Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Which Colts Defense Will Be Seen Going Forward?

Intro: This week, mailbag readers inquire about the Colts loss in Pittsburgh, the play of the offensive line and Hakeem Nicks.

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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 mailbag.

Here is this week's collection:Greg Young (Burlington, KY)

Hey Kevin! Just wanted to throw some questions around after watching the debacle in Pittsburgh. I've been an NFL and Colts fan since I was 7 years old. Over 50 years. One thing I've learned well over this span is recognizing sorted complacency.

After 5 straight beautiful displays of defensive football I believe that is exactly what happened in the first half at Heinz field this past Sunday. Do you think there was some of that present ?

In the 2nd half the Colts played toe to toe with the Steelers. It just looked to me that Pittsburgh steamed-rolled the Colts in the first 30 minutes. Another query here, the Colts didn't create the overall havoc strikes against them as well. I.e., QB sacks, hurries, stops on 3rd down, etc... WHY ? Have any of the Colts stepped up and given the explanations? Hope we can overcome this game and leave it in the trash can (after learning from it of course!).

Anyway, is the complacency factor here or am I just over-analyzing this too much ?

Bowen: I wouldn't use the word "complacent" but rather attribute it to parity in the NFL. The Colts certainly didn't play well on Sunday. Just like we saw New England play poorly in Kansas City earlier this year and teams like Seattle and San Diego go from the top of their conferences to the middle pack of their divisions in the past month. It's hard to win road games in the NFL and the Colts uncharacteristically dug themselves a massive hole against the Steelers. This team has goals that extend well past just making the playoffs and they know that attaining a top seed (thus home field advantage) leads to an "easier" path to their ultimate goal. There's no place for complacency in order to reach such goals.

Alex Cotterman (New Palestine, IN)

I really liked how well Donte Moncrief played on Sunday. I have always though he would blossom back since before we even drafted him. Anyway, what is going on with the defense? I understand that Vontae Davis got hurt and LaRon Landry was still suspended, but I cant understand how we can allow 500 passing yards to a quarterback with really two legitimate, proven targets. I just hope we can put in a good week of practice and get the W on Monday night in the Meadowlands. If this defense doesn't find it's identity again our upcoming games against the Patriots, Texans, and Cowboys could be some tedious games to watch.

Bowen: That's the question of the week. Which Colts defense is the 2014 unit? The defense had played so well the previous weeks before the Steelers game. Anytime you're playing a quarterback with the Hall of Fame pedigree of Ben Roethlisberger, getting pressure is a must. The Colts did not do that on Sunday, after piling up 20 sacks during their five-game win streak. Also, I don't think I agree with the "tedious" part. Sure, the defense didn't play well on Sunday but that game was still entertaining with the Colts clawing back from 25 points down to one possession, with the ball.

Gary Bontrager (Laotto, IN)

Where can I buy the hat Coach Pagano wore on 10-26-14. Thank you.

Bowen: All apparel inquires should be directed to the Colts Pro Shop. Those people are very helpful with these types of questions. Contact them here.

Matthew V (Zionsvile)

A quick question about stats keeping. If a running back or receiver fumbles on a play. . .1) Does the yardage they gain prior to the fumble count in terms of yards gained for their personal stats or for team stats? 2) Does it count as a pass for the QB and a catch for the receiver, or a rush for the ball carrier? Thanks.

Bowen: Yes, the running back/receiver gets credit for the number of yards gained prior to the turnover. It counts as a carry/reception/pass as well, prior to the turnover.

Dave H (Sebring, FL)

WHY DID THE COLTS NOT STAY WITH THERE LINEUP THEY USED THE LAST COUPLE OF GAMES??? MEWHORT, THORNTON DID NOT PLAY WELL AT ALL, CAUSING TO MUCH PRESSURE, FROM UP THE MIDDLE ON LUCK!! AND WILL THEY GO BACK TO THE SAME O-LINE?????

Bowen: Sunday marked the first time the Colts have had the same offensive line since mid-September. During the team's five-game winning streak, a different starting line was used each week. When you look at the first half of the season, the line has performed very solid. The unit ranks seventh in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt. The 2014 line has protected better than they did last year and now has created some interior depth with more than a handful of guys starting at those spots already this season.

Isak H. (Mexico City)

With all due respect, how do the colts draft players like Ulrick John (who?) and Andrew Jackson who have made zero impact while they can get undrafted rookie Zach Kerr who is an amazing player and went undrafted because of nothing?

Bowen: First, John is on injured reserve after suffering a leg injury in the preseason. Second, Jackson is on the team's 53-man roster and is mainly used on special teams. The Colts currently lead the NFL with six undrafted rookies on their 53-man roster. Undrafted free agents like Jonotthan Harrison and Zach Kerr have been key contributors. That's all part of the draft/UDFA process. Guys slip through the cracks. Ryan Grigson and his staff pride themselves on finding those gems.

Linda Barrett (Indianapolis)

When and where will the Super Bowl be played?

Bowen: The 2015 Super Bowl (XLIX) will be played on February 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Debbie Gillin (Indianapolis)

How have the Colts been able to overcome the struggles they had at RB and on the offensive line?

Bowen: I don't think I would label those two areas as "struggles" this season. The running back duo is one of the tops in the league with Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson each piling up 500 yards from scrimmage. The offensive line didn't play its best game against the Steelers but the unit ranks seventh in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per pass attempt. That is a major reason why Andrew Luck has had plenty of time to operate the league's top offense.

Tashia Thompson (White Hall, Arkansas)

We could be so much more dangerous if Andrew would use Nicks more! Why is it that Nicks don't see many balls come his way?

Bowen: From a targets standpoint, Nicks ranks third on the team with 38 targets in 2014. Again, with so many skill players excelling in the pass catching department, it's difficult to spread the ball around. With T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne ranking in the top 15 of numerous receiving categories it's tough to force feed Nicks. On Sunday, Donte Moncrief emerged with 12 targets and seven catches after the rookie had caught nine passes through the first seven games of the season.

Ellis Walker SR (Edgewood, MD)

I'm a big colt fan will see more play from Boom Herron? His speed will help the O-line a great deal.

Bowen: You saw Herron get 18 snaps on Sunday against the Steelers with Trent Richardson sidelined. If Richardson can return to the lineup on Monday night, that might see Herron head back to his primary role of special teams duties. It's hard to get three running backs involved each week especially when Richardson and Bradshaw continue to be productive options.

David B (Clearwater, FL)

Sad to say at 58 how much I still don't know about this sport. Could you say how many people are employed by a team? Whats the difference between practice squad and scout team? Love this team on the field, always have. Like to know a little more about what it takes to run this ship. Good reading. thanks.

Bowen: Here's a link to the Colts staff directory and how many employees are on staff . As far as practice squad and the scout team, most of the guys on the practice squad serve as scout team players during the week of practice. You might see a couple of the backend guys on the 53-man roster also don scout team jerseys during the practice week in order to field enough bodies on each side of the ball.

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