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).
Howard M. (Kendallville, IN)
Kevin, Can you try to explain what the no clear possession rule is. It seems to me after watching the play against Houston that we had possession.I have tried to find a definitive rule on this but I haven't had any luck. If there is a scrum for the ball at the bottom of a pile after a fumble you could say that there is no clear possession of the ball on about every play. The player recovering the football might not have had clear possession of the ball from beginning to end of the fumble.
Bowen: I've yet to see a great replay of the scrum and who ultimately came out of the pile. In one angle, it looked like David Parry had his hand on it. But I believe Houston tight end Ryan Griffin eventually emerged with the ball in his hands. When the officials saw Griffin with the ball, I think that's where the Colts lost any chance of determining that they had possession of it.
Tuna H. (Hawaii)
Will the Colts go to the draft and get a bonafide first round running back in the next draft? If the Colt has an Ezikiel type back Luck would not have to carry this team by himself. Last time the Colts had a quality runner was when they drafted Edgrrin James a few years ago. Gore is OK but hes old and I don't know how much more gas he has in the tank. Untill the Colts are serious about running the ball it will never go over the hump - Luck cannot carry this team by himself and hes been killed out there because all opponents are teeing off on him because of a lack of a running game. There are a few goods one in the next coming draft and the Colts should draft up to get one of the top backs in the draft.
Bowen: Tuna, if you've read the mailbag in prior weeks, you know that I'm not a fan of such a move. This team needs to improve their talent on the defensive side of the ball. Playmakers are a luxury over there and the Colts have to find a way to acquire those sorts of players. That comes through the draft, using high picks. When I look at running back, I see a definite need there. However, this is an extremely deep running back group in 2017. The Colts can afford to be patient and wait on a runner. Defensive needs are higher on my list than trading up in the first round to get a running back.
Eliodoro G. (Palmetto, SC)
Hey kevin will the colts sign some veteran on free agent for 2017
Bowen: I do think the Colts will be in the market for a couple of free agents in 2017. They should have the cap room to first sign their key guys back and also go out and find a plug-in guy or two. The team still needs to think about the long-term deals likely coming for Jack Mewhort and Donte Moncrief. But that shouldn't hinder the ability for this team to make some noise when free agency rolls around.
Marvin T. (Allentown, PA)
Hey Kevin, Thanks for reading...
Why doesn't Coach Chud implement some 'Josh McDaniels' type schemes to get the ball out quicker in your opinion??? Seems that with our ailing O-line, that would be the best remedy beside the run game which has has been inconsistent as well.
Should our Defense be completely overhauled? Seems teams we play often (Pit, NE, KC), freuently run the score up on us, might they know us too well???
Bowen: With the offense, I feel that has to be part of the game plan this weekend. The offensive line is banged up and you are going to need to hit on some quicker throws to take the pressure off the new-look line. The Colts are going to take their chunks down the field, but I have been surprised we haven't see as much of the quicker action as we saw in the preseason. Defensively, I guess it depends on your definition of "overhaul." The Colts can't afford a complete overhaul personnel wise. You need to build with Clayton Geathers, Henry Anderson, T.J. Green etc. in mind. But you also need to find some young impact guys with other positions getting up there in age. So, yes, the Colts need and will have some turnover. But they aren't going to dismantle every level of the defense, because there are some young guys that can play in this league and deserve more of a look.
Jake H. (Fullerton, CA)
How do you think the Colts will address the O-line in the offseason? Primarily through the draft or some free agency? They used four picks on the line last draft; Kelly and Joe are nice additions and are developing and we know virtually nothing about Clark. The line isn't complete yet right?
Bowen: For me, I'm not sure if the Colts will definitely go out and spend top dollar or a top pick on a lineman. You look at next year and you really have no free agents on the line. We could get more of a glimpse on Le'Raven Clark here against Minnesota. I just look at the defensive side as the more pressing needs. The line play has to get better for sure. But that has to come through those young guys developing. The Colts did get good news on Jack Mewhort in the starting left guard not tearing his ACL. But I don't think it's a slam-dunk the Colts will go out and sign an offensive lineman in free agency or spend a high draft pick on one. You drafted four linemen last year for a reason. It's time to let them grow.
William F. (San Diego)
Hey Kevin, really appreciate the mailbag! I would like to know your thoughts on the following:
1) The Colts trade to the second and third rounds of the draft (both back and forward). Try to consolidate down to only 3 or 4 picks but have them all come in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. This draft is apparently deep at Edge, RB, and CB; so the Colts could clean up on all the fallers and still get top quality players at positions of need.
2) The Colts should start playing with younger players for the rest of the season. I am not saying to throw away the rest of the season but yeah I kinda am. The Colts have pulled in a bunch of younger / newer guys and getting them some playing time might illuminate players who can be pieces of the future. This would also allow them to continue to explore the waiver (after all R. Melvin was a great find). The waiver pool never has more talent than at the end of a season when teams get desperate or start to make pushes and subsequently cut players they have been trying to hold on to.
3) I think the O-Line has all the pieces for the future and does not need any draft picks or free-agents, just time. It would be ideal if L. Clark could come to fruition and then we would have depth as well.
4) I like A. Morrison and think he can effectively replace D. Jackson. I also still think C. Maggit could be the heir apparent to E. Walden as well. The need at LB comes in on the Edge and the Will (cover).
5) Sign R. Mathis to a one year minimal contract. He deserves it and will be needed, even without production, in this youth movement.
What are your thoughts on these things and who are some surprising players that you feel both "will" and "will not" be on the roster next year (understanding that it is of course complete speculation)? Thanks again and go Colts!
Bowen: William, not holding back on the number of questions this week. 1. I understand you're thinking here, but I don't see it happening. The Colts need a large quantity of rookies that come from the draft. Sometimes a fifth-rounder pans out quicker than a third-rounder. I'd rather take my chances on 6-7 draftees, then trying to split it down to 3-4. Also, teams aren't giving up a second-round pick in exchange for just a couple late-rounders. 2. Well, I think you're starting to see that. Injuries/suspensions have largely contributed to that. But guys like Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison and Rashaan Melvin are starting. This week, you will probably see more of Chester Rogers on offense with Donte Moncrief out. 3. This is my thinking, too. It's time to let those young guys develop. 4. I could see this, but the Colts can't ignore a stud OLB/ILB come draft time. 5. This is a definite question of the off-season. How do the Colts want to move forward at outside linebacker with Erik Walden, Robert Mathis and Trent Cole hitting free agency. Mathis has given every indication that he wants to play again next season. I think the answer to this will depend on what the Colts think they can get in free agency and the draft off the edge.
Eric L. (Fort Wayne, IN)
It has to be possible. I see it every week during the games. Quarterbacks get plenty of protection barring the occasional missed assignment. I've see QB's get days of protection and yet we have the most pressured quarterback in the league. My football acumen isn't well rounded enough to understand why. Is it poor talent? Is it bad coaching? Is Andrew screwing up his pacing? I just cant figure it out. What do teams like the packers or the patriots have that we are missing?
Bowen: The most difficult question to find an answer to on why the Colts have struggled with pass protection. I think it's some sort of combination with the need for simply improved play up front, the need to handle twists/stunts better and Luck/receivers on the same page to where you don't have to hold onto the ball for longer than the blocking calls for. When the rhythm in the passing game bogs down, a defense is going to get home. If you're looking for that to get better this weekend, the odds aren't looking great. The Colts will likely be starting their 7th different offensive line combination with rookie Le'Raven Clark in line to make his first career start. Plus, you are facing the league's top defensive unit scoring wise. The Colts feel like they have the young pieces now in place up front. Frank Gore believes it takes more than a year to get that cohesion together up front. So we will see if the Colts can achieve that in the upcoming offseason.
Paul M. (Pittston, PA)
Hey Kevin, quick question. Is Anderson still hurt. Last year it seemed his name was being called after every D play, this year even when he's in there you barely hear his name called.
Bowen: To me, Henry Anderson is still not all the way back. You were asking a lot for Anderson to come back from an ACL in less than a year. He did that. But the Colts desperately just need Anderson playing, even if he's not at a full rep/full health standpoint. The Colts have been beat up along the defensive line, so Anderson's presence is really needed. For the Colts to take the next step defensively in 2017, Anderson has to get back to the playmaker we saw in the first half of 2015.
Jim B. (Houston)
Kevin, I am a long time fan living in Houston. Before the Texans game there was a tv show locally about the game and a question was asked why have the Texans always been successful running the ball against the Colts. The answer given was that the Colts lines are always soft. It pained me to hear that but it proved true in the game. I believe most games are won or lost in the trenches and we haven't had strong trenches in a long time. Do you agree and if not why are we so bad at stopping the run?
Bowen: The Colts have to get better in the trenches. There's no secret about that. Houston wanted to run the ball and not force Brock Osweiler to make a bunch of throws in order to win the game. The Texans did that with 181 rushing yards. Houston has had great success this season in the ground game against the Colts. Last Sunday we saw leakage in gap assignments for the Colts and that led to another 100-yard day for Lamar Miller. Injuries and subtractions have been piling up for the Colts but that doesn't completely excuse Houston's big day on the ground. With Kendall Langford out, Henry Anderson clearly not 100 percent and Zach Kerr also missing last week, Houston took advantage of an area of strength, exposing the Indy run defense sans D'Qwell Jackson.
Gary O. (Whitestown, IN)
After the PI that put Colts 1st and goal at the 5, the Colts hustled down and went no huddle, running for 3 yards. This made it 2nd and goal at the 2. Colts had Texans in a goal line situation with their goal line defense on the sideline. Why on earth didn't Colts stay no huddle and keep that advantage? Instead, colts subbed in heavy package and let Texans bring in Wilfork and goal line defense. AND RAN RIGHT INTO IT! This set up the 3rd & 5 and the sack fumble. This is truly where Colts lost this game!
Bowen: The Colts actually did have Vince Wilfork on the field on the Turbin run down to the two-yard line. Now, on second down, the Colts did sub a bigger personnel grouping into the game and the Texans countered. Looking back on it, sure the Colts probably would have liked to use a little tempo, keep the same sort of personnel package on the field so Houston didn't have the time to sub. I do agree with you that this was the Colts chance to really seize momentum and churn things back to the home sideline. The strip/sack was so deflating for a team that needed a spark via a touchdown drive.
Patrick B. (Evansville, IN)
I have a couple questions regarding the offense and play calling.
1) With Andrew Luck taking so may hits and the offensive line getting banged up all the time, has the coaching staff ever considered trying to move the pocket instead of just doing straight drop backs each time? It could make it more difficult for pass rushers to get in the back field and throw them off there game a bit.
2) Why can we never seem to run for a first down or touchdown on short yardage downs?! If teams stack the box at the goal line and a run up the middle won't work, maybe try a toss play and have linemen pull to one side? It just seems like no matter how close the offense gets, they always go to pass plays in those situations. There's more than one way to run the ball.
3) I know that the coaching staff and luck like to get 'chunk plays', but since we don't really have huge receivers to go up and get a ball over people down field, maybe we should try more quick crossing routes out of a trips bunch(of which I've almost never seen us run)? This could keep pressure down and help keep press coverage off our smaller fast receivers. Maybe once the defense starts to bite up the hit the big plays down field. The offense is incredibly vanilla and a waste of the talent that we have.
4) Has anyone looked into the training/conditioning staff for the team? It seems like every year we always have a tone of injuries. I know it's the NFL and injuries happen, but we always seem to have more big injuries than a lot of other teams in the league.
Sorry that was more than a couple,
Thanks again for keeping the mailbag going
Bowen: A couple of mailbagers not holding back this week. 1. I'm sure Rob Chudzinski has looked into designed rollouts and other methods to change the pocket and improve the protection time for Andrew Luck. I don't recall Chud ever saying that publically, but with the inconsistency up front, this staff has to have explored all options. 2. To be honest, I think the plays that have worked for the Colts in short yardage have been Robert Turbin dives up the gut or pitches inside the 10 to Frank Gore/Turbin. It seems like those outside runs via a pitch have found some success when this team gets into goal-to-go situations. The short yardage consistency has to get better though. 3. This is answered above. 4. The Colts changed their strength and conditioning program this season. When you look at injuries, the team only placed three guys on injured reserve until recently. That's a far cry from other teams and even past Colts squads. Long-term injuries haven't been an issue for this team in 2016.