Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Will Henry Anderson Return This Week?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about Frank Gore so far in 2016, how much the 0-2 start has hurt the playoff chances for the Colts and the offensive game plan early this 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:

Mark M. (Idaho)

Hi Kevin, really appreciate your work.

Do you think the colts will employ any 4-3 on expected run downs? Once we get Art Jones and Henry Anderson back, it seems like we could really benefit from the extra size, especially with our weakness at MLB after Nate Irving was cut.

Bowen: This sort of question is something we have seen a couple of times as of late. The Colts aren't going to reinvent their scheme just for the return of Arthur Jones. That isn't going to happen. What is going to happen, is the defensive line should have some added depth. Right now, it's clear Kendall Langford is still working back to 100 percent. Henry Anderson is doing the same, with a real possible return this week. The Colts would love another body into that group and Jones brings that in a couple of weeks. It will give coordinator Ted Monachino some variety to work with amongst their defensive fronts.

Leo B. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Hi, Kevin. Any News on D'Joun Smith? I had high hopes for him in 2016.

Bowen: We had a few inquiries about D'Joun Smith in this week's mailbag. D Smith was waived/injured near the end of the preseason. Injuries have dominated Smith's early run in the NFL. The 2015 third-round pick has since been waived via an injury settlement. The Colts were not in a position to carry him on the 53-man roster with so many other injuries already on the roster in the preseason. Smith has to get healthy first, before any team in the NFL brings him onto their 53-man roster. His game experience is right around 20 NFL snaps.

Roy E. (Marion, IN)

Who would you say is the emotional leader of our defense? I know our goal is to play smart, but every great defense had its vocal emotional player to put fire to the team. I'd like to see Mathis and Adams rally the troops this year. We have great personnel on D, but gas with no spark is just fumes..

Bowen: I think you have three main defensive leaders. Although never the most vocal, Robert Mathis is a definite leader and often one you see breaking down pre-game huddles. D'Qwell Jackson is a leader for several reasons. He's in the middle of the defense and also brings great perspective on a variety of things after 10 seasons in the NFL. In the back end, Mike Adams is certainly a leader. Adams has even been asked to lead in more ways than just about any could imagine this season, given all the injuries to the secondary.

J.D. H. (Forest City, NC)

Hi Kevin, I'm a long time Colts fan since the late 50's. My question is when was the last time all the Colts starters actually started a game since Andrew Luck's been qb. It would seem the Colts have an unusual injury problem, is it a training & conditioning problem or is it something else. Go Colts !

Bowen: I don't think there's a team in the NFL that has all 22 of their expected starters start more than a game or two together in a season. And even that might be pushing it. Chuck Pagano was asked this question on Sunday and said he has no answer for why there's been such a rash of injuries this season. The Colts did change their strength and conditioning program this season in a effort to try and solve some of the injuries problems they've faced of late.

Vance R. (Champaign, IL)

I'm a basic fan...I enjoy this site but don't pretend to be an expert of the team structure.

Question: Why are some players placed on injured reserve and then waived from injured reserve? Is that so the teams can reduce salary? Or so the player can catch on to another team and not lose an entire season?

Bowen: Vance, it's the latter. Those players feel the injury isn't serious enough to be season-ending. Therefore the team and player reach an injury settlement, releasing the player from injured reserve, thus giving him a chance to go find a new team.

Jonathon R. (Australia)

Hello Kevin

My question is, do you think the NFL would ever consider a penalty shootout-style game (but instead, each team takes turns kicking field goals) for matches that are not resolved after over time, similar to soccer. Though it seems a little crazy and I realise most games are won before overtime is over, I think it would be extremely exciting and bring a new element to games.

Bowen: Is this Adam Vinatieri in disguise sending in a question?  I can't envision this ever happening. I know soccer fans hate penalty shootouts and I just don't think you would see the NFL adopting anything of the sort. Well over 90% of overtime games are won before the 15-minute period is complete. Although I could never see this idea formulating, the Colts would like it with Vinny out there in a pressure-packed situation.

Scott M. (Marion, IN)

Before last season Andre Johnson and Frank gore came to Indy obviously chasing a championship, wrongly believing the colts were a couple of pieces away from seriously contending. While Johnson didn't work out, gore has been beast in his limited role. I feel extremely bad for gore. Although he always says the right things and is a veteran leader presence, i get the feeling he is extremely frustrated and maybe regrets coming to the colts. Is he frustrated? What's the inside scoop? What's his contract looking like. I know he's aging for a rb, but.. Any chance he bolts for greener pastures?

Bowen: The frustration you see from Frank Gore comes from just how crazily competitive he is. Andrew Luck said a few weeks back how he's never had a teammate that is as competitive as Gore. After 10 years in San Francisco, Gore wanted to go to a place where a Super Bowl was a possibility. He didn't get that chance in 2015, so that's why you see him flustered about how things have gone so far. I still think Gore is capable of being a 1,000-yard runner in this league. Right now Gore is at 3.8 yards per carry to start 2016 and a slight uptick in that would give him a shot at 1,000 yards this season. Gore is under contract through the 2017 season.

Paul K. (Lisbon Falls, ME)

I thought the Colts were going to go to a more quick and shorter passing game? Living in NE i get to see the Pats run this kind of an offense every week with great success seems were always going for the high percentage throws that take time and put Luck in Harms way. Coaches may want to study the Pats game film. Also it seems that we try to run the ball at least once every three plays not counting the end of every game when were trying to catch up. Whats wrong with starting the game throwing 30 straight passes when the defense thinks you may run now and then as opposed to throwing 30 straight times at the end of the game to catch up and the defense knows you are not going to run and is tee - ing off on you.

Frustrated colts fan

Bowen: We had a few offensive game plan-type questions this week. To slow down any pass rush, a run game has to be established. Throwing 30 times to start a game is eventually going to let the defense just rear back and rush, rush, rush all game long. Last year when the Colts beat Denver, they had 40 runs. It was a major reason why the Colts were able to keep Andrew Luck upright and have the ball for 17 more minutes than the Broncos. Some mix of a run game has to be there with the pass, just to keep opposing defenses honest and not let them think "pass rush" every down.

John L. (New Bedford, MA)

Just watch the Denver game ouch.I thought one player that had a really bad game was Sio Moore.He was out of position on many plays missed way to many tackles. my question is way aren't we playing Antonio Morrison more I don't think Moore is the answer how do you feel about a change at ILB.

Bowen: In Week Two, we saw Morrison play zero defensive snaps after he logged 11 plays in the season opener. When the Colts go into their nickel package, Moore is going to be a consistent presence on the field because of his athleticism. With how high this staff is on Morrison, it was interesting to see him not get any defensive run on Sunday. Morrison is known for his tackling and the Colts could use such a player like that right now. Moore is still going to start and play a lot for this defense. His sideline-to-sideline ability is a luxury. Now, Moore does have to clean up the couple of missed tackles he had on Sunday in Denver. But when passing downs do arise, Moore is likely going to be one of your lone linebackers on the field.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey Kevin! Now, some people may be panicking about the team starting 0-2. That being said, I think we should try to be objective. Watching this team, I feel like they need to score 28 to 31 points a game to be in a position to win an average game.

Turning the corner from "close loss" to "win" will come down to 3 things: limiting penalties, playing better in the first half and improving tackling. Abdullah, Riddick, and Tate blew the team apart week 1 and Sanders, Anderson, and Green also dominated the short-medium game in Denver.

The problem is that I struggle to find wins on the schedule. Assuming 30 points is the average offensive/defensive over/under, I can see 4 AFC South wins, a win over Chicago, and one over KC. They may secure 30 points over SD, Pittsburgh, and possibly even Oakland, but could easily be outscored by 2 of the 3. Where do you see wins on the schedule, because with this defense, I'm really struggling to find them.

Bowen: I get into it more below, but for the Colts to get back into the AFC South picture, the next handful of games are so crucial for January football. The next five games look like this: San Diego (1-1), Jacksonville (0-2) in London, Chicago (2-0), at Houston (2-0) and at Tennessee (1-1). You have winnable games there, plus a massive Sunday night tilt against the AFC South leaders. For the Colts to get back near the top of the AFC South, they must find several wins in the next month. I always thought the back half of this schedule was the tougher part and this 0-2 start for the Colts has eliminated much room for error going forward.

Zac N. (Indiana)

Short and sweet. Can the Colts still win the division? Also, do you think they will make the playoffs? Thank you Kevin!

Bowen: Short and sweet answers: yes and yes. Obviously, the Colts can still win the division. It's Week Three of the regular season. Fourteen games remain. Now, the Colts are about to embark on a very critical stretch. This 0-2 start, plus Houston's 2-0 beginning to the season, is why the Colts have to take care of business in the coming weeks. Let's repeat what was said above and look at the next five games for the Colts. The first three are against teams with a combined 1-6 record (San Diego, Jacksonville in London and Chicago). Then the Colts will go to Houston and to Tennessee the next two weeks. So in that span, you have three very winnable games to start and back-to-back divisional road contests. For the Colts to stay within striking distance of Houston, they have to win the majority of those games.

Michael S. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hi kevinn thanks for answering all our questions.

Was I the only one to notice hilton making a catch and getting out of bounds with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter? after which the clock stopped for a few seconds and then started running again. We lost alot of time on that drive because of it. Do you know why the clock started running again? Hilton got out of bounds without being touched.

Thanks for your time and answer

Bowen: I'm going to direct you to the NFL rule book timing section: "With the exception of the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half, the game clock will be restarted following a kickoff return, a player going out of bounds on a play from scrimmage, or after declined penalties when appropriate on the referee's signal."

Marissa M. (Valrico, FL)

Hey Kevin, while watching the colts game over the weekend and seeing our lack of rush offense, I wondered- when was the last time the colts had a 100 yard rusher?

Also I always hear that defense and the running game are fundamental keys to winning football games, what are the colts thoughts on that ?

Thanks for doing the mailbag!

Bowen: The last time the Colts had a 100-yard rusher was Week 15 of the 2012 season. It was Vick Ballard against Houston. Since then, the Colts have had 52 regular season games without a 100-yard rusher. The Colts obviously know this streak and it's something that Frank Gore has brought up on several occasions. Chuck Pagano has always preached balance and while a perfect 50/50 symmetry is virtually impossible, it would do wonders for the offense to get Frank Gore above 4.0 yards per carry (through two games Gore is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, with 27 attempts for 103 yards).

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