Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Why Have The Colts Struggled Against The NFL's Best Teams?

Intro: This week, mailbag readers inquire about the improvements needed for playoff time, resting players down the stretch and the different bodies at the safety position.

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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:Josh Olumba (Austell County, GA)

Mr. Pagano why are we (colts) so average against the upper echelon teams in the NFL, because were not to bad of a team ourselves? three playoffs in a row?

Bowen: This was a popular question in this week's mailbag and has many people scratching their head. The Colts have had their troubles with playoff teams in 2014. Four of the Colts five losses have come against teams currently in the playoffs, where as just one win came against those teams. It's a far cry from last year where the Colts went into the postseason with wins over San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Kansas City (all teams with at least double-digit victories in 2013). The friendly fire (turnovers/penalties) committed by the Colts and the lack of a pass rush are a few common denominators in those losses this year. No one should turn their head at three straight playoff appearances and the good news is the Colts will have another chance(s) to turn their fortunes around against the league's elite on the most important stage.

Franklin Finney (Nashville)

can robert mathis play in the playoffs

Bowen: Franklin, Mathis will not play in the playoffs. He's on the reserve non-football injury list and is in the process of his six-month Achilles recovery period that began in September.

Mike Morris (Amarillo, TX)

Hey Kevin. First off--wow, that was brutal to watch. Butterfingers all day. Everything was just off, which happens to everyone, but man, that game hurt to watch.

But for my first question--Coach talks about how we [Colts] need to get an early lead, so why defer the ball in the beginning after winning the toss?

And also--why did they go for that fake punt when we were so deep in our own territory? That was an extremely risky play. It was beautifully executed by Pat, and it's a shame it was dropped, but to me it just seemed like a horrible time to go for that. Terrible field position for a play like that.

Anyways, can't wait to bounce back next week against Tennessee, and "get that taste out of our mouths"! And as always--Go Colts!

Bowen: As far as deferring the toss, we've seen the Colts do this in their last two road contests. It's clear they are looking to find a spark and putting your defense out their first was the option on Sunday (in the recent slow start stretch they've chose to receive at times, too). The defensive unit got the initial stop until the 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Jerrell Freeman. In regards to the fake punt, the call was made via a look the punt team saw from the Cowboys coverage unit. Was the play risky considering the yard line? Yes, but that's what you get in special teams fakes. If Dewey McDonald catches that ball, people are crediting the Colts for a genius play call in a season long of impressive special teams plays. There's plenty of risk/reward involved in such plays and the Colts appeared to have executed it perfectly until the drop.

Gregory Young (Burlington, KY)

Hi, Kevin! ;( Well, what can you say. Mike Adams was right on the money after following the "malice in Dallas" on Sunday! He said and I quote "they embarrased us. It's not the end of the world". My sentiments and thoughts EXACTLY!

Get this game out of your mouthes and move on ... now! My question is, Kevin, ... can the Colts REALLY do this? We have all seen this movie before even during the Manning era. Do you think "this team" can get it done with their O-line, defense, and special teams? I know the offense can (with the exception of the last few performances excluding the line). I hope so. I really hope that all three phases of the game can get HOT during the run in the Playoffs. If not, it's 86 over and OUT!

Bowen: "This team" like you said, the one we saw on Sunday, cannot get it done. They have to get back to the team seen in early-mid October. The offense cannot continue to struggle out of the gate and play from multiple score deficits early in contests. While the Colts run defense has made strides in the past few weeks, the pass rush has been quiet against some of the NFL's better offenses. Looking at past history, there are plenty of examples of teams who have had games to forget late in the year and then made a playoff push. The Colts had one on Sunday and critics will question them really through the first round of the playoffs, if they can advance from the Wild Card Round. At times in 2014, the Colts have been led to victory by all three units. They have to see all three contribute close to that level to make a January run.

Sue Ressler (Rochester, MI)

Hi Mr. Bowen,

I am a new Colts fan, ever since you drafted Zurlon Tipton from Central MI.. I am a big fan of Zurlon and was wondering when we will be seeing more of Zurlon on the field. He's a great player and I am so proud that he is making the roster. Go Colts!!

Bowen: Sue, you must have seen this coming before the Cowboys game and judging by your hometown, I'm sure you watched Tipton in college. Tipton played 17 offensive snaps on Sunday in his first real NFL action outside of special teams. It's clear the Colts think highly of Tipton as he's been the team's third running back for the last month, following Ahmad Bradshaw being placed on injured reserve. To some, Tipton was a surprise to make the 53-man roster after final cuts. He did though, with the Colts initially carrying four running backs back in early September. The Colts have had some nice success with their 2014 undrafted free agent class this year and Tipton was one of the few bright spots from Sunday.

Rob E (Ocala, FL)

Im interested to see what are plans are for laron landry. I havent seen too much of him since his return with Sergio Brown and Mike Adams getting most of the snaps... Though I did see landry on special teams?? The colts are paying this guy 4+ Million per year for second string? Has Sergio Brown officially taken over his starting position?

Bowen: Landry got his first start on Sunday since returning from suspension back in Week 11. He's seen a steady uptick in his defensive snap counts while also playing on special teams. The Colts are currently using all three safeties (Landry, Mike Adams and Sergio Brown) within their defensive packages.

David Philps (Indiana)

The Colts can not do any better than the 3rd or 4th seed which they already have locked up, unless they win out and either the Denver Broncos or New England Patriots must go 0-2 in their final 2 games. The chances of the Broncos or the Patriots losing both of their last final two games is practically impossible odds. If the Colts were to win the next 2 games, their chance of improving to a 1st or 2nd seed would still be very slim. Risking injury to your starting players with practically no chance of advancement, is that worth the risk or would it it be wiser to rest your starters for 2 weeks to let them get 100% healthy and ready to make a push at full strength?

Bowen: David sent this in prior to Week 16 and brings up a question that Colts fans have debated for years. It's a good problem when you're faced with this question late in the season. Against Dallas, we saw the Colts rest starters in Gosder Cherilus and T.Y. Hilton. Chuck Pagano said in the week leading up to Week 16 that players with nagging injuries wouldn't be risked, knowing that little playoff seeding was left to be played for. Was the loss of Hilton significant on Sunday? Sure. But a healthy Hilton is an absolute must come January for this team to have a chance of advancement. The Colts will probably have a few more of those decisions (i.e. Dwayne Allen, Jerrell Freeman) to make this weekend with an extremely slim shot of moving up to the 3 seed.

Wyatt McCann (League City, TX)

Do you expect Boom Herron to get more touches in the running game moving forward? He has averaged over 5 yards per carry and has simply been productive every time he gets the ball. It would be nice to see the running game get cranked up as we get closer to the playoffs.

Bowen: Coming into Sunday, Herron was on a four-week terror in getting extended offensive reps. The Colts clearly tried to get the running game going on Sunday with rushes on the first three plays from scrimmage. It was a daylong struggle though in trying to establish any semblance of a run game. Herron continues to see his snap count rise and even got the start at running back on Sunday. It's becoming more and more clear how important Herron is at the running back position.

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