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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will We See Improvement From The Healthier Colts Defense?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about how the injuries have impacted things on defense, establishing more of a run game and an early look at the 2017 NFL Draft.


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).

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

I have seen some of the games, and have questions.

  1. As expected, Andrew Luck is playing like the top 10 Quarterback that he is, and the offense has played pretty good. However, the defense is far from good. With Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson practicing again, how good do you think the defense will be in the next few weeks?
  1. Looking at the next offseason, I see linebackers and running backs as 1-2, with a blue-chip linebacker as an essential need. In the next draft, who are you looking at?

Bowen: 1. We are going to find out a lot about this defense over the next few weeks. Obviously, a lot of these guys (Vontae Davis, Henry Anderson, Kendall Langford, Clayton Geathers, etc.) are still working their way back to 100 percent. But all of them are back practicing and Ted Monachino is finally going to have the personnel he went into the 2016 season believing would be at his disposal. I do think this unit will take a serious jump. The pass rush has to improve, but the bodies are now in place for this defense to balance out what the Colts have asked for from the offense early this season. 2. You are spot on with my thinking. I say pass rusher/running back is high, high atop the draft wish list for the Colts. I don't think cornerback is too far behind those two positions.

Curt H. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Question 1: With the rule change this year taking a touchback out to the 25 instead of the 20 we've seen a lot of teams kick the ball higher to keep the ball out of the end zone and allow their special teams more time to get down the field to keep the opposing team from getting those extra 5 yards. It seems like everyone is doing this except the Colts. Pat continues to kick the ball deep into the end zone or even out of the end zone. Why aren't the Colts approaching kickoffs like the rest of the league? Why give up 5 extra yards?

Question 2: Why does it seem whenever Gore runs the ball the Colts have him go straight up the middle? And in many cases against a loaded box. It seems like the Colts are expecting him to just run over the defensive players and that's not happening. There's got to be something else we can do with the run game. It's just frustrating watching the Colts trying to run the ball the way they do and hardly ever having any success.

Thanks for your time!

Bowen: 1. This has been a debate throughout the preseason and early in the regular season. We saw the Colts use more of the higher kickoff during the preseason, partly because they wanted to evaluate what the tackling looked like on special teams. I'm curious to see if the Colts try more of those kicks in the coming weeks. They are out of the altitude in Denver and will be kicking in normal conditions the next month or so. Right now the Colts rank 19th in the NFL in average drive start following kickoffs. 2. Gore is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, 21st in the NFL after two weeks. Exceptional speed and break away ability in the open field is something Gore has never been well known for. He's more of an in-between the tackles type of runner. We've seen Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson receive more runs out on the edge and in space. If the Colts are going to get their run game going at a higher clip, this weekend looks to be the time to do it. The Chargers are allowing 5.1 yards per carry, which is 31st in the NFL.

Martin G. (Topolcany, Slovakia)

Hi Kevin, how are you today? I saw that we had really bad luck for injuries. I want you to explain me how some injury can affect gameplan and strategy during the game. For example our secondary. Did coaches change the whole gameplan and playcalling because of injuries of players or it stayed the same gameplan no matter which player is on the field? I wish you great day. Go COLTS.

Bowen: Martin, I'm doing great. Looking forward to being over on your side of the pond next week. The short answer of this is 'yes.' The Colts have had to adjust their defensive calls so far in 2016 due to the injuries across that unit. Here is what Chuck Pagano had to say on that very topic earlier this week: "It makes it tough. You go in with a limited number and you are not at full strength and then when those guys start dropping out, Ted (Monachino) is trying to call defenses and you have different packages and those packages start to dwindle a little bit. Credit Ted and the rest of the guys on the defensive staff. They did a great job and Greg Williams our secondary coach, he does a great job preparing those guys. A guy like Matthias (Farley), he is a guy that has come in here like (Darryl) Morris and (Rashaan) Melvin. We tell those guys to prepare like starters all the time because you never know because it's going to happen. You don't want it to happen but it's going to happen where guys will get called to duty and you never know when that is. Those guys do a great job of preparing the players and handle themselves as great pros day-in and day-out. When we ran out of guys and we didn't have a guy to play the nickel position and a guy like Farley, you look to him because he was the last guy standing at the time. It was third down and Ted was asking if we had enough to go sub personnel. He looked at 41 and asked if he knew what to do in nickel and he said, 'Yes sir.' So he runs in there and did a good job. He actually made a great play in the open field getting the guy on the ground and getting us off the field on third down. Again, credit to Ted and the rest of those guys on the defensive staff and those players for being prepared for that moment."

Carter F. (Norfolk, NE)

Hello Kevin, I really appreciate answering all of Colt Nation's questions. Do you think that the colts will put together some sort of trade for a secondary player? I think if we don't win this game, the season is about over. I think if we just added one more starting caliber cornerback that would pay off huge in the coming weeks. I also believe if we had a healthy secondary we would have won the past two games. Thanks Kevin

Bowen: I don't think a trade is necessarily needed for the secondary when you look at the injury report trending upwards for the back end of the defense. Vonate Davis and T.J. Green should be on the field this Sunday. Don't forget about Clayton Geathers either. Patrick Robinson's return shouldn't be too far behind those guys either. Just Darius Butler (hamstring) is the only injury that could keep him out a couple of weeks. Therefore, I don't think a trade is needed and honestly, I thought the secondary has hung in there even with the waves of injuries.

Zach M. (Rochester, NY)

Hello Kevin, hope all is well

Only one question this time.

Why did the Colts cut Winston guy over mathias farley? This move makes little sense to me. Guy is a veteran and special teams ace that can go a solid job having to come in if needed why farley is very unproven and raw. I get it must mean geathers and green are healthy but with the trend on our defense I would rather have guy coming in that farley.

Bowen: It sounds like this staff is very high on Farley, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame. The Colts brought Farley in for a top-30 visit during the draft process. They also said they thought about taking him during this year's NFL Draft. After Farley was cut following an impressive preseason with the Cardinals, the Colts made sure to pounce on the opportunity to claim him. The Colts are losing a good special teamer in Guy. But I can't see the fourth safety on this team's roster playing at all, outside of special teams, when you have Mike Adams, Clayton Geathers and T.J. Green healthy.

Anthony O. (Springfield, MO)

Hey Kevin, great work as always, I hope you are doing well with the busy season ever churning forward. It's been a rough couple weeks and seems like people are hitting the panic button in some ways on this Colts team. I saw a lot of positives with the injured defense against the Broncos, as you pointed out they only allowed a single TD which no one else seems to want to point out. The offense, I think will be getting things going soon, or at least we can hope, slow starts have been an issue as has been the norm just about. My question for you Kevin is with the defense looking like it'll get Anderson back soon, Jones soon off suspension, Geathers and Green seem to be trending towards healthy as well, we have seen the defense do some good things and with them getting back to healthy do you see them getting through the season as a top 10 type defense? Thanks again Kevin.

Bowen: The defense is getting much, much healthier at arguably the most critical time of the season. It's an obvious welcome sign for a team sitting at 0-2 and a defense that has been without several starters for the first two games of the year. Now, asking that unit to all of a sudden climb into the top-10 of the NFL might be a little too ambitious. I do think the defense can hover around right around the middle of the NFL, while Ted Monachino starts to open up more of his playbook and starts to get more of his headline defenders on the field (and up to 100 percent). Now, with Donte Moncrief out four-to-six weeks, the Colts need the defense to carry much more of the load than what the Colts asked from that unit early in the season.

Tom R. (Lafayette, IN)

I rarely see an offensive linemen in the pro's wearing knee braces. In college all of them do. Is there a reason why pro's don't? I would think this would greatly limit the potential for knee injuries.

Bowen: I can't say I've watched this too closely. I believe, several Colts lineman do wear some sort of brace around the knee area though. I guess I'll have to start noticing this more. I know opinions vary on just how much knee braces to prevent knee injuries.

Ray S. (Minnesota)

After watching the Colts game on Sunday against Denver.. The colts were flagged for several Pass interference..which they spot the ball at the infraction On similar plays against the Colts WR Denver were only flagged for defensive holding the 5 yard flavor.. Why the ball was in the air the foul was committed by the defense and it wasn't a spot foul can you explain the different please?

Bowen: Ray, it's hard for me to decipher which exact plays you are referring to. Basically, a holding penalty before the catch is a five-yard infraction. A pass interference penalty that occurs is a spot foul, which can really change the course of a game.

Jim B. (Houston)

In the Denver game Donte Moncrief took a nasty hit to the head/jaw area which put him out of the game injured. My question is should this have been penalized? It looked like on the replay that the crown of the helmet of the defender hit him in the jaw just before the ball arrived. Isn't there a penalty for hitting a defenseless player in that situation?

Bowen: I tried to go back and take a slow-mo look at this play, but couldn't find a replay. At first look, I honestly thought safety T.J. Ward led with his shoulder and it was a legal hit. I haven't seen any fine for Ward so the NFL thought it was legal.

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