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:Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)
Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for your hard work. I'm writing this before the season finale, so I'm sure you'll have plenty of questions about season-ending/offseason topics between now and Wednesday. For me, though, I want to ask about a influential player from this year's draft, Joe Haeg.
When he was drafted, I envisioned h as a smaller version of Joe Reitz: a Swiss Army knife that can be plugged in as a swingman. He exceeded my predictions, starting at 3 positions as a rookie. Two quick questions: in a vacuum, which position do you think is his most natural NFL fit? And on a related note, which position do you think he falls into for this squad in the coming years?
Bowen: I'm with you, Stan. When the Colts drafted Joe Haeg, I immediately thought of Joe Reitz. But he showed to be more than just a versatile reserve as a rookie. Haeg proved to be a starter from pretty much Day One (after he recovered from a preseason ankle injury). Even though Haeg didn't play any guard at the collegiate level, that's the position he's settled into during the second half of 2016. I think the Colts will look to right guard for Haeg's position of the future. Le'Raven Clark has pretty much been used only at tackle in his first season. So with Clark at right tackle and Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, you have an opening with Haeg at right guard. The staff clearly looks at Haeg as one of their best linemen so I think guard is the spot he will be at come 2017. It's a good problem to have though when you are looking at Denzelle Good, Jonotthan Harrison and Joe Reitz as backups going into 2017.
Nick M. (Cheektowaga, NY)
Hey do you think with the way Mo Alie-Cox has been used in the weeks prior that the colts are almost giving him a audition to see if he can be the number 2 TE for the future with jack doyle becoming a free agent? (I hope they keep doyle but who knows)
Secondly i think we found our offensive line of the future the way they where opening holes for gore and keeping pressure off luck was a thing of beauty that we have not seen in a while but my question is even without Mewhort in the line it seems to be great would it be possible that someone replaces Mewhort next season? I really dont want it to happen because Mewhort is my favorite lineman i think hes a beast.
Bowen: 1. I've actually seen a few mailbag questions with this type of thinking. The tight end position for the Colts is clearly their deepest position group. So I understand with wanting/trying to save a little money. But I think it's too risky to let Jack Doyle walk. The comfort level that Andrew Luck has with Doyle cannot be overlooked. I believe you can involve all three tight ends going forward, and still have enough money/other resources to address the defensive side of the ball. Unless the asking price for Doyle gets insanely high, the Colts really want him back. 2. No. Jack Mewhort is a starting offensive lineman for this team. Before Mewhort went on injured reserve in mid-December, he was arguably this team's best offensive linemen in 2016. I'd be really surprised if Mewhort wasn't this team's starting left guard come Week One 2017.
Juan T. (Edinburg, TX)
With the the last two, 0 sacks, impressive but still taking tough hits. But I feel like the running game has improved alot better as well with thr offensive line change. Or is that just me? And as well quick question, has Kelly given up a sack a season?
Bowen: Yes, the running game did improve over the final stretch of the season as well. In the final month of the season, Frank Gore had 85 carries for 355 yards (4.4 yards per carry) including a 100-yard game against the Vikings. What the run game did in December shouldn't be overlooked. It's something to build off with Jack Mewhort returning next season off injured reserve. With Kelly, he did not allow a sack in 626 pass blocking snaps during his rookie season. Only one other center in the NFL had more pass blocking snaps than Kelly and still didn't give up a sack.
Greg C. (Wilmington, DE)
Kevin, We've seen an increase in the short passing game as of late. Do you think that will be emphasized more next year? Secondly, which WRs/RBs would you consider to be elusive with a chance to have good YAC yards, a la Darin Sproles, Julien Edleman, etc? Lastly, will the mailbag continue throughout the year? Thanks for your column, I look forward to it each week!
Bowen: 1. I do think this is something that has to be used more next year. In keeping Andrew Luck away from the inevitable pressure, the underneath routes should be more prevalent in 2017. The Colts have the weapons to make plays post catch. 2. We need to see what the Jacoby Brissett's, Chester Rogers' and Josh Ferguson's can do with the ball in their hands. These guys have those traits, but we don't know for sure if they can make those impacts. The Colts need to find out if that's possible this coming year. 3. The mailbag will continue throughout the year. I will imagine the questions will dwindle a little bit, but we will still go with two a week (Wednesday and Saturday). Thanks a bunch for reading along.
Marissa M. (Tampa, FL)
If the colts lost today how much better of a draft pick / position would they have gotten ? As much as the team doesn't play to lose, wouldn't it have been better for the team in the long run if they lost and were in better position in th draft ? It seems to me that colts lose all the games they need to win and win all the games they need to lose :(
Bowen: The Colts would have moved up to the 11th overall pick had they lost in Week 17. Instead, the Colts will pick No. 14th or 15th overall (pending a coin flip). Look, I understand where you are coming from in the "a loss would have been better" mindset. But these players are playing for their futures in the NFL and they aren't going to sandbag by putting bad tape on film to jeopardize their futures. The same can be said for the coaches thinking about their own futures.
Paul M. (Middletown, NY)
Hi Kevin Thank you for answering our questions
What changes happen from one series where the Colts go three and out,with two sacks and an incomplete.To the next series where Luck goes six for six throws a TD and they win the game?
Thanks again Paul
Bowen: It's crazy to look back on Sunday's fourth quarter and look at how poor the offense had looked on the previous plays leading up to the game-winning drive. On their four previous plays, they fumbled a snap and gave up two sacks sandwiched around an incompletion. That's not exactly the momentum you want heading into a must-score drive with no timeouts left and the clock reading 1:33. In talking with Jack Doyle after the game, he mentioned the extra time the defense gave the offense on the Jaguars' field goal drive. That time (which was extended by a crazy long review after the blocked punt) allowed for the offense to get together on the sideline and detail exactly what the unit wanted to run. The Colts laid out their blueprint for the final drive, got two early completions to move across midfield and never really faced any stress the entire drive. Outside of spikes, Andrew Luck was 6-of-6 for 70 yards in leading his 18th game-winning touchdown drive.
Dave C. (New Castle, IN)
I know the NFL calendar restricts the times for signing free agents etc. When can the Colts negotiate with and sign their Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents? I think I know who our UFAs are, do we have any RFAs and if so who?
Bowen: The Colts can negotiate with their own free agents at any time. League rules permit from other teams interacting with free agents on other teams until March 7, two days before the new league years officially begins on March 9. Check back with Colts.com later this week for an official list on the Colts 2017 free agents. The team's restricted free agents in 2017 include Quan Bray, Jonotthan Harrison, Zach Kerr, Josh McNary and Erik Swoope.
Keane M. (Waianae, HI)
Hey Kevin, I enjoy reading the mailbag and this is my first time participating in this. I have a few questions I want to ask you.
1) Do the Colts have enough money this offseason to target a few free agents in areas that we need improvement on? If so, how active are we going to be during free agency?
2) What are your thoughts on us getting Derek Barnett in the draft? I really like his size and speed as an edge rusher and he could make a great impact for us next season.
Bowen: 1. I think the Colts do have enough money in free agency to re-sign their own (and there are some key guys the Colts need to bring back) and still go out and find a guy or two on the open market. The Colts have to have some activity in free agency. The draft is vital for its own reasons, but free agency should not be ignored. 2. The little I've seen of Barnett, count me as a fan. You clearly see why Mock Drafts have him hovering around the top half of the first round. With either picking No. 14 or 15 overall, the Colts should be in line to select one of the top three or four edge rushers in this draft.