Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Is A Speedy Running Back Needed To Complement Frank Gore?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about Peyton Manning retiring as a Colt, if the team will use a fullback in 2016 and the team’s wideout group heading into next season.

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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 or Saturday mailbag.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Don W. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin,

I know a lot of people keep saying we need to grab an OL in the first round, but I don't think that's the case. Everyone wants to talk about the O-line when Peyton was here, but most people could only give you two players names from the O-Line (Saturday and Glenn). Coaching the line was the key! Howard Mudd was awesome at getting the most out of our O-line! We were always switching players on the line other than Glenn and Saturday. Heck when we won the Super Bowl Ryan Diem went out and Charlie Johnson came in and Peyton didn't even notice the change until the end of the game! So first is there a chance Mudd could come in as a consultant to help Philbin? I hope Philbin can come close to doing the same as Mudd! Here is How I would like to see the Colts Draft this year, First round Pass Rusher - Hopefully Noah Spence, Second round Corner - Either Mackensie Alexander or Eli Apple, Third round Center - either Ryan Kelly or Nick Martin, fourth round running back - Jordan Howard. then best available for the rest of the rounds. Your thoughts.

Bowen: I don't think Howard Mudd will be a consultant. However, I do think you are making a solid point about how important coaching is to that unit. When Jim Irsay sits down with an assistant coach that should speak volumes into how the Colts Owner views the importance of that position. Phibiln's track record as a position coach, albeit a while ago, is pretty impressive on the line. That's what the Colts are hoping for by bringing in the former Packers assistant and Dolphins head coach.

Michael D. (Atlanta)

What's stopping the Colts from going after a young veteran running back with break way speed. I like Gore however he's a complimenting running back this part of his career the colts need to pickup young back that can carry the load and bring Gore in to rest him.

Bowen: Michael, I think you are onto something from a "change of pace" standpoint. Finding a running back with some elusiveness and speed in the receiving game would give the Colts a nice complement to Frank Gore. Now, I think the Colts need to a find a young running back, period. Not a veteran one. Gore isn't going to run until he's 40 years old so a rookie back (one with some change of pace?) would be ideal for the Colts current running back group.

Jason C. (England)

Hi Kevin, do you think that there is a chance the colts could bring in Matt Forte ti give Gore some help? Or will they stick to developing a younger RB?

Also any idea how many people from Indy will be traveling over to Wembley for the Jags game? Got mt tickets! Thanks.

Bowen: I think they still stick with developing a younger running back. There's not enough money available to have so much tied into Gore and then Matt Forte. The Colts have to start getting younger at the running back position. As far as a number of people from Indianapolis traveling to London for next year's game at Wembley Stadium, that number is still growing. Bullseye Event Group has put together a package for fans wanting to make the trip over and information on that is here.

Dave H. (Sebring, FL)

WHY IS PEOPLE WANTING MANNING TO RETIRE A COLT, I WOULD FIGURE HE WOULD RETIRE WITH THE BRONCOS,SINCE HE PLAYS FOR THEM AND NOT INDY?? FOR ME IT HIS DECISSION AND HE SHOULD RETIRE WITH THE TEAM HE PLAYING FOR NOT THE COLTS!!!

Bowen: Yes, ultimately it is Peyton Manning's decision on what team he wants to "retire" with. But, at the same time, I can see why Colts fans want Manning to join the team for a day and then retire. What Manning has done for Indianapolis extends well beyond the winningest decade in NFL history, highlighted by Super Bowl XLI. Recently, we've seen Dallas Clark and Jeff Saturday return from stops with other teams to retire with the team they've played with for the bulk of their careers.

Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)

Greetings, Kevin! With the Colts' coaching staff being finalized last week, I was curious for your thoughts on owner Jim Irsay's comments about continuity. More specifically, the dichotomy between praising continuity and stability with HC Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson while scrapping the vast majority of their underlying staff.

Now, let's be clear: as a fan, I don't know the size of the responsibility/impact gap between the HC/GM and the coordinators/positional coaches. It's possible that I'm overreacting and that the supporting staff can be tweaked without affecting the underlying continuity of the HC/GM pairing.

From the outside looking in, though, I feel like we as fans have been fed a line by Jim Irsay. It's tough to hear him say that stability and continuity are his focuses when the staff has seen so much overhaul, including both major coordinators in the past 3-4 months.

I feel like Irsay made a decision on Grigson and Pagano for whatever personal reasons he did, then thought that "continuity" was a buzzword that would justify the move with fans. The arguments about the merits/faults of those extensions have been made before and I won't rehash them here. My focus is on contrasting the word continuity with the extensive overhaul of the coaching staff that we've seen. Your thoughts?

Bowen: When the 2015 season ended, you knew changes were inevitable. Even when Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson received extensions and "continuity" was kept at the top, that didn't mean everything was going to be the same amongst the coaching staff. When Irsay often mentioned the word "continuity" during that press conference in early January, he was talking about the guys sitting on each side of him. Once defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was let go the following day, you knew the staff changes were coming. A new coordinator is going to want some say in what that unit's coaching staff looks like below him. Again, I think when Irsay was stressing "continuity" he meant it with the main decisions makers (Pagano/Grigson). Then with two new coordinators in place, the trickle down to the positions coaches was inevitable.

Andrea F. (Lecce, Italy)

hi kevin im a colts fan since 2006 and i am a really serious fan ive watched every game even with the 7 hour difference there is in italy....i was wondering about the draft and i think it would be a big mistake to take an o line man first round what we really need is a CB im pretty sure Mackensie Alexander will fall to our 18th pick...or perhaps get sean smith in FA and an outside linebacker..what do you think PLEASE WRITE BACK C:

do you think we could pick up a CB in first?and if yes do you have any names?

Bowen: Andrea, we are starting to see more and more Mock Drafts with the Colts being a possible destination for cornerback come Round One. If the Colts can find a definite starting cornerback in free agency or the draft, that would go a long way in solidifying that position, plus aiding the pass rush in 2016. I've seen some mocks where Alexander doesn't reach No. 18. Other names to watch would be Eli Apple (Ohio State) and Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech), just to name a few.

Izzy O. (San Diego, CA)

Hey Kevin, What are the chances that the Colts pick up Courtney Upshaw in FA, we just signed his former coach (Monachino) as a DC, I feel like that relationship they had will bring him to become a star OLB with the colts. In FA we should pick up these Free Agents : Tashaun Gipson(FS Browns) Alex Mack (Center Browns) Doug Martin(HB Bucs) and my favorite; Danny Trevathan (ILB Broncos).The needs I think the colts need to address in the draft is 1st; LB - Reggie Ragland, Jaylon Smith or CB; Mackensie Alexander. I know we definitely need a OL for Andrew but in the first we need to pick up an instant impact player on defense cause this draft is full of them.. in the 2nd; RG & 3rd; C or CB - William Jackson III (depending on if we go CB or not in the first). Hopefully Grigson has no say, we all remember him picking up Dorsett, when Landon Collins should have fell right into our lap. Last thing, sooo many old bucks on the Colts Defense, where do you think we should get younger at instantly? I think it's safety.

Bowen: Izzy, the Colts wish they had the money to sign all the free agents on your wish list. You are on the right track though with where I think the need to get younger should be first. At inside linebacker you have D'Qwell Jackson (32 years old) and a free agent in Jerell Freeman (turns 30 years old in May) potentially going into 2016. Even if Freeman is retained, ILB remains my biggest area to get younger. I think you can make a strong argument for cornerback, outside linebacker and safety to follow that position group.

Richard L. (Indiana)

OK I've been a colts fan since the nineties.However my question is about the probowl.Now I never watch the game it just incredibly boring.I have an idea perhaps a suggestion that the NFL should make the game meaningful.My suggestion go back to the conference style format the team that wins that game afc or nfc will have the superbowl hosting city 2 years out afc wins afc city hosts you get the point.Obviously it would take that much time to prepare what are your thoughts?

Bowen: Wow, I see what you're getting at Richard, but I just can't envision this coming to fruition. Hosting a Super Bowl is a massive, massive ordeal. You can't compare it to MLB when both World Series teams will be hosting a couple of games in the series. It takes more than two years to prep a city for everything that comes with a Super Bowl. I do agree with you that the Pro Bowl has to be more competitive. The same could be said for the NBA All-Star game we saw on Sunday. But if you're a player, and there's little incentive to win/go 110 percent then I understand why the product has looked so lousy. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that changes need to happen to the game. The problem is, I just haven't heard of any great ideas that would all of a sudden flip the game from being pretty much two-hand touch in the fourth quarter.

Yolanza C. (Waterloo, IA)

Hello Mr.Bowen big fan but do you think the colts receiving core could ever be considered elite? I mean ty kind of had a down year Donte was solid but had some games where he didn't show up and Andre Johnson sometimes disappeared in the offense your thoughts

Bowen: Last year, (for several reasons), the Colts wideout group did not reach the potential talked about in the offseason. Many thought (including this guy), that the Colts would be one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL. Andrew Luck's health certainly played a substantial role in this group not reaching the lofty heights I expected. I would think with a healthy Luck, and with what Frank Gore showed in 2015, the Colts offense should be quite potent through the air in 2016.

Patrick T. (Germany)

Hey Kevin,

today I wanna ask / talk about Andrew Lucks new contract or generally speaking about "Franchise-QB" contracts.

I personally have a problem with Franchise players eaten up too much cap space. Don't get me wrong, I do believe Luck deserves to be paid big money. He's awesome and one of the best QBs, possibly soon the best QB in the league. But isn't football a team sport, as it is pointed out so often? Isn't it about winning it all? Winning the Lombardy Trophy? Setting records etc?

But even if you are the best player who ever set his foot on the turf, you can't do it without a team. Receivers in order to catch you record setting passes. A RB to get pressure of your chest. An offensive line to buy you some time. And ultimately a massive defense to get you back out there as soon as possible to do it all again.

Yes I get it, a good or even excellent QB is hard to find and they deserve to be paid higher than other players / position groups. But as a starting QB especially as a so called franchise QB, you aren't really threatened by poverty if you don't have a max contract. Do some commercials, talk about drinking some Budweiser after you won the Super Bowl and it's all good. How can you, as the face and leader of the franchise, be okay with having a 30 million cap hit (Brees) while your team stinks (obviously Saints)?

As you could see in recent weeks, there is only one thing that really matters for a QB and his legacy: RINGS! How many Super Bowl rings do you have on your fingers. Not how much money did you earn.

Yes, I know Jim Irsay said Andrew Lucks contract must be as team-friendly as possible, but also that it will be "shocking" with more than 20 million annually.

How do you see Andrew Luck personally? Do you think he would take a contract which doesn't pay him more than avg. 20 million per year? A contract which would pay him less than Russel Wilson and Cam Newton (or the likes of Joe Flacco, Colin Kapernick and Ryan Tannehill) but would ultimately improve the team?

I'd really like him to be the player, saying "I'll make my money anyway, let's invest the money in the team."

Patrick

Bowen: Patrick, I understand what you're getting at. Yes, it sounds great but this sort of stuff just doesn't happen. The NFLPA would not be pleased if Luck took a significant pay cut and therefore severely drove down the future market value at the quarterback position. I don't view Luck as a "greedy" guy, but he deserves the contract he's going to get. Jim Irsay mentioned that the hope is to structure the contract in a way so that the Colts can still build more than enough around No. 12 for continued success.

Bryce H. (Madison, IN)

To the importance of bolstering our o-line will we in this draft look to getting a true fullback to be able to run out of the I-formations instead of accepting lesser play at the position by tight-ends? If we can beef up and move defenders we limit the amount of times our line has to be put in one on one situations in 3rd and long as we to often found ourselves. Is this the year we finally see the true vision of a Pagano led team playing ball control and limit opponents possessions by winning on 3rd downs on both sides of the ball?

Bowen: I don't envision an exclusive fullback on the roster. I still believe Rob Chudzinski will be looking for some versatility from the tight end spot and ability to use that position as an h-back/fullback. We've seen Jack Doyle fill that role more than adequately in past years. As far as the true vision of what we will see in 2016, I think that falls more on what Chud is wanting for from his offense. We never got to see his true imprint on things with the injury to Andrew Luck last season. In past offenses led by Chud, we've seen the quarterback position flourish.

Connor F. (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

Would the Colts be willing to trade up to draft Joey Bosa? This is a serious need for the tea or do you think drafting where they currently are is the best option!

Bowen: We've had this question before and I don't see my stance changing too much on it. I just think the asking price would be way too steep to move into the top-five and draft the Ohio State defensive lineman. Moving up in the draft is always costly. Moving up 13 some picks into the top-five would really diminish the remaining picks of the Colts. I think the Colts could use help at several spots, therefore I'd like to keep as many picks as possible so you can potentially find a Henry Anderson/Clayton Geathers/David Parry in the latter rounds.

Leonardo B. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Forget the 18th spot in draft. Who do you think is the best rookie fit for Colts?

Bowen: Well, I assume you are asking who do I think is the best overall prospect, regardless of the likeliness they are available at pick No. 18? If you've read past mailbags, you know my affinity for finding a defensive playmaker in the draft. I don't have a really strong preference on what level of the defense that player is at. Whether it's defensive lineman Joey Bosa, linebacker Jaylon Smith or cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they all would fit this criteria. Now, the chances of any of these prospects lasting past pick No. 10 are slim to none (unless Smith falls, due to medicals).

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

In the early 2000s, there was the Peyton-to-Marvin combination that set the league on fire, as their offense at the time was very potent, not to mention Edgerrin James. However, up until this season, our offense has been booming, with T.Y. Hilton at WR, and Fleener and Allen at TE just recently. This season, however, has been bittersweet, and even though we went 8-8, there were many positives, such as Donte Moncrief becoming a bright spot in our offense. My question for you, is do you see Indy keeping Moncrief, and if you do, how do you see us succeeding with Hilton and Moncrief as 2 dangerous wide receivers, or do you see our 2015 1st round pick Jacoby Brissett potentially being better in the coming seasons?

Bowen: We had a couple of questions this week on the wide receiver group. Last year, Donte Moncrief saw a major increase in his playing time, often challenging T.Y. Hilton for most playing time at the receiver position each week. Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett are all under contract for the next two seasons so the Colts should have a trio of explosive pass catchers to turn to on the outside. Moncrief and Hilton are your top two guys. That's a given. Dorsett's role in 2016 should obviously expand, but it's too early to know how much he will challenge for No. 1 type targets in his second NFL season.

Roger S. (Kokomo, IN)

Really enjoy reading your answers here. It seems the Colts took a long time in reorganizing and filling coaching positions this offseason. I get the impression that coach Pagano is getting a lot more say as to who he wants, and where in the coaching staff. Your thoughts?

Bowen: I would say Pagano definitely had say in what was done on the coaching staff this offseason. Look no further than his first hire---defensive coordinator Ted Monachino. Pagano and Monachnio worked together in Baltimore and now will try to change the narrative on the Colts defense. Now, when you look at the other changes, there aren't a bunch of ties to Pagano, but it's clear with so many new coaches there was a directive from above to improve the staff. Like the question above, we had another inquiry sent in this week about how management goes about finding new coaches. I assure you it's a collaborative effort with recommendations going a long, long way in seeing who gets interviews. You look at the resumes of the new staff and it's impossible to find a similarity between the group.

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