Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Will We See More Darius Butler At Safety?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the unchallengeable fumble from Sunday, Andrew Luck’s play in 2016 and another early look at some 2017 Draft scenarios.

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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:Lily S. (Indiana)

Why don't the Colts utilize Jordan Todman as a punt returner instead of Chester Rogers?

Bowen: When Quan Bray went on injured reserve a few weeks back, the media asked Todman about his prospects as a punt returner. He said it's something he hasn't done in the NFL. Fielding a punt does have its differences from a kickoff. Chuck Pagano said this week the Colts are sticking with Rogers, but the decision making for the rookie returnman has to improve. Here is what Pagano had to say about Rogers on Monday: "Again, we have a young returner that we have to keep addressing and we'll keep addressing that guy and get him coached up to make some great decisions back there and better decisions and that will come, he's just a young guy."

Justin R. (Haymarket, VA)

Hey Kevin, my question comes after the packers game in which our dbs were the ones on the field the most. Do you think that we might see butler as a safety and geathers as a lb more often because with how Melvin played at corner we could then move Robinson to the Slot position?

Bowen: This a very intriguing question. I do think it's very possible the Colts have opened up a new part of their playbook that they should feel comfortable using. Now, a couple of things to think about though. First, the Packers' offensive makeup right now really forced the Colts to improvise with their defensive personnel and using such a unique package. Secondly, would the return of Mike Adams (who missed Sunday's loss with a groin injury) alter the usage of this sort of look? Also, teams that have a much more natural running game would keep this package to a minimum. Credit to Darius Butler, Rashaan Melvin and Clayton Geathers for allowing the Colts to execute this game plan on Sunday. I do think the Colts could be more willing to use this going forward, but the right circumstances are going to dictate this.

Zack W. (Bedford, VA)

Hey kevin, great great win this week! My question for you is about the reffing in the game. At a time in the game we made a tackle close to the sideline and knocked the ball lose. Davis made an incredible effort to push the back into play to which we recovered soon after. At first the refs deemed that Davis was out of bounds when he touched the ball making the play dead. Then when Pagano threw the challenge flag they picked it up and said it wasn't challengeable because "there wasn't an immediate recovery" when we clearly recovered within seconds of the fumble. Do you agree with this call? I certainly didn't but I was also curious about what makes plays unchalleable? Seems to me that every play should be.

Bowen: The ruling from the official was that the play could not be challenged because an immediate recovery did not occur (due to the ball being batted back into play a couple of times and no one recovering the ball clearly). CBS never showed a great angle of the replay. But it looked like Vontae Davis was in bounds when he touched the ball. The player more in question, in my eyes, was Curt Maggitt. It looked like a body part of Maggitt's might have been out of bounds. Nonetheless, I would have liked to have seen it reviewed, but I under the administration of the rule not allowing it.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Thanks as always for your work, Kevin! Much needed win tonight, especially for fan/locker room morale. I think the lesson to take from the game is that execution is key. When players were executing, we saw what makes the Colts dangerous. When they weren't, we saw why this team struggles.

On the positive side, the read by Butler to jump the pass on his INT was beautifully done. The KO return TD was sprung by a great block by Ferguson. Gore's first TD owed a lot to the exceptional block by Castonzo to open the left side. And the back shoulder TD from Luck to Moncrief was executed to perfection. We also saw some of the things that hold the team back, though. Most notably, the tackling was pretty awful (again). Not as bad as some other weeks, but still really bad. In addition, Luck's 2nd INT was either a high misfire or affected by contact he could see coming from a mile away (hard to tell from my angle how the rusher affected the throw). Either way, I put that firmly on him, not the defender.

I still have reservations about the team's defensive talent (especially in the pass rush), the coach/GM, and their week-in, week-out consistency. But play execution really showed itself tonight, leading to the play script we expected to see ever since the start of the season (Colts will allow 28 points, but score just enough to win a shootout). I know I'm just a schlub who can sit on his couch and say the team would be better if they executed properly, but do you have any locker room/coaching staff insight into the role that play execution played tonight, either positive or negative?

Bowen: While I'm not on the inside of specific meetings by any means, I think there were a couple of things that could relate to Sunday being the best game of the season for the Colts. On paper, this didn't look like an epiphany sort of result for the Colts. But I guess that's why they play the games. Why might it have occurred? First, this was a desperate football team. A staple of Chuck Pagano has been his teams playing their best when firmly up against the wall (of course, the Colts cannot afford to be in those situations any more if they want to make the postseason in 2016). Second, I thought the specific message Pagano implored his team in Week Nine was crystal clear focus. That was to win four separate five-minute segments (at the starts and ends to each half). That obviously resonated, and clicked, with this team. Lastly, here was a post-game quote from D'Qwell Jackson offering something into why he thought things came togetehr on Sunday: "We had to draw the line in the sand at some point. Defensively, if we come out and play well, and create more opportunity for Andrew and our offense, we will win a lot of games. I think (Sunday), everyone was locked in from the beginning. From (Saturday) night in the meetings, you can tell it was different and guys were going to do everything. Guys were locked in. We are going into a bye week and we needed a good taste with this." Now, it's up to the Colts to string together similar efforts to what we saw on Sunday. That has been missing this season.

Patrick B. (Evansville, IN)

Hi Kevin,
First of all I really enjoy reading the mailbag so thanks for keeping up with it. I have a couple questions about the offense.
1) I keep seeing articles about how the o-line has regressed this season; but from what I've seen on the numbers, a big reason for the high number of hits and sacks seems to be more because Andrew luck is holding the ball longer than before and trying to do more. Has there been anymore of an effort from the team and/or coaching staff to work with luck on this? Luck and the offense seem to work much better when he doesn't try to go deep down field on every pass.
2)This question also ties into the QB hits and holding onto the ball. Why is it that with Andrew Luck's mobility we don't see more natural "role out" plays to allow him to wait for some longer routes to develop? We have a very mobile QB that basically sits in the pocket, takes almost 3" to throw the ball and kinda just waits to be hit. I was just curious why the coaching staff seems to want to "handcuff" Luck every season?

Thanks.

Bowen: Patrick, happy to do them twice a week. Always enjoyable. 1. This is something the Colts are going to have live with when it comes to Andrew Luck. Does him holding onto the ball a bit longer lead to a few more sacks? Yes. But some of Luck's biggest plays have come from his innate ability to extend plays, and stand in the pocket to take hits, while still moving the chains. Look at that 3rd-and-10 conversion to Jack Doyle on Sunday. Luck was wrapped up by Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Presto! Luck escaped from Clinton-Dix and delivered the ball to Doyle for the 20-yard gain. Hitting on chunk plays are a part of the Indy offense. You can't ignore the ability of guys like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett to stretch the field. Also, think about how many sacks Luck avoids because of his athleticism. 2. I'm not sure why we don't see more stuff on the run. Maybe Luck isn't the biggest fan of throwing from side-to-side, and would prefer to stay in the pocket? Rob Chudzinski has stressed Luck's footwork this season, so that possibly has something to do with the Colts not using their quarterback on as many designed rollouts like we see other teams employ.

Dustin P. (Virginia)

Hey Kevin I have a few questions for you today involving the draft.

  1. With the looks of it the colts are going to have a top 8 pick. There are two prospects in that range that really intrigue me Leonard Fournette and Jabrill Peppers. Leonard Fournette would change our team give us a Rb that defenses would have to worry about and stack the box giving more room for our wr room to work. Jabrill pepper is Mr.Do it all ok defense we could play him at any position and it would help out the defense. Which prospect would you like to see drafted by the colts? Personally I like Leonard Fournette.
  1. With a emphasis being made on building through the draft I have a few players I think we could possibly trade for more pick when the league's "new years day" come. Dwayne Allen we could get something like a 2 or 3 for him. Phillip Dorsett we could get a high pick for him. Anthony Constanzo we could a decent pick for him. There are some more but these are players we have invested a lot in but don't really have a return worth the risk.
  1. Do you think that the colts will invest an early pick or two on the offensive line? Players like Guard Billy Price, Guard Dan Freeny, Tackles Ryan Ramyanck or Adam Bisonwaty would be big additions to the line and it would give us a Good offensive line!

Thank you for the time!

Bowen: 1. If it came down to those two, I would probably lean slightly towards Peppers, if he can play cornerback. I think you could find a spot for Peppers defensively especially with how the NFL is changing in how teams have to defend nowadays. That's still a little too early for a running back in my mind. To be honest, I think a game-changing linebacker is the better option if the Colts were to pick that high. 2. Yeah, you aren't getting a second or third-round pick for Dwayne Allen. That's now how things work in the NFL. The top tight end in a draft sometimes is a second-round pick. 3. I'm not a huge fan of taking an offensive lineman that early in this upcoming draft. For me, you invested a lot last year in offensive line picks. You need to develop those guys, with a young core already involving Denzelle Good and Jack Mewhort (and Anthony Castonzo still just 28). I don't think offensive line is THAT pressing of a need when we are talking about the top of the 2017 Draft.

Zac N. (Indiana)

Great win in Green Bay! I have s couple of questions. 1- I know we got the win, but what was Andrew Luck thinking on the second interception? Instead of throwing the ball away, he tries to get it to Jack Doyle on what is a very difficult throw. To me I saw a little bit of the 2015 version of Andrew Luck. 2- Can you please explain to me why Chester Rogers continues to field punts inside the Colts' 10 hard line? Sunday he called for a fair catch at the four. Why? 3- I've liked what I've seen from Turbin and Todman this year. What are the chances they are both Colts next year? Thanks Kevin!

Bowen: The other two questions have been answered above. In short, it's hard to come up with definite answers for why Luck and Rogers made those plays. Those are two they would definitely like to have back. 3. Both Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman came to Indianapolis on one-year contracts. I'd say both players have made impacts in different roles. Turbin came here wanting to show that he could be a starter in this league. Turbin, 26, has given the Colts consistent production via the run and in the receiving game. Whereas Todman has been more of a special teams contributor. I do think there's a good chance both return next season. Frank Gore has another year on his contract. But you need depth at that position and these guys have provided that in 2016. These two names won't be the major offseason storylines for the Colts, but they have proven to be worthy additions.

Andrew E. (Lafayette, IN)

I realize im asking too late for the green bay game, but something I saw in the tennesee game made me extremely, happy. On a third and three or maybe two we saw a read option where luck began to give it to gore, kept it and easily picked up the first down. I remember in the offseason we heard that roll outs and read options would ve apart of the offense. My question is have we just veen holding some of our cards back? Its week 9 we need to put some more cards on the table and luck out side of the pocket in a passing or designed run capacity is simply to great an asset to not use. Hes like aaron rodgers when rolling out, maybe better, and can help coverage break away when he starts to move out making for an easy pass, we all should know by now that his speed and size are not to be ignored either and he can run on purpose with out exposong himself to injury. Will we ever see our qbs full skillset unleashed or is everyone gun shy now after he got hurt last year.

Bowen: Andrew, did you tap again into the playbook of Rob Chudzinski? We saw the read option on Sunday in Green Bay. It was Luck keeping it successfully for a third-and-short conversion. I don't think Luck is "gun shy" at all in using his feet. Is Luck being smarter with the end of his runs, leading to more slides? Definitely. But, in my opinion, Luck has not been hesitant in using his running ability to keep plays alive and extending drives.

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