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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Will The Colts Be A Playoff Contender In Second Half Of 2016?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire with several 2017 draft questions, the play of the offensive line and who the 2017 unrestricted free agents are for the Colts.

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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:Jacob H. (Fullerton , CA)

Kevin- Tough loss, no one was playing well at any position on Sunday. Lets face it.. The Colts just arent a good team right now. Recognizing the problem is the first step towards remedying it. That being said, my question this week is draft related (I hope you dont mind since there really isnt much to say about the team right now) It looks like the Colts are headed towards a top 10 pick this April, my question to you is this, lets say we do have a top ten pick, a) Is it likely that we would trade up to draft Myles Garret? We need star power ASAP at OLB (And ILB) or b) should the Colts follow the Cowboys strategy this past draft and take Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook, depending who is available? Thanks for your work

Bowen: This begins quite a few draft questions in our Wednesday mailbag. Let's concentrate on the Garrett part of your question (we get into the other parts of your question throughout the mailbag). For arguments sake, let's say that Garrett goes No. 2 overall. Last year, for the Eagles to move up from No. 8 overall to No. 2 overall, it cost them their first-round pick, a third rounder, a fourth rounder, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 first-round pick. So to move up six spots, it cost the Eagles four picks in the first three rounds (both teams swapped fourth-round picks). In my opinion, that is such a steep price to move up six spots. You really are gouging a large chunk of that current draft and future ones, too. The Colts have such a priority on hitting these future drafts, and not just in the first round. Don't get me wrong, Garret appears to be a tremendous talent but if the edge rushing class is as deep as some pundits think, then patience should be rewarded in this situation.

Anthony O. (Springfield, MO)

Hey Kevin haven't submitted in a little bit but been watching and reading on a weekly basis. Now, I hate the term "panic button" but with the big, and much needed, win over the Titans followed by this not very good outing, at home mind you, in a OSS vs the Chiefs, how much more can this team take before we are basically stuck having to look forward to next year with playoffs being out of reach? The Titans came back and won putting them with a better record and in 2nd and Titans are back up to a 2 game lead on us with their win over Detroit. So how much hope can we have to really turn this around before we have to stick a fork in the season? I'm hoping things get fixed but can't win the division without stringing wins together.

Bowen: At the midway point of 2016, the AFC South looks like this: Houston (5-3), Tennessee (4-4), Indianapolis (3-5) and Jacksonville (2-5). The Colts are behind the eight ball in their record and also the fact they are 1-2 against the division in three games this season. I really think the next four games are going to decide this season for the Colts in terms of just how meaningful Weeks 14-17 will be for this team. Coming up, the Colts go to the Packers, have a bye, host the Titans and Steelers, then travel to take on the Jets. Let's say Houston goes 3-1 the next four and the Colts go 3-1. Then that Week 14 contest against the Texans at Lucas Oil would be a must win to get the AFC South lead down to one with three weeks left in the season. That to me has to happen. You need to be one game back with three to go and hope that things fall your way with tiebreakers. The Texans play just two teams the rest of the year currently in the playoffs. The Colts play five. Throw in the two-game deficit the Colts have and the early tiebreaker in Houston's favor, the margin for error is so very slim for this team the rest of the way.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)Hey, Kevin. Thanks as always for your work. I feel like a broken record discussing the team itself (missed tackles, dumb penalties, blown coverages, dropped passes, not prepared, lacking pass rush/pass protection, questioning the Pagano/Grigson extensions, etc). It's exhausting and frustrating, primarily because these are not new problems. That being said, I'll pivot away from this season and ask a far-too-early draft question.

The past few drafts, myself and many others have criticized Ryan Grigson's draft priorities. There are certainly arguments to be made about depth of a position vs. team need vs. BPA, but many fans have criticized some of Grigson's choices, particularly in the first round. While Jacoby Brissett still has time to become an impact starter, he remains a decent example of such criticism: on the day he was drafted, he was fighting to be the 3rd-4th string WR, while the team had major holes at every level of the defense and along the offensive line.

This year, however, will be very interesting. Considering the schedule and level of play we have seen from the Colts, a pick in the top 10/15 isn't out of the question. OLB is a glaring need, and the team could really use help at ILB, CB, and RB. While the defensive needs loom large and the RB pool is quite deep, there is still an intriguing question at RB. Should other teams have the mentality that the RB pool is deep and drain the elite defensive talent pool early, would you consider either Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook? Normally I would face-palm at that decision, but if the defensive talent is lacking, I sincerely believe those two are so head and shoulders above the rest of their RB class that I might consider it. Fournette looks like a faster version UGA-vintage Gurley and Cook looks like a souped-up version of tOSU-era Elliot, albeit with a little more ball security problems. Otherwise, I doubt McCaffrey lasts til their 2nd pick, so I would look more towards round 3 for a RB then, at which point the drop from Fournette/Cook to Perrine, Freeman, etc. is fairly significant. Thoughts?

Bowen: When I watch the running backs this season in college football, especially the ones at the top of the class, I'm amazed with their running ability. Several of them look like instant stars at the professional level, even if they don't walk into the ideal running back situation, like Ezekiel Elliott had going to Dallas. I will say that I'm still hesitant on taking one in the first round. Let me say that until you see an actual board start to fall, and can truly gauge what the defensive talent looks like compared to the running back options, it's tough to say for sure what the best decision would be. But I feel pretty confident in saying that the defensive needs for me rank higher than finding a bonafide No. 1 back. I'm a firm believer in taking a running back at some point in 2017, but if Frank Gore has another year in him (he's under contract through '17), I'm fine with the veteran returning as the starter and the Colts grooming a rookie to eventually take over. I just think the defensive talent has to find some playmakers. You look at those elite defenders around the NFL and they usually come from being top picks, which is something you can't say with the same high level of frequency at the running back position. Again, I think Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook are wonderful talents. But unless the defensive board at such a pick is completely barren, you have to look longggg and hardddd at that side of the ball. As always, enjoy the insight Stan.

Mark M. (Bloomington, IN)Hi Kevin. With Andrew Luck being 5-10 in his last 15 games, with the offensive line to blame in a major way, I have two questions.

  1. What is stopping our o-line from performing like the elite lines of the Cowboys, Raiders, and Patriots? How do we get from where we are to where they are?
  1. How much is the defense really at fault?

Bowen: 1. I think it's a couple of factors. One being the Cowboys, for example, committed some serious resources into improving the offense line. They spent three first-round picks on the line and then had to struggle woefully last season to acquire a talent like Ezekiel Elliott to run behind that group. The Colts feel like the parts are starting to be put into place up front. They drafted four guys up front last season. Now comes the cohesion that has to occur for this line to start playing more consistently. I think the talent is now there in the trenches to be a better unit. 2. Well, I think the defense definitely deserves some blame for how the Colts have played this season. The Colts have given up at least 22 points in every game this season. The defense ranks 28th in the NFL in points allowed this year. Offensively, Andrew Luck had the offense ranked fourth in points scored until last week's season-low out of 14 points. While the offense had probably its worst outing of the season last week, the defense has not been able to close out terrific chances for wins against the Lions and Texans.

Paul M. (Pittston, PA)

Hey Kevin, with the Colts leading the league in sacks allowed, dropped passes and probably up there in penalties and missed tackles. How do you see this team improving this year. All of the above is poor coaching, except for the lack of talent on the o-line

Bowen: This is the million-dollar question(s). Some combination of what you mentioned above has shown up in pretty much every loss. Things were progressing in many of these areas before the drops popped back up last week. The penalties were down from a numbers standing, but they were very untimely impacting scoring drives for the Chiefs and taking away such opportunities for the Colts. The tackling was better last week, but the Chiefs elusive receiver Tyreek Hill made several plays in the open field. I don't have the answers for how the Colts go about improving in these areas. Like Frank Gore has said, 'We can talk and talk about doing it, but until we actually do it…' What's on the Colts side right now is time. They have eight weeks to change things, but that time is starting to shrink fast.

Marissa M. (Tampa, FL)

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for doing the mailbag week in and week out ...I've been kind of upset the last couple weeks you haven't answered my questions. I know a lot of the mailbag has been negative- but us fans put a lot of time and money into this team- and sometimes have the right to complain. Anyways- quick couple questions- with the offensive line playing so bad, will le'raven Clark see any playing time coming up? And with Anthony Castanzo playing so bad at LT, any chance we move him to RG or RT to see if someone else can step up? Look forward to hearing from you- thanks again!

Bowen: I would be surprised if either of these moves happened. The offense line had played better against Houston and Tennessee, before the struggles last week versus Kansas City. I would be shocked if the team moved Castonzo around on the line. Every snap he's played in the NFL, since his 2011 debut, has been at the left tackle position. As long as Castonzo is healthy, he's this team's left tackle. With Le'Raven Clark, I still believe he's (at least) a year away from cracking the lineup. When the Colts have needed guys to fill in this season, they've used other options to shuffle things up front. We knew Clark was going to have an adjustment period coming from the college ranks where he didn't play in a pro-style offense. I think that's a reason why Joe Haeg has had much more success as a rookie than Clark.

Dan W. (Louisville)

I'm a long time Colts fan. My question is "How long will the colts leadership tolerate the recent underperformance of the team?" I'm sure the men work hard, however the lackluster games recently are frustrating to watch. With all of the talent and potential on the roster, the team appears to not be gelling, synergizing or coming together. In addition, with a stud like Gore, why do they abandon the run so quickly?

Bowen: Jim Irsay is one of the most competitive owners in sports. Under his watch, the Colts have been a regular in the playoffs, more so than pretty much every other NFL team. If the Colts continue like they've started 2016, we will see how Irsay approaches the offseason and if he feels any intervening is necessary. Sunday was really the first time we saw the Colts truly go away from the run game early on. Frank Gore had just nine carries, four fewer than his previous low this season. It's not like the Colts were down two-to-three scores early in the game, forcing them into a pass-heavy day. That eventually came though. Gore is on pace for more than 1,000 yards this season and I'd expect the Colts to give him plenty of chances this weekend to make an impact. I'm also curious if Robert Turbin will get any more touches in the coming weeks. Turbin has delivered with more production as of late.

Jack Y. (Illinois)

Can the Colts trade Dwayne Allen even though he is currently injured. The New York Jets would be a good trade partner, considering they need a tight end and own a pleathora of 3-4 pass rushers. Also, could the Colts aquire more picks come draft day if they are picking high and someone wants to move up for a QB? Is that a possibility or am I just dreaming. Thanks,

Jack

Bowen: Yes, the Colts could have traded Dwayne Allen. I say that because the trade deadline passed and Allen wasn't traded. No surprise there. Yes, the Colts could definitely be a willing trade partner to move down in this year's draft. We saw them trade down in the second round last year and got an extra fourth-round pick from the Packers. Like I say below, I'm normally a friend of trading down and acquiring more picks.

John S. (Bellevue, NE)

Who are the colts free agents in the 2017 offseason ?

Bowen: Taking a quick gander to Over The Cap, the unrestricted free agents listed for 2017 are: CB-Darius Butler, RB-Robert Turbin, RB-Jordan Todman, OLB-Robert Mathis, OLB-Erik Walden, OLB-Lavar Edwards, OG-Hugh Thornton, TE-Jack Doyle, S-Mike Adams, OLB-Trent Cole, TE-Chase Coffman and OLB-Chris Martin. The Colts have 4 starters listed there: Doyle, Mathis, Walden and Adams.

Zach M. (Rochester, NY)

Hello Kevin

My question is why haven't the Colts brought back Trevor bates? I liked his talent I rather have him on the p.s. then luke Rhodes

Thanks as always

Bowen: I'm not sure why the Colts didn't bring back Trevor Bates. If I had to guess, I think they just wanted closer looks at other linebackers. They observed Bates for a while and roster mechanics forced his departure. Now, they are taking a look at Luke Rhodes and Delontrez Mount as practice squad linebackers.

Dustin P. (Gretna, VA)Hey Kevin I have a little mock draft but with a twist I was wondering if you could tell me what you think!

Colts trade #9 overall pick to the redskins for the #19 pick and a third rounder and a fifth Round! (This draft position is based off today's standings)

19 Round one; Charles Harris OlB Missouri: A olb with above average speed and motor and has a really good first step!

Round Two: Sydney Jones CB Washington: A very good CB who would come in and could start on the outside from day one!

Round Three: Ryan Anderson Olb Alabama: A very under rated pass rusher who can also occasionally drop in coverage! Ryan and Charles would give the colts a deadly pass rush for years to come! Maybe like the Mathis and Freeney Days! But no pass rush could be that good again!

Round Three(via Redskins) Anthony Walker Ilb Northwestern: A good all around Linebacker who would start for many years!

Round four: Eddie Jackson S Alabama: Before a leg injury that ended his senior season he would have been a first round pick! I've seen some people have him falling to the fifth! Getting Jackson here would be a steal?

Round five: Jamaal Williams Rb Byu: A underrated senior Rb who play great for the colts!

Round Five (via Redskins): Jehu Chesson wr Michigan: A possession Wr who would add good depth

Round five( comp pick from Freeman): Kevin King CB Washington: A good CB to add much needed Depth

Round Six: Duke Dawson CB Florida: Another CB to add depth but Dawson is more of a nickel CB

Round Seven: Tyrique Jarrett Nt Pittsburgh: A nt to add more depth and could challenge for playing time!!!

I think a draft like that could help the defense and team big time!! What do you think? Thank you For the time!

Bowen: Dustin, I think many people would be fans of this draft haul. I'm always a fan of trading back and acquiring more picks. You cover pretty much every level of the defense and I agree with how you prioritized things.

Justin B. (Jupiter, FL)

Kevin,

New to the mailbag but have been a colts fan for over 10 years. My question is- the lions snatched up 2nd rd pick cornerback johnthan banks from the bucs for a 2018 7th round draft pick... pretty much a toss out pick with UDFA now a days and players wanting to hold out to sign with a team they prefer. Why in the world would the colts pass up on this with how much our secondary is hurt/how bad our defense has been this year? Personelle issues aren't a concern- so I'm wondering why the colts didn't try to trade?

Bowen: Well, we have no idea what goes behind closed doors and the sorts of talks the Colts might have had (or didn't have) during the trade deadline process. It sounds like the Bucs were looking for anything to unload Banks. For a close look at the trade process, check out this piece.

Matt W. (Gaithersburg, MD)

Hi Mr. Bowen. Very dissapointing loss to the cheifs. I believe the colts season is goin nowhere this and I hate to say that. We all know the colts are definitely not super bowl material this year and showing signs of not even playoff material. Not bashing the team or anything like that. Great players just the team ain't clickin together. Even our receivers considering speedy, barley get open. A player here and there has a good game that's it, nobody has consistent good games. Luck barley does himself. In your opinion what do you think needs to change for the colts to start getting W's? My opinion we need a good young speedy strong LB, a good young speedy strong RB, a good young speedy strong edge rusher, a young bigger stronger receiver and a tall young fast lockdown corner and 2 more offensive linemen the bigger the stronger the fast the better. All in all I believe that's what the colts need bigger stronger younger and faster. Do you think it could be the plays them selfs and not the play callin by the coaches?

Bowen: When you go 3-5 in the first eight game of a season and the same issues are reoccurring, then blame falls at many levels. If we are looking ahead to 2017 from a personnel standpoint, the focus has to be on the defensive side of the ball. Sure a young running back and possibly another versatile offensive lineman would be nice, but for me the main area to address has to be finding impact defenders. The linebacker and cornerback positions are where I keep coming back to. In today's NFL, you have to have young, talented cornerbacks to succeed. The Colts would be well served in trying to find one with Vontae Davis turning 29 years old next year. Linebacker, both the inside and the outside spots, could use bolstering. If you look at the elite edge guys in the league, so many are first-round picks. That's where my early look at 2017 lies.

Mikey J. (Folkestone, England)

Hi Kevin.

Thanks again for what you do for the fans. It's cool you take the time to read and respond to questions.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this........

I read and hear, with regularity, the way that kickers and punters do not seem to be seen as an important aspect of the game, possibly seen as lesser athletes and not on par with the skill players.

Some say the kickoff, field goals and extra points should be removed from the game. With extra points being the main call for exclusion. The overall consensus suggests a lot of fans would rather see no extra points and to go for 2 points.

My opinion Kevin, is that having the option to choose to go for 1 point or 2 adds another dimension, this should never be changed.

Next "the field goal".

5 seconds left, it's the playoffs, field goal wins it, does the kicker have the steel to see of the game, 30 million viewers. This is edge of the seat stuff. Amazing, and I see that as no different or less important to a 50 yard touchdown throw and is integral to the game.

Naturally Player safety cannot be ignored. But it would be a shame to remove the kick off. Punt/kick returns can make or break games fumbles/field position/the 90yard return.

My point is; Pats consistency when putting the ball inside the 10 is incredible. I've never seen Matt Overton make a mistake. And the most important reason for my post is Congratulations to Adam. A record 42 straight for us. His career; 4 super bowl rings, 2000 points scored. Hall of fame. 
That's my answer to all the critics. Thank Kevin your thought.

Bowen: Personally, I enjoy the kicking aspect of the game, too. It's part of football. The kickoff to start a game is an iconic image that signifies the game beginning. The strategy involved in field position and how a special teams unit can change that in a blink of an eye is also something I find interesting. Now, kickers are athletes in a different form to other guys on the field. Their athleticism generally comes from what they can do when applying leg to ball, and not so much for what they can do in the trenches or in the open field with ball in hand. I really hope the kicking element continues to have a place in this game.

Alec G. (Bakersfield, CA)Hey kevin bowen

I was wondering if there was any way possible that the colts could cut patrick robinson an trade a one of our draft pics for joe haden? And andrew luck is the besr qb in the league but his contract is to large for our team to grow is there anyway we can renegotiate his contract a little bit ?

Bowen: Yeah I don't think either of these are happening. The Colts need cornerbacks right now. Patrick Robinson has had his ups and downs this season, but I don't really see a younger option on the roster that is deserving of supplanting the veteran corner. The trade deadline has passed and the Colts did not make any move. I didn't expect the Colts to be real big buyers at the deadline. That's really not how the NFL works, especially when you look at just how important those future draft picks are for the Colts. I don't see the Colts wanting to restructure Andrew Luck's contract this early into a deal. You don't see that when a guy has so many years left on a contract. That would be something to explore in a couple of years. There's a reason both sides agreed to the terms they did back in June.

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