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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Why Did The Colts Not Run The Ball On Fourth-And-One?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the starting debut of Antonio Morrison, the play of the defense in 2016 and what the future of the secondary looks like.

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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:Willie B. (Indianapolis)

Kevin , we have Frank Gore a future hall of fame RB in some eyes but yet when we face short yardage situations we throw the ball. Why was Gore not even on the field let alone given the chance to make the first down? Do the coaches not have any faith in the oline?

Bowen: I assume you are referencing the fourth-down play from Sunday. In that situation (mostly a two-minute pace), the Colts were rolling with Robert Turbin at running back. Turbin has excelled in short yardage situations this year and has been a pretty productive option for the Colts all season long. It looked like the Colts were actually going to run the ball (with Turbin) on the first 4th-and-1 try before Bill O'Brien took a timeout. O'Brien then put Houston's massive nose tackle Vince Wilfork back into the game. When the Colts saw that personnel going in, they changed their play call. Wilfork ended up blowing up the screen pass, too, with pressure on Luck forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball quicker than he would have liked. Once Houston subbed to get more of a run defense look on the field, that's when Rob Chudzinski altered his thinking.

Joseph K. (United States)

I have a quick question about the linebacker position

I am under the impression that aMorrison played a much better game in DJacksons slot, maybe he struggled in the weakside while playing along side Djack.

can you explain to me the difference of roles between the Mike lb and the weakside? and is Morrison more fit to replace DJackson at Mike instead of the weak?

Bowen: Correct. Antonio Morrison is a better fit at the MIKE linebacker, than he would be at the WILL. Morrison is a downhill guy that excels against the run. That's why you saw Morrison play mostly on run downs and Jackson stay on the field for every snap against the Texans. The MIKE linebacker is built more for a physical role in absorbing blockers and trying to stop the run.

Joe E. (Indianapolis)

Hello Kevin!

I'm usually just a reader and definitely appreciate that the Colts Mailbag affords the fans.

As I sit here watching the Colts/Texans game this week I can't help but notice the how slow our star QB is in the decision making process. A few weeks ago, I noticed Scott Tolzien had the offense looking quicker than Andrew. It looked more like some of the better teams in the NFL. I know Andrew likes to take everything on his shoulders but he is getting killed out there. There is no way a front line can hold off today's defenses with the quickness out there although we know the still need help there.

Am I the only one that sees this? I know it's easy to be an armchair QB, but we've invested too much cap in Andrew's contract for him not to get better at decision making and sharpen up this offense. I await your response and again appreciate the conduit that the Mailbox provides.

Sincerely

Joe E.

Bowen: Getting the ball out a bit quicker is a two-way street. Is Luck part of the problem? Yes. This is a guy who has always held onto the ball a bit longer than other quarterbacks. Some of his greatest plays have come off that, however we saw the opposite of one in Luck's second interception against the Texans. The receivers also have to do their job in providing Luck that earlier option. We saw that on the strip/sack of Luck during Sunday's third quarter. As much as you might have liked the way Scott Tolzien got the ball out quick, that output led to just seven points (the fewest of the season) and an offense that sputtered virtually every time it crossed midfield.

Larry L. (Muncie, IN)

Tell me if I am right or wrong. It seems like every time the Colts play really well (the Jets), the very next game they play very mediocre (the Texans).

Bowen: The Colts have strung together just one streak of two wins together this season. It's why they need serious help to get into the postseason. Really, the stretch that hurt the Colts came following the Tennessee game in November. After winning two in a row, Andrew Luck had to miss the Thanksgiving game due to a concussion. The inability to have consecutive winning-type performances has escaped the Colts all season long. Just when it looked like the Colts could start something like that, the offense struggled against the Texans.

Riley S. (Fillmore, IN)

Hey Kevin, I am one of those angry colts fans right now after that loss. My questions is,after this critical loss, how can we still make the playoffs and what are the chances that we do. Thx and cant wait till nxt season!!!

Bowen: Yes. Check this out on how. Basically, the Colts must make up two games on the Texans and one game on the Titans over the final three weeks of the season. The odds aren't great. Playoff projections have them at less than 10 percent.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey, Kevin! Thanks as always for your work! Obviously, I have a lot of feelings regarding the Texans game. But frankly, I got tickets to the game in Minnesota next week for my birthday. As a result, I'm far too excited to finally see my boys live for me to put my critic's hat on until then.

I know you've answered this question multiple times in the past, but could you please repeat the procedure for fans who want to try to get player autographs on Sundays? I've got one of my favorite NFL players in Pat McAfee coming to town and I can't let an opportunity like that pass me by! And just let Boomstick know I'll be the only guy from my entire state who came with a blue #1 specially brought for him, eh Kev? XD

Bowen: Stan, aren't you glad the Vikings are no long player outdoors. The negative temperatures come Sunday won't be felt inside of new U.S. Bank Stadium. If you're looking for an autograph this weekend, get inside the building right when the gates open. Then head down to the visiting tunnel area in the lower bowl of the stadium. Hangout there while the Colts come out for warmups and players should trickle over to sign. I think McAfee will definitely be one of them, especially if he spots your No. 1 jersey. Good luck!

J.B. (Atlanta)

So…we got beat by the Texans again. Seems pretty clear that the huge gap that the Colts had on the rest of the AFC South has closed. Is it just me are the next few drafts and free agency pretty important to come out with some more talent? Also, how much of an adjustment has our defense had to make with a new defensive coordinator? Besides the injuries, is that some of the reason for the slow start defensively this year?

Thanks for answering our questions, greatly appreciated. Playoffs or not, still a Colts fan!

Bowen: Yep, the next few drafts (more so than free agency) are going to be extremely critical to what this team looks like during Andrew Luck's second contract. The drafts have to find instant impact guys, especially on defense. You need contributors on rookie deals. If the Colts can find that, it shouldn't be long before they climb back to the top of the division. I would say what has hurt this defense in 2016 has been more so the injuries and lack of a pass rush, than the adjustment to the system itself. The injuries to Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford I think have been a bit overlooked. The lack of a dominant pass rusher from an individual standpoint has hamstrung this defense in what they can get done.

Jack Y. (Illinois)

Would the Colts pursue Alston Jeffery this offseason to give Andrew Luck a reliable target outside of T.Y. Hilton. This season, it has been painfully obvious that T.Y is our only pass catcher than we can rely on getting open. When he isn't, Luck either gets sacked, picked off, or whoever he does throw it too drops it. Do the Colts have the cap space to do this or will they look in the draft?

Bowen: I don't see this happening at all. The Colts have a lot of money tied up in Hilton and need to start thinking about a long-term deal for Donte Moncrief, too. You don't have room for the sort of contract that Jeffery is going to command on the open market. The Colts need to focus their offseason resources into the defense, and then thinking about a running back in the draft.

Jonathan T. (Indianapolis)

I love the way our defense has played lately...however,I don't know our salary cap situation or other player's contracts,but what is the likelihood we can go after Xavier Rhodes, trade for Darius Slayton, or go after an up and coming corner? I also like Stephon Gilmore too. I'd welcome a "young" cornerback. I also know we need to get younger as well. Last question, how much longer will the Colts keep Mike Adams? #bloodbeenblue

Bowen: When I look at cornerback, I lean more towards the draft, versus free agency. The free agency route hasn't led to a lot of recent success with that group. The draft would give this team a young corner to groom behind Vontae Davis and eventually take over as the team's No. 1 cornerback. Mike Adams is a free agent going into 2017. First, I'm not sure how much longer Adams wants to play. He turns 36 years old in March. The Colts have safeties waiting in Clayton Geathers and T.J. Green. If the Colts are keeping Geathers at safety, then that could complicate things in terms of where Adams would fit in 2017.

Nick M. (Cheektowaga, NY)Looking ahead to next season a little bit what would you think of moving Clayton Geathers to the linebacker position along with edwin jackson (who i think is a long term solution at the weak side backer position) and having Darius Butler rotate to the safety postion along with TJ Green? For the few times Butler was at safety i thought he faired pretty well and its worked for other cornerbacks in the past to complete the transition to safety. Now with your first round pick grab either Jaylen Tabor or Desmond King for that CB 2 spot along side Davis.(or is he falls grab Jabril Peppers)

Bowen: How the Colts handle Darius Butler's upcoming free agency and where to place Clayton Geathers in their defense are two storylines going into 2017. Butler is a free agent, and will enter the offseason as a pretty coveted prospect. The versatility Butler has shown this season makes him attractive even with his age reaching 30 years old. I like you're thinking in this, but my only question would be are you too undersized at linebacker? Do the Colts feel they need a more natural "MIKE" linebacker next to Edwin Jackson, who is undersized for a 3-4 inside backer? If that's the case, then Antonio Morrison is an option. We will get more of a look at Jackson and Morrison in the coming weeks to see if their future includes starting in 2017. Also, will the neck injury that has ended Clayton Geathers' 2016 season impact the Colts moving him closer to the line of scrimmage in a more full-time role?

Joshua K. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hi Kevin! Thank you for your work answering all of our crazy draft questions...after saying that, here is a draft question! Do you feel that Derek Barnett is a good fit for us if he were to fall to us in the first round? Not sure if you are updated on the college players that are possibly entering the draft this season but he seems to be a very good pass rushing prospect. I just can never tell scheme-wise who is a good fit and who isn't. Along with that, do you know anything about Dawuane Smoot and whether or not he would be a good fit and if he would be someone we should get in the first or second round? Lastly, is TJ Watt a player worthy of first round consideration? He has 10.5 sacks and several solo tackles. Just curious if you knew anything about any of these prospects. Let me know what you think and GO COLTS!

Bowen: I can't say I know these guys too in-depth. Barnett seems to be the highest rated of the names above. You have the sort of production he has had in the SEC and it makes sense why he's up there in the early Mock Drafts. Smooth doesn't have the same sort of numbers in the sack department that you would be looking for off the edge. The early mocks I've looked at do not have Watt as a first-round pick.

Juan M. (Mexico City)

Hi Mr. Bowen, thanks for answering my last week's questions. I have 3 questions for this weeks after watching's the monday game and reading about Jackson's PED.

First of all, do you think the colts could take the same path that Green Bay took in the draft this year, i mean, selecting 3 LB's in the first' fourth rounds? You see, that defense improved notabley this year on that side of the ball.

Second, I remember an article from the Indianapolis Star two months ago about all the shoots that Grigson and Pagano related to the O-Line, Grigson said that they have the talent but no good coaching and Pagano's words were that they were not enough talent. I don't know if that is true but I think the O-Line concerns are more about Castonzo's poor first half, some bad injuries and the mayor part is due to a little cohesion and inexperience of the group. What do you think about that? Against the Jets, the interior of the line handled that D-Line very good and it was a good performance from Mewhort and Kelly.

Do you think the team is goint to part ways with jackson? Is the fourth suspention in less than two years the teams had and only one of them was justified.

And I don't think moving Geathers to LB is a good move, TJ Green have show very poor coverage skills and I remember him most for knocking Vontae Davis out of one game, he's doing some hard hits on his own partners.

Bowen: 1. A trio of linebackers in the first four rounds might be a little too much, but I do think that group will look very different next season. 2. Injuries and a lack of cohesion certainly play a part in the development of the offensive line not being as quick as many would like it to be. It's a group that needs to find an early five in 2017 and have that quintet work together for long stretches throughout the offseason. That's why hopefully Jack Mewhort's injury isn't an ACL, therefore risking the start of the 2017 for the team's starting left guard. 3. This is something we will find out in the offseason. D'Qwell Jackson is due $5.75 million in the final year of his contract. The Colts will have a decision to make if they feel the young talent at inside linebacker suffices enough to possibly part ways with the long-time vet.

Kenneth B. (Indianapolis)

Do you see this defense sneakily becoming younger out of the 2017 draft?Say Morrison, and Jackson work out at ILB. Then you get Green, and Geathers at saftey next year; if Geathers doesn't shift down to linebacker. Ridgeway did some good things last week on the d-line, and we still have Anderson. Then you have the draft for OLB, CB, and D-line.

Bowen: I don't think there will be any sneaking about it. This defense has to get young and will get younger during the draft. When you think about young, potential starters for 2017 on defense you throw in Henry Anderson, David Parry, Hassan Ridgeway, Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison, T.J. Green and Clayton Geathers. That group has to be bolstered by several draft picks on that side of the ball, too. The shift to young defenders has to happen come April 2017.

Simon B. (Greenville, SC)

Happy Holidays to all Colts fans, especially the hardworking group in the Colts front office..my questions are 1)Chester Rogers, not Phillip Dorset appears to be more effective at the 3rd WR position-when will the Colts realize that the NFL is a meritocracy and reward Rogers with the starting spot ? 2)Offensive Coordinators are 'hot spots' for Head Coaches; if Chudzinski's offense continues to perform well (including the playoffs)do you forsee Rob departing for HC offers ,or returning to the same position with the Colts ? 3)Monacheno plays Zone Defense like he's been married to it for twenty years or more ;is there any chance he might capitalize upon the benefits of a dissolution, and initiate a more aggressive approach to attacking QBs like Osweiler? Thanks guys !

Bowen: 1. We did see Chester Rogers get a few more offensive reps, when the Colts were healthy at the receive position against the Texans. With Donte Moncrief's status unknown this week, Rogers could see even more time against the Vikings. There's no doubt that this offseason is going to be a big one for Dorsett. Will the third year be the one we finally start to see him get closer to his potential? The drops on Sunday from Dorsett were an issue and a reason why the Colts could not find the needed offensive consistency. 2. I'd be surprised if Rob Chudzinski left to become a head coach in 2017. Of all the long lists of rumored candidates you hear about (and are starting to hear about again), Chud's name is rarely seen. 3. I don't think the Colts play an abnormal amount of zone compared to other teams. Against Houston, we saw Vontae Davis in particular playing a bunch of man coverage in his shadow role opposite DeAndre Hopkins. The issues Sunday didn't include the back end. The Colts could not fill gaps consistently in stopping a Houston run game that racked up more than 180 yards.

Wesley S. (Houston)

Colts fan cheering all the way from enemy territory this weekend. My question is why cant we get a roster photo for Rashaan Melvin on the site guys played lights out like a starter for us this year get that man an employee of the month photo Go Colts!!!

Bowen: Rashaan Melvin's roster bio has his picture updated. Check it out here.

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