last three weeks I have seen long routes from our receivers looking for the deep ball on almost every play, making Luck hold the ball waiting for them to get open. My question is should we have a couple of them run shorter routes or maybe have our Rb flank out on key 3rd downs to help luck especially since our line isnt the best?

Bowen: Jarred, this is something we might see more of from Rob Chudzinski. It's not like the Colts pass catchers are running straight streaks every route. We've seen crossing routes and underneath action tried but just not work consistently to keep drives in rhythm, especially early in games. The Colts have really struggled in the screen department, too. Again, it will be interesting to see how Chud uses his route trees this week with the status of T.Y. Hilton in question.


Harvey M. (Cowpens, SC)

I was at the Colts/Patriots game and as much holding that goes on in a NFL game, it's hard for me to believe one team(Colts) can have that many holding penalties and the other team have one. Can the officials be punishing the Colts for calling out the Cheaters?

Bowen: Come on now, Harvey. Let's not go there. As far as the holding penalties, we've seen a definite rise in penalties across the NFL this season. The Colts have been called for a few more than others and Chuck Pagano has stressed to his players to trust their technique. Last week, the Colts were called for just two penalties so we will see if that trend keeps up in the second half of 2015.


John M. (Vero Beach, FL)

I was Born in Indiana and been a colts fan my whole life just wanted to know if ty will play Sunday and if frank gore will get a ton of carriers with this ball hawking broncos secondary thx Kevin

Bowen: Hilton did not practice all week, an almost sure sign players don't play that week. However, Hilton did do some field running and treadmill work Friday and will be evaluated over the next 36-48 hours to determine his availability for Sunday. He's listed as questionable for Week Nine. In his four NFL seasons, Hilton has missed just two games. He's frequently played through nagging injuries, particularly this season. Most guys who don't practice all week are ruled OUT on Friday. Hilton could be a definite exception. This is the injury to watch going into Sunday. Most guys I would say would be inactive after not practicing all week. Hilton is just a bit different with his injury status.

Tommy G. (Utah)

Hey Kevin,

I am going to Colts vs Broncos and I was wondering what the chances are that the Colts do another tribute video to Manning like in 2013 on SNF. It would be pretty awesome considering this is probably the last time I will ever see Manning play.

Bowen: Tommy, there will be no pre-game Manning tribute video this time around. This is the fourth time Manning has seen his former team and No. 18 said it best earlier this week in talking about this sort of matchup. This game has lost somoe of the sentimental feel compared to 2013. Sure, there are still going to be emotions running through Manning come Sunday but this is a Denver team that wants revenge on a team that ended their season last year. Here is a link to the Manning tribute video from 2013.

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