INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here.
Let's jump right into this week's questions:
Samye B. (Greensburg, Ind.): "If our kicker has been having been having trouble with his knee since preseason and keeps missing important kicks why have they kept him kicking and why haven't they done something before now instead of waiting????"
Walker: As we knew at the time during training camp, Adam Vinatieri did sit some time out leading into preseason play with a knee injury. He ended up kicking in the Colts' third preseason game, and said this week that the rest he got during that period of time got him feeling good to go for the start of the regular season. He did say he's battled some pain in that knee at times since, but nothing to the extreme that he was limited in any fashion at practice, and nothing like he was feeling heading into this week — thus why he landed on the injury report for the first time all season and was ultimately ruled out for Sunday's Week 14 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, honestly, Frank Reich has explained multiple times, at multiple junctures, why the team has stood by Vinatieri this season. There have been at least two occasions we know of that the team worked out multiple kickers, but obviously felt the best option was to stick with the future Hall of Famer to this point. Fortunately, the timing worked out where a young kicker that the team really liked, Chase McLaughlin, was available on waivers on Wednesday, and the Colts reportedly beat out a couple other teams to get him on their active roster and have him ready to go in place of Vinatieri Sunday against the Buccaneers. It remains a very fluid situation.
Jerry C. (Alhambra, Calif.): "Hey mr walker, ny questions are #1 do you expect Houston to finish a career year with plus sacks? whats the take on if funchess being retained next season or not?. Thanks in advance go colts"
Walker: While Justin Houston has had a terrific first season with the Colts to this point, Jerry, it'd take a final four games unlike any ever seen in league history for him to have a career year. What's clearly within reach for Houston is perhaps his second-best season in terms of sacks, but back in 2014 Houston had a performance for the ages with 22.0 sacks, just a half-sack behind Michael Strahan's NFL single-season record of 22.5 set back in 2001, and tying Jared Allen and Mark Gastineau for the second-best mark of all-time. Houston currently leads the Colts with 8.0 sacks, so he'd need to average 3.5 sacks a game over the final four regular season games to get back to the 22.0 sacks he had five seasons ago, but nevertheless there's no doubt Houston has proven that he's still got plenty left in the tank in his age-30 season.
Scott O. (Elizabethtown, Ky.): "If we win out and go 10 & 6 how much help will need to make the playoffs"
Walker: According to PlayoffStatus.com, as things currently stand, if the Colts win their final four games of the regular season and finish with a 10-6 record, they would have an 82 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the Colts lose just one of their final four games and finish at 9-7, however, their playoff hopes decrease to just 15 percent. So Indy's best bet is to win out and see what happens from there. Easier said than done, I know, but stranger things have happened.
Austin H. (Apex, N.C.): "If Vinny can't kick for the rest of this season, What are the chances that he retires during the offseason? If not likely, do you think he will kick for any other team "
Walker: Adam Vinatieri hasn't even started to publicly discuss his future beyond the rest of this season. While there wasn't much divulged about the results of this week's MRI on Vinatieri's left knee, Frank Reich said Friday that Vinatieri will continue to be monitored on more of a week-to-week basis. So however this season ends for Vinatieri — whether he's able to eventually return, whether he stays on the 53-man roster but doesn't play again or whether he's eventually placed on injured reserve — it's probably a good assumption that, just like the last few seasons, he'll take a little bit of time and then make his intentions for 2020 known. He's more than earned that right.
Richard I. (Martinez, Calif.) "Hi Andrew, My question has to do with two players who were both high draft picks by Ballard but seem to be struggling. Quincy Wilson and Tyquan Lewis were both taken in the 2nd round and initially looked like solid picks. Wilson can no longer even make the game day roster despite a rash of injuries at his position group. Are the guys playing ahead of him more talented or is somthing else going on with him? Towards the end of last season I thought he was playing pretty good football. Do you think he has a future with the Colts or is he a bust. Lewis seems to have been plagued by injuries, but honestly, when he has played he hasn't been very noticeable. So let me ask the same question about him, does he have a future with our Ponies? Thanks for sharing your opinions."
Walker: Quincy Wilson played in the first six games of the season, but since then has only been active one out of the past six weeks — that was Week 11 against the Houston Texans. In his case, it seems as if it's less about what he is or isn't doing, and more about the coaching staff wanting to give opportunities to other guys at the cornerback position, most notably rookie Marvell Tell III — who has really impressed since seeing added defensive snaps. When everybody is healthy, the starting cornerback rotation is clearly Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II, with Moore II sliding inside to slot cornerback and rookie Rock Ya-Sin taking over on the outside in nickel formations. And when Moore II has been injured at times throughout this season, we've seen safety Rolan Milligan step in at nickel cornerback in his place of late. With Moore II (ankle) ruled out Sunday against the Buccaneers, and Ya-Sin (ankle) questionable, it seems as if Wilson could very well be active and ready to go if needed, though, so we'll keep an eye on that.
And it seems to be more injury-related for Tyquan Lewis, who dealt with an ankle issue and was inactive for six straight games before getting back on the field for the Colts' last three contests. For Lewis, it's just taken some time for him to not only work his way back from the injury, but to get back into the fold at practice, which is obviously a huge determinant when it comes to playing time on Sundays. Lewis is now back in the rotation on gamedays, however, and is playing about a third of the defensive snaps when he's out there, so now I think it's more about figuring out whether he's best suited in the interior or off the edge; two weeks ago, Lewis mostly played defensive tackle, but last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, he played all 22 of his defensive snaps at left defensive end. One thing's for sure: there's still a ton of talent in this kid, and it could just be a matter of time, once he can stay consistently healthy, until he really shows it.
Benjamin B. (Indianapolis): "How's Marlon Mack and T.Y. looking for this weekend???"
Walker: Marlon Mack, amazingly, should be good to go to play Sunday against the Buccaneers. Yep, you heard that right: in what will be just 21 days since suffering a fractured right hand in the third quarter of that Week 11 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mack, barring any setbacks from now until kickoff, will return to his role as the Colts' starting running back. He sits just 138 rushing yards away from his first-career 1,000-yard season — depending on how his hand holds up, can Mack get that all in one game against one of the best run defenses in the NFL on Sunday? We'll see.
It's not as promising news for T.Y. Hilton, however. The setback he had with his calf injury last week will force him to miss his second straight game, and his fourth missed game in the last five weeks. Hilton remains week-to-week, and both he and head coach Frank Reich are optimistic about the receiver's chances of returning this season, so hopefully that calf heals up with time and rest and he's able to re-join the team as early as the Colts' Week 15 road matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
Devin S. (Columbus, Ind.): "I'm a high school graduate , father of two supporting a family of four, and I work a lot to do so. I would love to work for the colts organization , and hope one day I get the chance. It would be a dream come true to clock in at Lucas Oil Stadium is there any chance I could get a job there?"
Walker: My best advice, Devin, is to keep checking back with the Colts' employment page on TeamWorkOnline.com — click here for that page. Open positions at Lucas Oil Stadium, meanwhile, are posted right here. Best of luck to you!
Tyler F. (Puyalluo, Wash.): "Even though Chris Ballard has more than proven himself with previous draft classes getting us players like Marlon Mack, Big Q, Darius Leonard, Braden smith, Khari Willis and a few diamonds in the rough such as Anthony walker, Grover Stewart, And Marvell tell, do you think if we draft a QB, he will be in kind of a "hot seat"? Being that quarterback is the position to bust the most and probably the biggest need on our team right now"
Walker: The quarterback position is the most important position not only in football, but in all of sports — there's no doubt about that. And it's not hard to look across the league at the teams that have made the right decisions at that position in the draft, and those that, well, haven't, and typically see a clear difference in terms of wins and losses. The thing is, with the successes Chris Ballard and his personnel staff have already had in their first three drafts with the Colts so far, and then also considering Frank Reich's pedigree as a former NFL quarterback, position coach and play caller, there are likely few teams that can match what the Colts can bring from an overall talent evaluation perspective at the QB position. So all that being said, if the team ultimately decides to utilize a draft pick on a quarterback for the first time since selecting Chandler Harnish with the final pick in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, then the pieces will all be there for that prospect to develop into a solid signal caller. That's, of course, if the team decides to go down that road.
Duncan M. (Athens, Ga.): "The Buccaneers are a big play pass offense with two of the top yardage receivers in the league, and the Colts are the worst in the league in 40+yard pass plays. How can we expect the Colts offense to keep up with the Buccaneers this weekend on the road in Tampa Bay?"
Walker: Didn't we also hear all about these storylines heading into the Week 5 game, on the road, against the Kansas City Chiefs? How'd that one turn out? To me, for the Colts to "keep up" with the Buccaneers' offense on Sunday, it doesn't really have anything to do with Jacoby Brissett trying to match Jameis Winston in the explosive throws category — although one or two certainly wouldn't hurt the Colts' chances. To me, it's important for the Indy offense to stay true to what it is, and that is establishing itself with the run game, and then trying to use that to find openings down the field in the passing game. Tampa Bay's offense, as prolific as it is, also turns the ball over a ton, so the key for the Colts on Sunday will be finding a way to parlay those turnovers into seven points, and not just three (or zero) points— especially when you get a takeaway in your opponent's territory, like Indy did twice last Sunday against the Titans.
Jess T. (Dallas): "Do you envision Colts giving Chad Kelly a chance to show what he can do because I have seen him play numerous times. I do believe that he can be a superior player to Brissett and Hoyer."
Walker: We get this question (or a version of it) a lot, Jess, and, no, at this point I don't really see Chad Kelly getting an opportunity to play any sort of significant snaps at quarterback for the Colts over the final four games of the regular season (barring any unforeseen injuries, of course). That's just my take on the situation. Kelly's not only the third-string quarterback, but it seems as if the Colts would want to continue to see what they have in starter Jacoby Brissett, no matter how the rest of the season plays out. Then there's this: Indy doesn't even typically carry three quarterbacks on its active roster, so while Kelly has clearly done a good job coming in and showing development and taking advantage of his opportunities, his status, according to Frank Reich, remains "week-to-week."
"Chad has earned it," Reich said on Nov. 27, when asked how long the team would likely keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. "He has done a good job. So right now we have been able to do that. We will probably stay that way as long as we can."
Johnny H. (Evansville, Ind.): "How come Colts Daily Notebook only posts ONCE a week? LOL I didn't get a PHD but that doesn't seem like a "Daily" publication!"
Walker: Boom, roasted. It's actually (usually) published twice a week, to wrap up the major storylines from the first two days of practice each week during the regular season. Then on the third day we have our "Who's In/Who's Out" article that highlights who's labeled as questionable/doubtful/out for the upcoming game, which could very well serve as a "Daily Notebook," too, but is its own entity for now. I mean, we have daily written content every day of the week, so theoretically we could slap "Colts Daily Notebook" before any headline on Mondays and Tuesdays and it could work, but that's not the point of the series. Like every offseason, we'll take time over the next couple months to evaluate the kind of written content we're providing, what's being consumed (and how it's being consumed), and then we'll formulate a plan moving forward for the 2020 season. The Colts Daily Notebook will certainly be among the series that could very well be in for an overhaul, so stay tuned.
Roger S. (Kokomo, Ind.): "It's not that I'm not a fan of Jordan Wilkins, I am. That said, Jonathon Williams really ran the ball well in the two games prior to the Titans matchup, but didn't get many opportunities in the Titans game. Any thoughts? Great job with Colts Mailbag! I really enjoy it."
Walker: Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing in, Roger! Yeah, to be honest, I wasn't quite sure how the Colts would handle the running back situation in last Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans with Jordan Wilkins officially all the way back from his ankle injury. I had a good feeling Jonathan Williams, coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances, would likely get the start at running back, but just knowing how Frank Reich and his staff operates at that position, oftentimes they like to stick with the hot hand when normal starter Marlon Mack's not on the field. And that's pretty much how Reich explained why Wilkins ended up getting a good majority of the carries in the game: "That was kind of an in-game decision, kind of handled by the coaches on the sideline," Reich said Monday in his weekly conference call. "There were multiple factors that went into that. We love Jonathan (Williams). I mean Jonathan is awesome. It was kind of a little bit hot hand and so on and so forth. There were one or two factors – more than one factor – that went into it, but nothing negative in terms of any general feeling that we have about Jonathan. Those other guys made a couple good plays and we did what we did during that game."
Martin H. (Stockholm, Sweden): "From a now-perspective it seems rather weird that Deion Cain was let go- what was the rationale behind that decision?"
Walker: Well, at the time, the Colts needed more from their wide receivers, and with T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell missing multiple games, and with Devin Funchess on injured reserve, Deon Cain, for whatever reason, just wasn't able to translate his exciting training camp and preseason performances into consistent regular season production. You had Zach Pascal and Chester Rogers already embedded into the offense and making plays, and then you had undrafted rookie Ashton Dulin clearly making his mark on special teams, but the Colts needed a third receiver to step up for them, which is why the team decided to waive Cain and bring back Marcus Johnson. You also have to consider that Cain wasn't being utilized on special teams, and with all the injuries the Colts' defense was dealing with at the time, it might've been tough to justify keeping Cain on the 53-man roster if he was likely going to be inactive each week moving forward. Johnson has stepped in and done a nice job in four games, catching nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Cain was picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers off the Colts' practice squad and has two receptions for 40 yards in two games, and has drawn another couple defensive pass interference penalties. So best of luck to Cain moving forward.
Steven D. (Salt Lake City, Utah): "Hi, so I have an obsession with throwback uniforms. Regardless of the sport/team, I love seeing them. I know the one shell rule makes it hard for NFL teams to do so. What are the possibilities of the Colts wearing the 1956 throwbacks that the team wore on thanksgiving in 2004? Or even bringing back the blue or white face masks for a game or two? Maybe the 1995 away uniforms with the blue pants for an away game?"
Walker: Steven, I love the throwbacks, too. Heck, don't tell anyone, but I'm even a fan of Color Rush uniforms (well, most of them). While I think some teams wear their alternate/throwback uniforms a little too much, I'm all for mixing it up once or twice a season. To be honest, I'm not sure what's in the works for future Colts throwbacks, if anything, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the team had something in the works within the next couple seasons on that front. Stay tuned.