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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Will T.Y. McGill See More Playing Time?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the Colts using more nickel/dime packages, how Jack Doyle will be used against Kansas City and Robert Mathis scoring his third career touchdown.


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:Blaine M. (Upton, KY)Hello Kevin, Coming off the huge win over Tennessee now we have to deal with Kansas City. Now KC is known to stop tight ends is this gonna hurt us at all. Since luck is use to dumping the ball off to Jack Doyle quickly getting those yards for a first down. Are we going to have to relay on the deep pass or the run? Can the offensive line hold?

Bowen: Blaine, you know your stuff. The Chiefs have allowed just 18 catches to tight ends this season (six total games). A lot is going to depend on the injury situation for Donte Moncrief/Jacoby Brissett. We really aren't sure if they have a chance to play Sunday (would guess Dorsett better than Moncrief). Either of those guys returning would lessen the reliance of Jack Doyle for Andrew Luck. Nonetheless, I think the Colts could be in for a nice afternoon coming in the ground game. You know the Chiefs have seen first hand what T.Y. Hilton can do (current defensive coordinator Bob Sutton held the same position with the Chiefs back when these teams met in January 2014). The Chiefs rank 22nd in the NFL against the run. With the Colts still dealing with injuries in the pass catching group, getting Gore going would be something to rely on against a defense that leads the NFL with 10 interceptions.

Simon B. (Greenville, NC)Hello guys, hope that you all are doing just questions begin in the Colts backfield, where it appears that Josh Ferguson and Robert Turpin are having difficulty with running, catching,and or you know if the Colts have any plans to change the current running back roster, or plans to draft or least pursue via UDFA a more talented group ?? I mean look at what Washington Houston got via UDFA..Secondly, will Chester Rogers get a real shot to challenge a seemingly uninspired Phillip Dorsett ? Thanks guys.

Bowen: Personally, I think Robert Turbin has contributed nicely this season. When his number has been called, Turbin has filled a variety of roles in relief of Frank Gore. Turbin is now this team's definite backup and is even taking many of the snaps we saw Josh Ferguson getting earlier this season. I do think the Colts will certainly explore a very deep running back draft class in 2017. As far as Rogers and Dorsett, once the latter returns, I fully expect him to take his normal reps on offense. Rogers has had some nice moments, but labeling Dorsett as "uninspiring" isn't fair. Sure, him and Andrew Luck haven't teamed up as much as I thought they would so far in 2016, but that doesn't mean Dorsett is apathetic out there. I still think Dorsett will make a big impact in games this season.

Jonathan T. (Indianapolis)

Two part question....were the Colts in a financial bind when looking for a defensive coordinator? I thought getting someone lie Jim Schwartz would have a great signing...look at Philadelphia's defense...he made the Lions better defensively. Also, what ever happened to Tyler Varga?? #bloodbeenblue

Bowen: I think the familiarity between Chuck Pagano and Ted Monachino played a major role in why the Colts went that route at defensive coordinator. Plus, Jim Schwartz runs a 4-3 scheme and the Colts are built more with 3-4 personnel. Tyler Varga retired from football in late July. A concussion ended Varga's 2015 rookie season after three games.

John C. (Bellerose, NY)hi kevin,watched your video of game with Texans.2 questions 1. why was there no answer to stop miller going left for big gains you showed one run but there were many in the game. 2. you did show the play with like 7 guys missing a tackle. when I watched I was saying these guys look to pooped to pop. that tends to be the result. question is are our players fit to play full 60 minutes. maybe it's just me I think the difference in 1st half and 2nd is they they ran of gas. like a fighter who throws to many punches put get arm weary and gets beat late. your insight thanks john cosides

Bowen: 1. The Colts had their troubles in setting the edge against the Texans a few weeks back. Miller really excels in the open field and when the Colts did lose contain, he made them pay. 2. Yeah, I don't think it's a conditioning thing with this team. We've seen in all three wins both the offense and defense making plays late to seal those victories. On the Miller play, that was just a fundamental breakdown with guys in the right place but not being able to get the shifty runner on the ground.

Eric S. (Boynton Beach, FL)

Hey Kevin,

I hope all is well and thank you for answering my last question! It's always good to hear from the experts!

My question concerns the Colts Nickel Package. It seems they lean on the nickel normally consisting of the best 3 CBs at that time and 2 safeties. Is this typically used only on 3rd Downs?

I have also recently seen a sub package with the opposite with 3 safeties. With Clayton Geathers, TJ Green & Mike Adams. I have to say that is a pretty athletic group, but Mike Adams is getting older. What kind of safety do you see replacing Adams?

We have a beast in Clayton Geathers that acts almost as a linebacker with this nickel. You also have the speedy TJ Green who is all over the field but I believe needs more development in coverage. What skill set would you say complement these 2 in the nickel? As always much appreciated!

Bowen: 1. Nowadays, teams are in sub packages (which includes a bunch of nickel) well over 50 percent of the time. It seems like defenses more and more are in nickel even on second down, especially when it's second and longer. 2. The future at the safety position here in Indianapolis is definitely Geathers and Green. What we've seen early out of those two is that Geathers thrives closer to the line of scrimmage and Green often showcases off his sideline-to-sideline ability in the back end of the defense. I think those specific skills are why the Colts find them so versatile in their usage within the dime/nickel packages.

Mark R. (South Carolina)

Hi Kevin,

Always enjoy seeing the pictures of the team leaving Indy for road games. My question is, do they fly out of the Indy airport or is that a private airport they fly out of? Thanks for your time.

Mark R.

Bowen: Yes, the Colts do indeed fly out of the Indy airport in leaving for their road games. You can check out the travel photos that Mark is referring to, right here.

Jacob T. (Columbia)

I'm back! And I have another question! What with the immediate lack of pass rush... could the colts be looking to move some of their rookies into starting roles just to see if they have any juice to bring... also I've written a couple of times about an outside linebackers named erick stricker. He is currently a free agent who pushed and nearly made the roster for the Buffalo bills, he's a pass rusher and I think he's well worth atleast a practice squad spot. Do u see any chance the colts would take a flier on striker and sign him to the practice squad as he fits one of their biggest future needs?

Bowen: Well, the only rookie the Colts have in their pass rushing group right now is currently hurt. Curt Maggitt injured his ankle against Houston and missed last week's game in Nashville. The Colts are searching for any pass rush juice. So you don't need to doubt they aren't exploring all potential fits, especially those currently on the open market or off another team's practice squad. Like I've said before, I still think the future lead pass rush guy for this team has to come from the 2017 NFL Draft.

Matthew G. (Evansville, IN)

Great strip sack touchdown after the two minute warning. However, why do we continue to use what I like to call the "Prevent - us winning - defense?" I just saw 4 opponent plays go 60 yards "trying not to give up the big play." If I hit a 60 yard pass in one of 4 attempts, isn't that just as bad? Why not just keep doing what got us to 34-23 instead of backing off and giving up 10-20 yard chunk plays just to keep the clock running? I've seen our team get bit by this time and time again, both at the end of games and at the end of the halves.

Bowen: Matthew, at that point of the game, the only way Tennessee was going to get back into it was with a quick strike, followed by some onside kick luck. The Colts wanted the Titans to eat up some clock. That's where the "four plays to get 60 yards" is much, much better than the "one play to get 60 yards." Leading by 11 in that scenario, the Colts knew the Texans had just one timeout. Therefore the clock was a tremendous ally to the Colts.

Adam H. (New York)Hi Kevin!

That was a great win against the Titans! Andrew and the offense played fantastic and the offensive line was solid. Also, T.Y McGill is a monster. He's proven himself several times (3 sacks last year in the final games of the season and a safety), and now in his first actual game of the season where he was going to play significant amounts, he has once again proved with a strip sack. Will Coach and Grigson finally make him a legit starter on the defensive line instead of saying there's too many bodies and there had to be one omission. He is a pass rushing and run stuffing DT, and we need all the pass rush we can get. He's, in my opinion, the most disruptive lineman we have, and I think if we can get a nice edge rusher in the first round of the draft like a Carl Lawson or a Derek Barnett, our pass rush next year could be much stronger I think...
Thanks so much for answering our questions!

Bowen: I think where T.Y. McGill is best suited is as a situational rusher and in those sub packages. His greatest impact comes on passing downs and that's where the Colts are currently using him. When this team is in the base defense, I still think a grouping of David Parry, Kendall Langford and Arthur Jones (or Henry Anderson, when healthy) gives you your best starting front on more frequent run downs.

Debbie P. (Macy, IN)

It was great to get a win. Why oh why don't they play TY McGill more? All he does is make huge plays when he gets the chance to play. I say bench someone else and let him play. He deserves it. 
Also I love how Haag is playing. Do you feel he has a chance to be a starter soon?

Bowen: Since I focused on McGill above, let's concentrate on your Joe Haeg question here. Haeg is a starter right now for this team. It's clear this staff views him as one of the team's best lineman. Normally, right tackle would be the spot for the fifth-round rookie. Last week, with Jack Mewhort out, the Colts used Haeg over at left guard. If the entire group is healthy, Haeg at right tackle appears to be where the Colts want to use him right now. Haeg is a starter right now and is obviously a big part of the future in front of Andrew Luck.

JB (Atlanta)

First of all, that was a good win for the Colts, especially heading into the next few weeks of even better teams. I have two questions.

  1. In one of the last mailbags someone mentioned trading to get Joe Haden. I think our corners and safeties(barring all the penalties for crictical yardage) are one of the better parts of our defense. What about trading for another linebacker? Seems like we're one game wrecker or two away from having a better defense. Or is that more of a draft need?
  1. Watching the game Sunday, I heard one of the commentators mention that the TD Robert Mathis had, was his first. Did he mean of the year/season or career? Seemed hard to believe the latter, being how dominant he's been for so long. Anyway, thanks for the consideration and your hard work answering our questions. Very Much appreciated.

Bowen: 1. I hear you there. But I do think it's more of a draft need. The Colts have to get younger at that position. You have several guys north of 30 years old (Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole, D'Qwell Jackson). It's time to infuse that position with young talent. That comes through the draft. Teams just aren't trading high-level linebacker talent. 2. Yes, that was wrong. Robert Mathis has three career touchdowns. He had a fumble return for a touchdown back in 2008 versus the Browns. Last year in Jacksonville Mathis jumped on an errant snap for a touchdown. And then, of course, the one on Sunday.

Jarrett M. (Jersey City, NJ)

Great win this past week. It's really about time, we really need to get it together and keep it together.

When will this O-Line be corrected?

Why are we not drafting more physical receivers with size (think Dez Bryant, Anquan Bolden etc.)?

And although I didn't get to see this weeks game (college student lot of homework) who broke Andrew Luck? He doesn't seem the like the same Luck. He's more hesitant and indecisive. But I still will put all my money on him, just protect him and get an official back who can help him and Gore.

Best Regeards,

A True Fan and possible future Colts recruiter.

Bowen: 1. The Colts spent four draft picks on the offensive line this past year and I think we are starting to see some positive growth within that group. The Colts have four starters 25 or younger up front and that unit has given Andrew Luck a cleaner pocket the last two weeks. For the line, the bodies should be there to have that group see the necessary improvement from previous seasons. 2. Well, the Colts did draft a physical receiver in Donte Moncrief a few years back. He's the bigger body guy of the group. I think a balance of that size and the speedier skill guys makes a lot of sense. 3. I don't think we are watching the same Andrew Luck at all. He has been very decisive and really good this year. Check out this piece for more on Luck's start to 2016.

Paul M. (Pittston, PA)

Hey Kevin, what's with all the penalties, and missed tackles. This has to fall on poor coaching. Thoughts

Bowen: It falls on everyone. When the players step out on the field they have to have the professionalism to avoid the continued penalties and the missed tackles that we have seen lead to big plays this season. And the coaches have to drill those things, too. The Colts are on pace to approach a franchise record in penalties for a season. That's not a good thing. For the Colts to start putting any win streak together, the penalties have to decrease immediately.

Austin S. (Connersville, IN)

Thank you for answering a question I had a few weeks back. One thing I've thought about for awhile is, who will replace Gore once he leaves in the next year or two? I honestly don't think Colts have the talent on their roster currently to replace Gore. What do you think the chances of the Colts drafting a good running back in the 1st or 2nd round? I honestly would love to see someone of Leonard Fournette's caliber come to the Colts. If the Colts could have a running back threat like Edgerrin James was, I believe Colts could be a Super Bowl contender. What are you thoughts?

Bowen: Austin, this is a good question. If you've read past mailbags, you know that I believe taking a running back in 2017 falls right in line with my thinking. Now, taking one as early as you want, doesn't have to happen, in my opinion. Remember, Frank Gore is still under contract through 2017. Could you get a back in the third or fourth round of 2017 and have him learn behind Gore, before taking over full-time in 2018? It's such a deep running back group in 2017 that there should be plenty of quality in the middle-ish rounds.

Jared S. (West Memphis, AR)

Hey Kevin, Just wanted to know why Edwin Jackson isnt starting behind Dqwell Jackson. 53 showed alot of energy we need on Defense. More Edwin more McGill would you agree?

Bowen: Again, we talked about T.Y. McGill more above, so let's focus on Edwin Jackson here. Boy, didn't you notice Jackson flying around on Sunday? That was the No. 53 we saw during the preseason and why he made this team. Jackson had three tackles in 13 snaps and got some playing time late for Josh McNary. I don't think we will see Jackson starting this week, but it would not surprise me at all if he got more playing time. Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino isn't afraid to change up his personnel rotation. He's done that several times already through the first seven weeks of 2016. Jackson had not played a defensive snap yet this season before Sunday. But he showed reason to earn more reps in the coming weeks.

Dave C. (New Castle, IN)

I know that Quan Bray is on IR. I believe his injury was ankle, and I am guessing of the high ankle variety. That said, can he come back this year and if possible, is that just a pipe dream?

Bowen: It was a fractured ankle that Bray suffered against the Texans. Chuck Pagano didn't reveal a specific timetable for when Bray will get back to full health. With the Colts approaching the halfway point of the season, the team has two IR options they can possibly bring back. Bray is one of them. Trent Cole (back) is the other. Teams can bring back one IR a guy season. It's going to be a while before this idea is really investigated (guys have to spend at least eight weeks on IR). Unlike other teams, the Colts really don't have a definite "IR to return" option after seven weeks.

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