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:Matthew V. (Indiana)
With both the offense and defense ranking near the bottom of the league, how much of the blame should be on the coordinators and position coaches as opposed to Pagano? Isn't it the position coaches who truly develop the talent? Should we look for new coordinators and position coaches?
Bowen: This week, once the news broke of Chuck Pagano's return in 2016, many fans inquired about staff changes that could be forthcoming. It seems like Rob Chudzinski is a lock to return with the Colts very intrigued by what the offense could look like with him leading the unit for an entire season. On Wednesday night, we saw the Colts part ways with Greg Manusky, who had been with Pagano since two came to Indianapolis in 2012. The numbers leading to Manusky's dismissal surrounds the Colts far too frequently seeing the opponent's scoreboard rising above 30. Since 2012, the Colts have allowed more than 40 points on 12 separate occasions (an NFL-high). During that span, they've given up at least 30 points in 16 such contests. An area to watch in the Colts search for a new defensive coordinator is if the team stays with a 3-4 scheme, the system Chuck Pagano is familiar with from his time in Baltimore. The current personnel of the unit is definitely suited for a 3-4 defense, especially along the defensive front.
Isak H. (Mexico City)
Ok, so we get pick #18. From an analytical standpoint, it's a terrible pick because top talent is off the board and you don't have a late first to make a steal. Assuming Laremy Tunsil goes to Tennessee and Ronnie Stanley is a top 10 pick, there might not be another OL worth a mid-first. If the colts were unable to trade the pick, would it be logic to consider Cody Whitehair, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, or Andrew Billings and maybe use a third on a center like Isaac Seumalo, Ryan Kelly, Ty Darlington, Jack Allen or Max Tuerk?
Bowen: Isak, I wouldn't get into the analytics of specific draft pick numbers. The Colts could easily see a top-10 sort of talent fall to them, just like any team selecting in the late teens. Jim Irsay made a point on Monday night to mention that the Colts have to look to getting younger in spots. Potentially, the Colts could have 11 returning starters age 30 or older next season. So for me, trading that pick (depending on the board) wouldn't be in the best interest. I see the Colts needing to find an impact defender in the first round.
Al O. (Ocala, FL)
Did the Colts place anyone on the Pro Bowl squad?
Bowen: Al, for the first time since 1997, the Colts did not have any player named to the Pro Bowl. Now, the Colts could possibly have an alternate or two get into the game. Maybe D'Qwell Jackson fills in for potential Super Bowl-linebackers Luke Kuechly (Carolina), Bobby Wagner (Seattle), etc. Mike Adams could also be a safety alternate with five guys at that position in the playoffs.
Mark F. (Fishers, IN)
I credit Coach Pagano with creating a "team first" camaraderie in the Colts locker room that is necessary for a team of veterans and "new guys" to mesh well and function effectively. I've seen what happens , even if you're a "professional" ,when something disrupts the chemistry of an organization . The head coach sets the tone for the team and the whole coaching staff. As a former offensive lineman, I know that an excellent O-line can even help the defense be more effective by controlling time of possession and keeping the defense fresh. Will Coach Pagano be given a chance to work his magic on the defense and the rest of the team if we can bolster the O-line with some more hard-nosed O linemen?
Bowen: Our weekly offensive line question enters the mailbag in a bit of a roundabout way. It's mentioned above, but the Colts are getting older on the defensive side of the ball. So that side of the ball, and continuing to get younger (like you did in the 2015 draft with Henry Anderson, Clayton Geathers and David Parry) would be beneficial again in 2016. What you're going to hear from me a lot this offseason regarding the offensive line---I see the interior as more of a priority than the edges. With needs extending to other places (on both sides of the ball), the middle of the offensive line remains my top area to improve that unit.
Allister L. (Arizona)
Hey and thanks for reading. As I'm kinda disconnected from colts nation is there any buzz about luck seeking other teams or anything about pagano these are two I'd hate to see go. Thanks again for taking the time.
Bowen: Well, Chuck Pagano is of course coming back after agreeing to a four-year extension. As far as Andrew Luck, he spoke on Monday during locker room cleanout. Luck's thinking falls right in line with Jim Irsay's of trying to get a long-term deal finalized this offseason for the franchise quarterback.
Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)
...hi, Kevin. I'm writing Monday night with a heavy heart. Not only because of this season, but because I feel like little will change for the forseeable future.
Word has just dropped that Pagano and Grigson will both be extended through 2019. The details aren't out, but from what I understand the two contracts will be tied together somehow. This was likely done in an attempt to cut out any infighting between the two.
The big struggle for me is that Jim Irsay seems determined to be very active with this team, yet his mishandling of the situation this season shows how out of touch he appears to be. The problems that have plagued this team from both Pagano and Grigson's side have been long-lasting and apparent. If he needed an hours long talk just today to find discover these issues, he is oblivious. If he knew and didn't tell the two of them to knock it off until now, then he is just as culpable for this mess as anyone.
I feel myself getting sick already from this so I'll cut my rant off and focus on my question: has a dual-tied contract like this reported Pagano-Grigson deal been done before? It seems like all it would do is make it harder for the owner to cut an ineffectual party, and the two men's squabbling had been so toxic and long-lasting that I have no proof to believe that their problems will evaporate. But is there at least some case study that shows this unorthodox arrangement can work?
Bowen: Stan, off the top of my head, I don't know of specific "dually-tied" contracts for a head coach and GM in NFL history. I'm sure there's some. I certainly think there's a growing trend of trying to package those positions together. For the Colts. it was sort of the perfect storm back in 2012. You had the No. 1 pick coming off a 2-14 season and with Peyton Manning's incredible run in Indianapolis likely over, the Colts could have (and did have) a virtual re-start at the general manager, head coach and quarterback spots. To me, we continually to see other owners trying to pair a head coach and GM together. You rarely, rarely, see a head coach in place without the GM who hired him. What Irsay was adamant about on Monday was the continuity and winning pedigree of Pagano/Grigson won out in the end. He believes this former rookie head coach/GM duo can more than coexist for the next four years.