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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Where Does Joe Haeg Fit On The Offensive Line?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the red-zone offense of the Colts, an early look at the 2017 NFL Draft and Jerrell Freeman’s play in Chicago.


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:Izack L. (Gilroy, CA)

Hey Kevin, big listener of your thoughts. It was good to see winning football today even though there is much to clean up. I've been big on our offensive line draft picks and I was glad to see Joe Haeg get his first start. What did you think of his play and do you think he could hold a starting spot along that frontier either at guard or tackle? (I was impressed) Also I seen Blaythe in on the 1 yard run in a jumbo package could he push for guard time this season? Thanks for you time.

Bowen: This staff is very high on Joe Haeg. On Sunday, we saw Haeg play guard in a real football game for the first time in his life. I'm talking middle school, high school, college, or the NFL. Haeg has the ability to be a starting caliber player at four positions in this league. It's going to be interesting to see how the Colts handle things once Denzelle Good and Joe Reitz get over their back injuries. I still think those two will start at right guard and right tackle respectively, but the Colts now have some depth going into the bench of their offensive line. Haeg is a future starter for this team, it just might not be this year. For Blythe, I think he's a utility backup guy this season. He's perfect for that role and has the position flex to play across the interior.

Ben D. (Voorhees, NJ)

Hey Kevin, Ben here.

First, I'd like to thank you for all you've done, not just for the colts, but us fans too!

Second is my question. For today, I have two.

It seems that most elite teams have an elite defense: the broncos, seahawks, panthers, and this year's 3-0 vikings. My question is, what measures will the colts take to prevent defensive injuries this season, as both last and this season, the defense, specifically the corners, have been pretty banged up.

My second question is in reference to the Colts' victory over the chargers. During that game, the colts amassed 10 penalties, and many of which were in crucial points in the game. Jack Doyle specifically had a ton of yellow thrown his way. Is there something the Colts are doing about these penalties in practice and is there something else that can be done?

Again, thank you Mr. Bowen. Have a nice day and as always GO COLTS!

Bowen: Ben, no problem. I enjoy it. 1. The good news for the secondary is that group is getting much healthier right now. Darius Butler (hamstring) and Patrick Robinson (concussion) are the only two corners currently banged up and neither injury is considered long term. It's impossible to prevent injuries. Any little knick at the corner position is so exaggerated because of all the sudden movements that have to made in open space at that position. 2. The Colts cannot expect to survive game after game if they are piling up 10 penalties. That's a recipe for disaster in terms of self-inflicted negatives. The Colts bring referees into practice every week. Expect that drilling to continue after the 10 penalties in Week Three.

Danny P. (Bloomington, IN)

Hi Kevin, with our three biggest needs for next draft/offseason being running back (most likely), pass rush, and RT, are there any major "stand-outs" you see coming into the league next year. I've been impressed with Jamaal Williams (BYU) and Jayon Brown (UCLA). Basically I'm asking you to put on your fortune telling goggles and asking which college players I should be paying close attention to. Thanks! And glad we narrowly saved our season and Coach Pagano's job today :)

Bowen: I'll be honest with you, Danny. I haven't really dove too deep into the draft pool yet. I'm going to hold off on that until the New Year. Off the top of my head, and I need to take a closer look at free agency, too, my positions of need for 2017 would look like this: pass rush, running back, cornerback, linebacker…and I think those four would be atop my list.

Adam H. (New York)

Hey Kevin!

We had a great win this week, and I had the pleasure of being there to witness it at Lucas Oil. This was my first Colts game and I was wondering if the crowd was considered really loud? I thought it was extremely loud and a tremendous atmosphere, and we rocked Rivers and messed up their timing. So was that considered loud on Sunday and do you know how loud it was?

Thanks and Go COLTS

Bowen: Wow, talk about a pretty entertaining first Colts' game to attend. I'm up in the closed press box, so I don't get the best appreciation for crowd noise, play in and play out. However, I definitely heard it in the fourth quarter on Sunday. When that siren gets cranking, the faithful inside the Oil Drum usually responds.

Dustin B. (Kings Mountain, NC)

First of all I love e these mailbag I write questions almost everytime. I watch every post game victory speech Pagano gives. This one from Sunday he talked about playing no Judgement Football. My 2 questions are,

  1. What do you think about playing no judgement football?
  1. Do any other teams have different agenda's per se like the Colts do. Last season it was for the blue. Before that it was chuckstrong. We have mottos that change every season. Do other teams do that or just the Colts?

Bowen: 1. If you ever heard Chuck Pagano talk, the phrase "60 minutes, don't judge" should be quite familiar to your ears. Sure, it might be a cliché, but Pagano is steadfast in his beliefs and this message is engrained into the heads of his players. 2. Whether it's a marketing campaign or a mantra from a coach, every team in the NFL has something similar. It's "do your job" in New England. It's "keep pounding" in Carolina. It's a bit of a rallying cry for a team and something for fans to rally around.

Nate D. (Flagstaff, AZ)

With all of the lack of a pass rush, or inconsistency of one, what are the odds the Colts trade up in the draft and take Myles Garrett? We would have a generational talent in a dry LB core.

Bowen: You and 31 other general managers would love Myles Garrett on their roster next season. It's going to take a massive draft package to acquire a pick high enough to select Garrett. All indications point to him being, at worst, a top-five pick, and probably higher than that. If the Colts are drafting in the back half of the first round, it's going to take some pricey draft picks to move all the way up to the first few picks. That's way too steep of a price for a team that needs multiple picks going forward. Having said that, pass rusher is still a major need for this team next offseason.

James W. (Indianapolis)

Was it wise to let Jerrel Freeman go? He's been darn good in Chicago, and it seems we should have paid him.

Bowen: We knew the Colts were cap strapped coming into the 2016 offseason. Jerrell Freeman was always the toughest call for me free agency wise. The Colts did not hesitate in the offseason to express their desire to get younger on defense. Remember, Freeman turned 30 years old in May. Given the cap situation of the Colts, and wanting to get younger on defense, did it make sense to offer a soon-to-be 30-year-old linebacker a four-year deal? Plus, the Colts have always been high on Sio Moore (26 years old). The Colts HAD to go out and get a second cornerback in the offseason. So I fully believe they felt like they couldn't spend too much on Freeman, given the reasons above, and that signing another cornerback was more important to this team and this defense.

Eduardo C. (San Juan Puerto Rico)


Bowen: Last week, we saw the Colts use a lot of Jack Doyle in their personnel groupings. Sure, we saw Chester Rogers play 31 snaps, but it was Doyle's 53 snaps that led to the Colts using the two tight end sets more frequently. Ideally, I think the Colts would like to keep defenses in a base personnel. The Colts like Rogers but with how Allen and Doyle have played so far this season, you can understand why Rob Chudzinski has used a two tight end set much more in the early going.

Jerry G. (Florence, AL)

Hey Kevin, how do you see the olb spot panning out mid to late season?Curt maggit is my biggest ?? For that next ?? Would be hassan ridgeway & anderso , will both essentially play hybrid DT/DE roles in Indy or is just trying things out for them?

Bowen: Right now, I see no reason why the rotation there wouldn't continue. Robert Mathis and Erik Walden are the headline guys. Now, with the Trent Cole news, Maggitt is going to take on a bigger role. Maggitt has potential, but he hasn't shown a lot of pressure in limited action so far. In terms of the defensive line, it's anyone's guess to how that personnel will shake out once Arthur Jones gets back next week. You will see plenty of rotation from those guys, but you are actually in a bit of a numbers crunch along the defensive line. We saw T.Y. McGill inactive on Sunday. What happens when Jones gets back on the 53-man roster? Do the Colts have room for all these talented defensive linemen?

Joseph K. (United States)

hello Mr Bowen go Colts

2 topics I would like your opinion on

  1. How do you think our offensive line held up overall? I'm not a reitz you think haeg could hold up better then reitz at RT currently? Also why do you think it's taking Clark so long to get ready and not Haeg? I can't wait for Clark to be ready for RT
  1. do you think when the time comes, p-rob could play the slot and have cromartie start opposite vontae, p-rob is a proven slot corner and cromartie has been doing fine on the outside in my opinion. when everyone is finally 100% I think vontae and cromartie and Robinson in the slot is a solid corner trio

Bowen: 1. I thought the offensive line held up all right on Sunday, especially with all the shuffling needed on the right side. I still think, when this unit is healthy, Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good are your starters on the right side. Joe Haeg is going to be a starter at some point in his career, but I think his rookie role as a versatile backup is perfect for him. With Le'Raven Clark, a "redshirt" type year as a rookie was probably expected. The Colts don't need him to be a starter in 2016 and Clark was making a transition from an offense in college that was in the shotgun virtually every play. Haeg played in a much more traditional, pro-style, system, a big reason why Carson Wentz (Haeg's college teammate) is having so much early success. 2. This is a great question. I think you are spot on with your assessment. Patrick Robinson was one of the NFL's better corners from the slot last season. The Colts could keep Antonio Cromartie and Vontae Davis on their more natural, outside, positions, and then use a guy like Robinson in the slot. I could certainly see this happening, maybe even as early as this Sunday.

Matthew H. (Iowa)

Slow starts have obviously been present for the colts each of the past few years. Although it has gotten slightly better, I feel the slow starts come because they haven't been able to get that first first down of the drive. There's obviously a reason why I'm not out their coaching, but I think it would help if we had some better drive starting plays to help get the offense rolling. What are your thoughts on this?

Bowen:* *You are right on this, Matthew. For the Colts to improve on their starts, early down success is a virtual must. Against Denver, the Colts really struggled with their production on first downs. The trickle down effect to this is that you are then playing behind the chains, leading to less than favorable third-down situations. In Week Three, the Colts had more success on those early downs and really avoided a lot of third downs. Frank Gore's 70 rushing yards on 13 carries in the first half was a major reason why the Colts had offensive improvement.

Rico W. (Tulsa)

Kevin, How do feel about a hurry up offense especially in the Red Zone? I personally feel it would help the Offense.

Thanks Colts Strong**


Bowen: Rico, I don't think that's the smartest advice for the Colts. Currently, the Colts lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency. They have converted eight of their nine red-zone chances this season. That's the best mark in the NFL. No need to mess with success.

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