INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com 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:Dan A. (Muncie, IN)
I'm seeing Mike Adams, Trent Cole, Erik Walden, and Robert Mathis as free agents after this season. Darius Butler sounds like a guy that is going to come back at a different position (CB to FS). I personally feel like Arthur Jones and D'Qwell Jackson will be released before the 2017 season. All of this will free up a lot of cap space but will leave some major holes as well. Do you think we are in for a major overhaul of personnel on the defense this off season or do you imagine a few of these players coming back?
Bowen: I could definitely see a few of these guys back. But the turnover on defense is going to continue to take a major shift. It has to for that unit to improve. The future on defense has to come from the past couple of drafts and again in 2016. This team needs game changers on that side of the ball. From the names above, Darius Butler and Erik Walden make a lot of sense. They both had really nice 2016 campaigns. Butler has the versatility to be a starting safety in this league. Walden was easily your most productive individual pass rusher. You want to get younger off the edge for sure, but Walden still brings value and could be a veteran presence if that group takes a much younger look on next season. With regard to Jones, Ryan Grigson had this to say on Monday's radio show about possibly parting ways with Jones: "We are going to wait until the off-season before we make any kind of determination on anybody. He is under contract. When Art played this year, he was a force on early downs. He's a factor in our run-defensive package. I thought he did some nice things and kind of put his head down. He had some issues that he had to deal with that humbled him. I really thought he responded well given what he had been through. He didn't say a word and just fought hard and played hard and he showed up against the run."
Jeffrey K. (Colquitt, GA)
Hey Mr. Kevin what a tough loss we suffered to a great team but I have a few questions for you
- Now that we are eliminated from playoff contention we can focus on the draft our obvious needs are OLB,CB,ILB,RB,DL. Dont get me wrong I like Morrison and Edwin Jackson at ILB but we could also use some taller faster linebackers that can cover RB'S & TE'S and a dominant NOSE TACKLE because you have to have that to have a good 3-4 defense.
- What free agents do you see us bringing back and which studs on defense do you think we can afford in free agency I like Trumaine Johnson or JPP or Melvin Ingram either one is fine with me.
- Is there a chance we could trade a few of our players for draft picks or let go of some aging veterans for more money and let younger players develop
Thanks for your time Mr. Bowen have a great day
Bowen: We get into several of your questions throughout the mailbag, so let's concentrate on No. 3 here. The Colts have gone down the route of releasing older players before (LaRon Landry, Ricky Jean Francois, even Bjoern Werner and Trent Richardson), so don't be surprised at all if it happens again. I don't necessarily think the trading of guys will lead to too much value. I don't see a position group with tremendous expendable depth that would lead to a trade for a middle-round pick.
Zac N. (Indiana)
Hey Kevin I was really disappointed in the outcome of the Raiders game. I have two questions.
- How come when the stage is at its highest and the Colts' best players need to play like it, they don't show up? I'm talking about games like the Houston in week 14, and the Oakland last Sunday. But back to the Raiders game, where was Luck? The two interceptions he threw were downright awful. On both of them T.Y. wasn't open at all. Too many times in big games he and many others don't show up and it kills this team.
- How come the Colts wait until they're being thoroughly beaten for them to start playing good football? Mr. Stephen Holder, Zak Keefer, and Greg Doyel said it perfectly: Why do they play their best football when they have nothing to lose? During the Raiders game they get down by 26 and then suddenly realize they might want to do something. Why not start the game like that instead of when it's too late? It becomes very frustrating to watch week in and week out. Thanks Kevin. Happy New Year
Bowen: 1. As Dwayne Allen said after Saturday's loss, the team's "stars" (outside of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton) didn't do enough this season. Luck's interceptions were not good. But with Luck, he does so much good that his fault isn't indicative of why this team won't be in the playoffs this year. Remember, Luck is on pace for a career-year in completion percentage and quarterback rating. The two losses this year to Houston were where this season was lost for the Colts. In the first one, the defense could not cap a 14-point lead with half a quarter to go. Then in the second, the offense (including Luck) did not play to its potential. 2. The resiliency part of the Colts is something this team prides itself on. But they had to rely on it far too many times in 2016. It's a great quality, but not when you have to use it virtually every other week. The Colts were just 1-6 in games following wins this season, and that lone win came after a bye week. So the Colts, technically, never won games in two consecutive weeks this season. If you do that, you aren't finishing above .500. I wish I had a better answer for you in why the Colts struggled this season in seizing earlier opportunities, thus avoiding the miracle sort of scenarios needed in December.
Stan C. (Minneapolis)
Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for your hard work for us fans. I'm sure you'll have some irate and frustrated ones to talk to this week. I've got a question about our esteemed owner, Mr. Jim Irsay.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Mr. Irsay's response to this season has been his quotes about the team's record. When the team was 6-7, he claimed they easily could have been 10-3. I assume he means that there had been 4 losses by that point that were within a touchdown. However, by the same logic, we had 4 wins (5 if you include the 8-point win @TEN) by then that were within a touchdown as well. A claim that the team could've been 2-11 would be just as valid as saying they could've been 10-3.
Irsay has brought up the team's "potential record" multiple times, including saying they could've been 6-0 to start. Has any member of the press corps countered with the other side of his boasts during the course of the season? If so, how did Mr. Irsay respond? If not, why haven't they challenged him on this?
Bowen: Jim Irsay hasn't spoken to the local media this season. That's not unusual for him. He typically talks briefly at Owner's meetings during the year. But within a season, the head coach is normally the lone voice for the team. Ryan Grigson also has a weekly radio show where he fields calls from fans. I would guess Irsay talks with the media at some point after the season. He always does at the League Meetings in March. That is why you haven't heard from Irsay on a local scale, from the people who cover the team on a daily basis.
Michael L. (Greenwood, IN)
My questions are 1)what is our cap in 2017 2)what free agent should we target 3)who should we resign
Bowen: 1. Based off Over The Cap, the Colts have about $42.5 million going into the off-season. That of course will/could change based off who the Colts re-sign and if they decide to part ways with anyone in the next couple of months. 2. Positions of need I look to in free agency: outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback. I could see defensive line being in that mix, too. 3. Earlier this week, I touched on five unrestricted free agents who are making very strong cases to being re-signed.
Craig M. (Clarksville, IN)
I have several questions but only a few i will ask. 1) what do you see our starting OLine being next year. Do you think Clark will be in there if he develops between now and then? 2) what do you think of us picking up Melvin Ingram off of free agency? 3) i like the pick up of Melvin this season. Do you think that he could start opposite of Vontae and Robinson go to the slot where he's more comfortable? If that happens we could resign butler to be a safety if Adams decides to retire which I hope he doesn't. 4) lastly, I've seen a lot of mock drafts having us get different linebackers and dalvin cook but who do you think would be a great first round pick for us based off of current position in the draft?
Bowen: 1. Has a question changed more in the past few weeks? After playing six total offensive snaps through the first 14 weeks of the season, Le'Raven Clark has started the last two games. With Clark in there starting, the Colts haven't allowed a sack---the first time in Andrew Luck's career they haven't given up a sack in two straight weeks. Right now, I'm going to go with a line of LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Jack Mewhort, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Joe Haeg and RT-Le'Raven Clark for 2017. But don't forget about Denzelle Good/Joe Reitz. It's just two games, but Clark deserves strong consideration as a starter. 2. I could see it. I'm a believer in the Colts going out and getting an edge rusher in free agency, along with the draft. 3. I understand you're thinking, but what about Darius Butler? Butler is a free agent. Is he a starting safety in 2017 for the Colts? Is he still playing for the Colts? Is he back to his nickel spot next season? Robinson and Butler do give you some versatility (and even Darryl Morris has had some nice moments from the slot position). 4. An edge rusher. Period.
Jeff P. (Bristol, CT)
Let's talk D. Every year Colt fans want a better D but want to keep most of the current players. Who on the roster now would you keep as starters? Bench? Who do you let go?
DE. Ridgeway. Anderson
DT. Sokoli. Kerr
NT. Parry. McGill
LCB. Butler, Melvin, Morris
RCB. Davis, James, Melvin
OLB . Walden, Mount, Mathis, Cole, Ayers Carter.
INL. E. Jackson, Morrison, McNary, Rhodes, King
SS. Adams, Farley.
FS. Green, Williams.
IR. Geathers, Jones, Langford, Robinson, Maggitt.
If I made the call.
Keep. Ridgeway, Anderson, Parry,Butler, Davis, E Jackson, Morrison, Kerr, Langford,Geathers, Green, Maggitt are Locks to keep.
BUBBLE Boys. Walden, Ayers, Robinson, Mount, Melvin, McGill, Adams.
Bowen: For me, guys like Ayers, Robinson, Melvin and McGiill are probably not going anywhere. They are all under contract. Remember, you can't just part ways with everyone. Find some replacements in the draft and free agency and that will impact things of what the defense exactly looks like in 2017.