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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Are The Colts The AFC South Favorites In 2017?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about Scott Tolzien as the team’s backup, how the cornerback position is coming together and if rookie linebacker Anthony Walker is a starter this season.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Larry G. (California)

Hey Kevin, I was just wondering what your opinion is on Daryl Morris? It seems like few people predict he won't make the roster this year. Also, what CBs do you think will make the roster, if not Morris. Thanks

Bowen: We had a couple of cornerback questions in this week's mailbag. I know Chuck Pagano likes "D-Mo." He held his own at the nickel cornerback position when called upon last year. Morris appears to have the lead for that spot here in 2017. Vontae Davis, Quincy Wilson, Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Morris and Nate Hairston is a good handful of corners. You probably have room for one more guy, depending on injuries and special teams. I'd be watching Chris Milton and Tevin Mitchel, too.

John C. (Bellerose, NY)

hi kevin how you doing. i'm reading from you that luck is not throwing.. I don' really follow tem till august. just headlines of who's in and out. I like the way chris has brought in new players on d. but if the #1 qb misses games. how much would that effect us.i would hate to see all this hard work go wasted. not a big fan of #2 and#3 backups to carry team. unless unitas is on the bench and today I don't know that. big concern? some? your opinion since you see the team up close thanks john cosides LETS GO COLTS

Bowen: First, I think Andrew Luck will be ready for Week One. If Luck is out, it's clearly a major loss. But I do think that Scott Tolzien can win you a game against the Rams. Tolzien gave the Colts a shot last year in his start against the Steelers. If Tolzien is needed for Week One this year, he will have much more prep time than the short week last Thanksgiving. The Colts should be okay if Luck has to miss a game or two. But anything after that, and you totally change your thinking for the 2017 season. Again, I expect Luck to be under center for the opener in Los Angeles.

Neil S. (Indianapolis)

article ranking teams by receiving corp. Our Colts rank was 19th {T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby Brissett, Donte Moncrief, Kamar Aiken, Tevaun Smith} Basically dismissing TY, Calling out not living up to perceived potential (Dorsett:never a 100yd game, Moncrief:under-achieving since injury). Disagreeing about TY, I do see his point on the rest. And was curious as to your assessment as where our corp ranks...

Bowen: Certainly not 19th. This group has the potential to really be a top 5 or 10 receiving bunch. Yes, you need growth from Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. But you also have the addition of Kamar Aiken that could really aid things.

Nick H. (Redlands, CA)

Hey there Kevin this mailbag has really helped keeping me from losing my mind during the off-season so thanks for the frequent dialogue. I would also like to say I had a great feeling with the Ballard hire but wow I feel he has done a great job thus far. Ok so we seem to have great depth at olb personally I'm fired up about Basham ... But the inside backers seems wide open any insight who the front runner may be I really like what I saw towards the end of last year from Morrison! I also think our secondary is going to get allot of takeaways! Go colts!!!!

Thanks again

Bowen: Haha, glad to help Nick. I think Jon Bostic is a name to watch at inside linebacker. Chuck Pagano has mentioned Bostic already this offseason. Healed from a 2016 foot injury, Bostic has shown Pagano the ability to move that the Colts are searching for at inside linebacker. It's wide open at inside linebacker though and those starting spots are likely up in the air until mid-August.

Joseph B. (Kokomo, IN)

Hi Kevin been a couple weeks since i wrote been busy with my son's little league but i still read every Wednesday and Saturday ...I know you are getting slammed with Def draft picks and Andrew Luck questions me personally I like there not setting a date of when he will be back at least not publicly but less pressure on our quarterback ...right now i believe comfortable is the best thing for Luck ...what if they set a date and he not ready by then ...just adds stress and pressure and when your dealing with an injury thats not what you want ...but on with the question i try and mix it up for you ....whats your 3 all time favorite Andrew Luck game's ...I have always been a fan of him from day 1 ...mine would have to be .... 3). Greenbay comeback his rookie year such emotion went into that game you could feel it on the couch of my living room 2). When Broncos came to town 6-0 and we gave them there first blimish ..i got the pleasure of being at that game ...1). Has to be the playoff win againt KC to be down that much and still have the confindence and composure to do what he did makes him an elite quarterback in my eyes ...what your thoughts?

Bowen: Welcome back to the question part of the mailbag, Joseph. Wow, unique question. Kansas City and Green Bay are locks. I do really like that Denver game. Think of all the pressure on Luck in that 2013 contest? You had Peyton Manning making his return to Indianapolis, plus a stout Denver defense. Luck went out threw three touchdowns, ran for another, and didn't toss an interception. I thought the Titans game down in Nashville this past year was impressive, too. Luck's skill positions were down several starters/contributors. Luck was 27-of-39 for 353 yards and three touchdowns in the divisional road win. I'm sure I'm missing some others, but I do like your three games.

Tony H. (Los Angeles)

Hi Kevin!
I guess I have more of an opinion than a question. Many experts are picking Houston to win the AFC SOUTH. I wonder did they see the same two games I saw when the COLTS and HOUSTON played last year. If the COLTS would have had any type of defense, they would have won both games. Experts act like HOUSTON blew out the COLTS. What do you think?

Bowen: This is why I think the Colts have a good shot at winning the AFC South after a two-year hiatus. If the defense improves just a little, the Colts are going to win at least two more games. With Houston, you still have the quarterback question mark. Yes, they get J.J. Watt back, but did lose top corner A.J. Bouye to free agency.

Ryan G. (Greenfield, IN)

Hey, long time colts fan through thick and thin. I was wondering two things. One is could you see Marlon Mack taking over next year. It's seems there is always a couple of rookies that come out and blow their ceiling sky high their rookie year (Doug martin) and I think he could be one of those guys. And two do you see us trading or trying to pick up anybody else. I think we are coming along one thing I've noticed is Jim irsay is putting quite a bit of pressure on luck saying we should get two super bowls in his era I like the optimism but I think he should have done it another way

Bowen: I definitely think Mack's role could expand a lot in 2018. You do still have Robert Turbin under contract. Plus next year's draft class is supposed to again be pretty deep at running back. And who knows what will happen with Frank Gore, who is still running at a starting level. But if Mack shows rookie promise, it's probably time to use him even more. With trades, I think the Colts will be quiet on that front. You really do not see many NFL trades, let alone this time of year. Let your 90-man roster play out a bit and see where you are at in the preseason.

Ryan B. (Cheshire, England)

How's it going Kevin, huge fan of what you're doing for us Colts fans.

Few questions today, will get through as quickly as possible.

1) I've been firmly of the belief that we SHOULD NOT speed Luck back so he's not 100% for Week 1. Seen it happen with RG3 in Washington, don't want to see it with Andrew. Opinions?
2) I'm from the UK and would love to work in the NFL business at some point later down the line (I'm in high school over here). Would you recommend any tips on getting even further knowledgable about the game?

Thanks for your time! Go COLTS!!!

Bowen: Thanks, Ryan. Happy to have you following along. 1. I understand where you're coming from. And I firmly believe the Colts are doing just that. It doesn't mean, Luck might not be ready for the season. It means they are being patient and making sure the doctors give complete clearance before Luck picks up his throwing. Like Jim Irsay said last week, this labrum surgery was not too complicated and rather simple. 2. I would get into contact with the NFL UK and see what programs they offer. I know the NFL sends current/former players over to Europe all the time to help grow the game. I'd hope they have information on getting more involved down the road. With you being in high school, it's going to be fascinating to see how the global impact of the game develops in the next 5-to-10 years.

Anthony P. (Bellflower, CA)

Wassup boss colts4life!!!!, But question #1. Do you see us going after maclin because of the history our new GM has with Kansas City? I mean think about it. u would have kamar, maclin, ty (slot), moncrief switching between x and y & of course dorsett getting his reps at slot as well. Tell me what u think about that.

Question #2. What do you think they are gonna do with mingo and Ayers? I feel both are sound speed rushers with Ayers being a little more athletic in space. People forget how good he was for us at the end of the year last season.

Question #3. What's the word on ty micgil, is he hurt? 

Question #4. How do you feel about this lineup for our starting D. FS Hooker. SS Clayton gathers if healthy, tj green if he can develop, and I also like Lee hightower and Tyson ghram. 

CB1 Vontae. CB2 Melvin. CB3/slot morris, Milton, or Nate could get that spot, I even like the undrafted dude out of utah, Porter

OLBL Simom/bashem (with bashem being only subsituted in on pass rush situations or any other packages. OLBR jabaal/ ayers 

ILB1 Edwin Jackson/jon bostic. ILB2 Sean spence/Antonio morison. 

DEL henrey Anderson/McGill NT hankins/woods. DER Langford/Perry

Bowen: 1. I don't. Check out this mailbag for more on that question. 2. I look at both of these guys right behind Jabaal Sheard and John Simon. Throw in third-round pick Tarell Basham and you have a trio of edge rushers to work with for depth purposes. 3. McGill is not hurt. He's been participating this offseason. He's going to be in a battle for a roster spot with such a crowded defensive line. You like his pass rush though from the interior, which could separate him in arguably the most competitive position group to make the team. 4. I don't think you have room for Hightower and Graham. Sheard is going to start at outside linebacker. The rest looks pretty good, although David Parry is more of an interior backup, whereas Hassan Ridgeway should factor in just behind the starting defensive line.

Ethan W. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hey Kevin, you said you would like to hear from me again and here I am.
1) I see Anthony Walker being a solid starter in a few years, but my question lies in how much do you think they will value his leadership and mind vs. his actual level of talent? I view him a C+ to B- level talent, however his value could be around B+ when you take into account how he reads and communicates with the rest of the defense. I believe if he shows he can boost the effectiveness of the rest of the guys he could be in the mix a lot after next year. Thanks again, just wanted your input.

Bowen: This is a good question. I'm curious how much the Colts will focus on the leadership qualities of their future at inside linebacker. Ideally, that position would come with a player that brings that to the defense. The Colts are searching for new leadership on the defensive side of the ball. I tend to side more with your thinking in that a strong communicator can definitely be a deciding factor in putting a player in a lineup. Walker comes into the NFL with that on his resume. It might not happen as a rookie, but I think Walker could be a definite starter down the road.

H.J. C. (Norfolk, VA)

I am a long time Colts fan from the days of JohnnyU,Raymond B,Jimmy O,and of course no24 LennyM.This is my first time in ColtsMailBag.You do a marvelous job with this mailbag my man.Keep up the good work. I have 2 questions-why did Mr.Irsey rehire R.Grisgson then fire him.Is Irsey still paying for that very well educated and long overdue move today? I like the wide receivers wearing the numbers in the 80s on the back of their uniform so don't our guys do that-like Chester Rogers? Thanks  GO COLTS!!

Bowen: Appreciate the kind words. With Grigson, he was in Indy for five seasons, which is a pretty decent run for an NFL GM. When things started to spiral in a different direction the last two years, that's when Irsay felt the need to make a change. In terms of wide receiver numbers, over the years I think you've seen more and more numbers emerge. In college, guys can wear all sorts of numbers. The NFL has more restrictions, but we see more wideouts in the 10-to-15 number range. Sometimes roster mechanics dictates jersey numbers or if there is a true meaning behind why a player wants a certain number.

RC H. (Tacoma, WA)

Hey Kevin, 
I just wanted to take a break from football talk. I was curious if the colts are the only organization that do the weekly mailbag for their fans?.

Bowen: I think a majority of teams do some sort of mailbag. Most are shorter than the two posts each week, but I really try to answer all questions/subjects covered in the inbox.

Benny F. (El Paso, TX)

Quick question who is your favorite NFL player of all time? Mine is Reggie Wayne (da GOAT).

Bowen: Hmm, no one immediately comes to mind. I really enjoyed how Troy Polamalu played the game of football. Always flying around and making plays with that hair flopping around.

Adam S. (Cedar Lake, IN)

Im seeing reports that Derek Carr will be making $25 million per year with an extension, making him the paired quarterback, and more than Andrew Luck. Luck earned his money by not having a losing season. Carr has had a losing season every year besides last year, am I correct on that? Why should he earn more money than Luck when he hasn't performed as well as luck?

Bowen: Life in the NFL. Derek Carr's three seasons in the NFL had these win totals: 3, 7 and 13. But when you are a young quarterback who just put together an MVP-caliber season, the $$$ signs are going to light up nearing the end of a rookie contract. That's how business works for quarterbacks in this league. They push the needle big time for deals and Luck is only going to continue to see guys pass him with how contracts inevitably grow. Yes, the winning percentages are much different for Luck and Carr, but I get why the Raiders feel the need to dish out that sort of money for their man under center.

Mark M. (Utah)

Hi Kevin, I know that you don't necessarily know the mind of Chris Ballard/Chuck Pagano on this but with our new look defense, why do you think we didn't throw Ted Monachino out with the rest of the proverbial bath-water? I understand the need for continuity but that is all foregone when we will have 7-9 new starters on defense. Thanks!

Bowen: I think it's clear Chuck Pagano and Chris Ballard thought the defensive struggles last year were more associated with personnel, than coaching. The upheaval in the defensive faces has come and now Monachino will be evaluated with a virtually new-look unit. I'm sure 2017 will offer a better evaluation of Monachino after just one year as a coordinator with more than a handful of aging defenders.

Cody S. (Indianapolis)

Here are my madden rating predictions( not sure if you're familiar with madden) and what they should be in the (__).
Luck-88(should be 92)
Gore-82(same) Turbin-76(77) Mack- 67(67)
T.Y Hilton-91(94) Moncrief-78(80) Aiken-78(77) Dorsett-70(70) Rodgers-69(73) 
Doyle- 80(83) Swoope- 69(72)
Castonzo- 81(83) Mewhort- 82(85) Kelly-83(86) Haeg- 73(76) Clark-68(72)
Langford-78(79) Ridgeway-69(74)
Hankins-79(82) Woods-73(72) McGill-70(71) Stewart-65(65)
Anderson-75(78) Hunt-68(68)
Simon-78(80) Basham-71(73) Mingo-76(72)
Spence-73(75) Jackson- 72(74)Morrison-70(72)
Bostic-72(73) Walker-67(69)
Sheard-79(82) Ayers-76(75)
Davis-83(83) Wilson- 74(75) Melvin-72(75) Morris-70(72) Mitchell-70(70) Hairston-67(67)
Geathers-80(84) Hooker-79(81) Butler-78(80) Green-69(70)
Special teams
Vinny- 82(85) 
Locke- 76(76)
Thank you for your mailbags, they keep me updated in the colts as a huge fan. Many of these players I think will finish the season rated higher, but these are my predictions for now. What are your thoughts?

Bowen: Cody, it's been a while since I've played Madden. My initial thoughts on the rankings: I think Moncrief, Hankins, Sheard and Davis should be slightly higher. I always remember being puzzled at some of the rankings back in my early days of playing the game.

Nick M. (Kokomo, IN)

Hi Kevin, 

I'm considering buying season tickets for the first time. Although I've been to Lucas Oil Stadium a couple times and it was great it has always been a seat in one of the middle sections. For the season tickets all I would be able to afford are the sections furthest back. So, my question is how good is the view of the game back there, and are season tickets cheaper if you buy them immediately after the end of the last season or are they about the same all offseason. 

Thank You,

Bowen: Nick, head here to the ticket office for your inquiries. They can help you out and offer a better idea of your view.

Matt H. (Metea, IN)

AS a Colts fan since 1987 (yes the strike year ) I was 12 at that time, of course seen ups and downs. My question, The Colts seem to have a wonderful promotion/community activity department. Mr. Irsay seems to really try and spend money on getting the local commmunity involved. Are there any other owners that do the same thing for their cities, states and fans? Even during Mr. Irsay's rough times, he always comes out a champ. A total class act. I know he has had some bad press about spending money on drums, guitars, books, etc. But who else in the NFL does for the commmunity like he does. Many Colts fans want to get a players autograph, meet a player, get a signed football, but let me shake hands with Mr. Irsay, thats my dream. A great business man, and better yet a better person. We could have Jerry Jones, thank God we have Jim. Any thoughts? Thanks for keeping us Colts fans feel part of Colts Nation Mr. Bowen.

Bowen: I'm sure there are certainly other owners around the NFL heavily involved in their communities. We just don't hear about it as much because of where we live. At the same time, you hear people talk who have been around other NFL organizations, and they absolutely rave about Irsay and his impact with a variety of charitable endeavors. Irsay understands how important the Indianapolis community is to his team. Even Chris Ballard has said that Irsay's passion was a major factor in the GM wanting to join the Colts this offseason.

John K. (Syracuse, NY)

Hello Kevin,

I Love the Mail bag. I have a couple of questions, 

First on the defense, With all the new faces, I have read you mention about Pagano simplifying the defense. My question is even with a subset of defensive plays, cant we still disguise our coverages and have more people moving around pre-snap similar to what the Ravens used to do when Ray Lewis was in the middle. I think we were to stationary last year and that gave the opposing QB an easy time reading what we are doing. Thoughts?

Second, Offensively i think we huddled too much. IN the Peyton years it seemed that we were much quicker to the line, and I also liked that we didn't have many recievers in Motion. Marv on one side and Reggie on the other. I think we should go back to that model, because having everyone reset and move around in some cases seems counter productive. Do you see us trying that and/or more quick slants instead of seven step drops to protect Luck. Also please tell Andrew to use the pump fake and double move more .

Thanks for your time.

Bowen: 1. Definitely. Just because things might be a bit simpler doesn't necessary mean it will look vanilla to opposing offenses. The Colts have to vary their looks especially with the front in order to apply the needed defensive pressure. You don't have an individual pass rusher who can line up off the edge snap after snap and get home to the quarterback (like Robert Mathis in 2013. 2. I do think we could see more tempo from the offense in 2017. You wonder how much Luck's limited practice time last year hindered the Colts from using more pace.

Tim R. (Alpharetta, GA)

At Pagano's last press conference, he seemed impressed with Dante Blackmon's skill set and Football IQ. Starting to wonder if Ballard may have found some nice value in this undrafted rookie? Any thoughts on Dante's performance so far?

Bowen: That was a surprising name for Chuck Pagano to mention. The Colts signed Blackmon as an undrafted free agent after their rookie minicamp in May. So clearly Blackmon began impressing then. I must admit I haven't watched Blackmon specifically too much. He's clearly a name to keep an eye on when Training Camp rolls around in late July. I do think there's room for a young corner sneaking onto the roster (see more below).

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! With the rush of over/unders, I figured we should let you in on the fun! Give us 5 of the most important, most interesting, or most telling targets for the 2017 season and which side of the fence you lean towards.

Bowen: Okay, a little spin on things. A. 12 games played for Clayton Geathers. If you're a Colts fan, this number really, really needs to be over. I have no clue how he's going to come back from that neck injury, but I think this is a critical one for an improved defense in 2017. B. 8.5 sacks for Jabaal Sheard. I will say over. And I think it needs to be over. The Colts would be well served if they found an individual sacker that was able to put together a double-digit sack season. It would obviously help the defense but also give the Colts a pass rusher that other teams must game plan for. C. 7.5 starters on the offensive line this season. I'm stealing this from a mailbag a few weeks back. I like this one. Based off performance, I think this will be under. Now, will injuries cause this number to rise towards 9 or 10 starting linemen this season. I'm going to say this is slightly under, meaning the line play should be improved. D. 60 catches for Donte Moncrief. The Colts need a healthy No. 2 wideout to play opposite Vontae Davis. If Moncrief can give this team right around 70 grabs this coming season, that would be huge for this offense. I'm going to say right around 65 catches for Moncrief. E. 5 plays of at least 20 yards for Marlon Mack. This might be a little too random. I'm going with it though. I look at Mack as an X-factor for this offense with his game-breaking ability. Could he provide a few chunk plays when touching the ball this season? If so, I believe the offense makes another jump forward. I'll go with under, just because 5 might be a little too much.

Zach M. (Rochester, NY)

Hello Kevin thanks again for keeping us fans up to date and season ready with your articles. I have a quick question we signed tyvis Powell which I like but we cut Reggie Porter who I thought Ballard said was one of his favorite UDFA this year I thought if they would cut anyone from the secondary early on it would be Tyson Graham or Lee Hightower so I guess my question is why did Ballard give up on someone he was so high on about a month ago was his college injury still lingering perhaps?
Thanks again Kevin looking forward to your take on this!

Bowen: Ballard has made it clear he will have no ties to guys in terms of where they are drafted, the type of contract they have, etc. He watched Porter for a month. Clearly, Porter was viewed as expendable on the 90-man roster. Now, Powell was listed as a defensive back. I know Seattle thought he had some corner potential. It will be interesting to see how Powell is initially used in Indy. With former Seattle personnel man Ed Dodds now in Indianapolis, the Colts have made several moves lately for former Seahawks.

Ian W. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hey Kevin thanks again. Do you think the new cut for the NFL will provide a very good free agents right away, enough to make the Colt's pounce on some cb's who will be cut from good teams? I feel like we still need depth at conor back even after the draft. All we have is Wilson that can actually cover besides Vontae. But if they get injured either one, we will be screwed on D. Who will be the back up who proves great at cb?

Bowen: Cornerback is a position I could see the Colts exploring after the final cut down this preseason. I'm not sure if the new rule will greatly impact how those cuts come about, but that should not alter cornerback being a need for the Colts. During the offseason program, we've seen Rashaan Melvin, Chris Milton and Tevin Mitchel earn some first-team reps. Rookie Nate Hairston, a fifth-round pick in April, is someone I'd like to see more out of in Training Camp.

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