Colts Offensive Burning Questions Bye Week Edition

Intro: At the bye week, the Colts sit at 4-5 and atop the AFC South. What are the things to watch for on the offensive side of the ball in the final seven games of the regular season?

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INDIANAPOLIS – What a first nine weeks of 2015 for the Colts offense.

After all the offseason expectations for the Colts offense, the unit has battled inconsistencies in the first half of 2015 before playing its best 60 minutes of the year on Sunday.

Here's a look at the offensive burning questions heading into the final seven games of 2015:

Will the Colts survive without Andrew Luck?

For the second time in 2015, the Colts will turn to Matt Hasselbeck to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Hasselbeck led the Colts to back-to-back divisional wins earlier this season without committing a turnover in either start.

That same recipe would be ideal to follow in the coming weeks.

The Colts' schedule lightens up in the second half with just two teams remaining with records over .500.

Hasselbeck showed earlier this year that he's more than capable of keeping the Colts ship well above water.

If Hasselbeck can continue to protect the football and get the ball in the hands of the Colts playmakers quickly, this offense should be able to build off what took place Sunday against Denver.

When Hasselbeck (likely) hands the keys of the offense back to Luck later this season, the Colts should still be atop the AFC South.

STAT TO NOTE: Since 2000, quarterbacks age 40 and older have started multiple games in a season on nine different occasions. Brett Favre (2009) and Matt Hasselbeck (2015) are the only two with over .500 records.**

How will Frank Gore's role change in the second half of 2015?**

Gore enters the final seven games of 2015 on pace to be the Colts first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai in 2007.

In Sunday's win over the Broncos, Gore carried the ball 28 times, which is his highest total since the 2011 season.

It goes without saying that Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw are going to be counted on heavily with Hasselbeck under center.

Back in Week Five, Gore's 22-carry/98-yard outing in Houston was the ground game reliance the Colts needed with a bed-ridden Hasselbeck playing through a bacterial infection.

We've talked a lot this season about the pitch count for the 32-year old Gore.

He's currently averaging about 16.4 carries a game, on pace to finish the season with a little more than 260 rushing attempts.

That would up put him almost exactly at his average from 2011-2014 in San Francisco.

You know teams are going to try and stack the box in the coming weeks so that 4.0 yards per carry of Gore's this season might be harder to maintain.

STAT TO NOTE: If Frank Gore does indeed run for 1,000 yards this season, he will become the fourth running back in NFL history to reach that mark at the age of 32 or older.How will the pass catching reps be divided up in the final seven games?

It's been anyone's guess trying to predict the weekly targets for the Colts pass catching options this season.

T.Y. Hilton is coming off arguably his best game of 2015 considering the Pro Bowl duo Denver has at the cornerback position.

With Donte Moncrief showing he can handle a No. 1 workload earlier in the season, the Colts have a potent 1-2 punch at the wide receiver position.

Until Philip Dorsett returns (potentially by the end of November), the combination of Andre Johnson and Griff Whalen will likely round out the wide receiver group.

We definitely saw a major rise in the tight end reps on Sunday with Rob Chudzinski instructing the game flow.

I'd expect that to continue in looking back on how Chud has utilized that position in prior NFL stops.

STAT TO NOTE: On Sunday, Dwayne Allen played his most snaps of 2015. Coby Fleener saw his most time on offense since Week Four of the season. Jack Doyle logged 31 offensive snaps, after playing 21 combined in the previous three weeks.**

A great way to put a name with a face.

Is the offensive line improving?**

Both offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and offensive line coach Joe Gilbert believe the line enters the bye week as an improved group since the major reshuffling back in Week Three.

Anthony Castonzo has bounced back in returning to his old self in fortifying the blindside of Andrew Luck.

The only real question on the line coming out of the bye is when/if Khaled Holmes will climb back into the starting lineup.

Jonotthan Harrison has started the past two weeks with Holmes banged up due to a neck injury. Holmes was active last week, but did not start after he was limited in practice all week.

While the offense has found its starting unit up front, depth has to be built.

It was late last season when the Colts saw injuries at three different spots up front, forcing a late season revamping in the offensive trenches.

STAT TO NOTE: Anthony Castonzo has started 65 straight regular season games, which ranks fifth among offensive tackles in the NFL.

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