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Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Improving Run Defense, Offensive Pace, Quarterback Clapping

In this week’s Colts Mailbag, readers inquire about concerns with the Colts’ run defense through the first two weeks of the season, the team taking a slower approach on offense, why Indy would cut draft picks, when a quarterback is allowed to clap and much more.


INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, 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:

Paul M. (Pittston, Penn.): "After watching the first 2 games, do you have any concerns about the run D. I was getting flashbacks from the Tony Dungy's run D. Big gaps, and missed tackles. Thoughts?"

Walker: Hey Paul, no real concerns about the run defense here. I think that opener against the Los Angeles Chargers — in which Indy allowed a 6.0-yards-per-carry average, and 125 rushing yards in all — was more of an anomaly than anything else, and last Sunday's performance against the Tennessee Titans, in my mind, helped prove this a bit. The Titans averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the day, which still isn't ideal, but the huge chunk plays in the run game the Colts allowed in Week 1 — the Chargers had runs of 24, 23 and 19 yards — just weren't really there. Indy's tackling should get better and better each and every week here early, and I think there are two big factors coming down the pike that should help tremendously: one is the eventual return of starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who is one of the best run defenders in the league up front; and then I think Darius Leonard will get back to playing All-Pro-level ball here sooner rather than later, which will rise everybody else up within the unit.


Wayne P. (Hartford, Conn.): "Hi - my question this week is who are the 15 people in the Colts Ring of Honor ? I think it will jump up to 17 this year with Reggie Wayne & Edge going in if their not in it already. Thank You"

Walker: Wayne, Dwight Freeney will become the 16th honoree to be inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor during the team's Nov. 10 game against the Miami Dolphins (you can still get tickets to that game, by the way, by clicking here). Freeney will be joining: Owner Robert Irsay (1996), WR-Bill Brooks (1998), Head Coach Ted Marchibroda (2000), OL-Chris Hinton (2001), QB-Jim Harbaugh (2005), "Colts Nation" (2007), Head Coach Tony Dungy (2010), WR-Marvin Harrison (2011), RB-Edgerrin James (2012), RB-Eric Dickerson and RB-Marshall Faulk (2013), C-Jeff Saturday (2015), General Manager Bill Polian (2016), QB-Peyton Manning (2017) and WR-Reggie Wayne (2018)


Pam. T. (Greenwood, Ind.): "Why does Andrew Luck appear on the first screen off the Colts app that is on my phone. Please change to Jacoby!"

Walker: Please update your Colts App, and you should have a new load screen. Thanks, Pam.


Barbara C. (Crawfordsville, Ind.): "I didn't hear much about Gerri Green and Jackson Barton It seems in my mind wasteful to cut this year's draft selections before trying to develop these players Also , what are your thoughts on E.J. Speed and Marvell Tell lll ? I see natural, raw talent in both guys Thank you for your time I love the mailbag☺ Go Colts🏈"

Walker: Barbara, cutting draft picks before their rookie years even begin might not seem ideal at first glance, but think of it this way: this is a clear indicator of how deep and talented this Colts roster really is becoming. The Colts in 2018 selected 11 players in the NFL Draft, and this year selected 10 players. If you keep every single one of those 21 draft picks, that's almost 40 percent of your 53-man roster. But when you win 10 games and advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, and then return a combined 19 or 20 of the starters from that team the following year — as well as a few key backups — and you sign a few outside free agents, roster spots are simply at a premium. Not every draft pick is likely going to make the cut. And it's not like the development of Jackson Barton and Gerri Green wasn't considered by the team moving forward; Barton was signed to the Colts' practice squad the day after final cuts, and Green decided to sign to the New England Patriots' practice squad. General manager Chris Ballard always says he wants as many shots at the draft dart board as possible, but taking that approach means some of the team's draft picks selected to compete at positions of strength aren't always going to make the cut. That's why, especially in the later rounds, you draft based off your board, and not based off position — sometimes you can find some gems that can come in and win a roster spot, and other times the veterans ahead of them are able to hold those draft picks off.


James H. (Phoenix): "Do you have pdf's of your old media guides and/or gamebooks? If so, would it be possible to obtain copies of these? I have been working on tabulating as complete a record of all individual player defensive statistics as possible and this would be of great help to me.Your assistance in this project would be greatly appreciated. Thank you."

Walker: James, you're in luck. Click here for every single Colts team media guide from 1947-50 and from 1953-2019.


James C. (Apopka, Fla.): "What happened to the mailbag? Last one I can see is May 5th."

Walker: We brought back the Colts Mailbag last week after a few months away. It should be a weekly staple from here on out.


Susan Y. (Parsons, Tenn.): "No question, just a comment.  Never been a big fan of athletes, but Matthew Adams has changed my negativity. I was sent an email with an article about Matthew and his Pom Pinky.  What a good guy he must be! Besides being a good athlete, he takes good care of his fur-baby. You hear so many stories of pro-athletes who let their money and status go to their heads and commit crimes, etc., because they think they can simply get away with them. Matthew is a real guy whose living his life with integrity-listening to the beat of his own drum. Pinky is lucky to have such a good home-her original owner sensed that, too. Matthew is lucky to have Pinky-to know what a true friend really means. They both seem to have an unconditional love for one another. Isn't that the purpose of life--love??  May the Great Spirit of all bless them both and grant them the best! THX"

Walker: Very glad to hear you enjoyed that Matthew Adams feature from Heather Lloyd. And for those wanting to read it for themselves, click here.


Andrew F. (Greeneville, Tenn.): "Hi Andrew, I have two questions for this week. On offense, will the Colts look to involve the tight ends more? On defense, will the defensive linemen be stunting more this year? Thanks!"

Walker: Andrew (great name, by the way), I'll be quick: I don't have any doubts the tight ends will be involved more offensively. We're just two games into the season; lots of opportunities for Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox and Hale Hentges to get involved (also, don't discount their contributions in the run game). And defensively, I'd expect to see a little bit more stunting and blitzing as the year goes on, but defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus tends to keep things pretty simple up front. As he gets a better feel for what this year's unit can do, though, I think, like last year, you'll see more and more blitz looks.


Jaret M. (Terre Haute, Ind.): "How much has the pace of play slowed down for the offense this year compared to last year? It seems as if the offense is moving at a snail's pace and not using the "no huddle" offense. Is there any truth to that or am I imagining things?"

Walker: For pace stats, I tend to look at what offers; that site indicates the Colts run a new play, on average, every 29.71 seconds, which is the 22nd-fastest mark in the NFL. That's quite a difference from last year, when the Colts had the fastest-moving offense in the league, running a play, on average, every 26.30 seconds. So you're not too far off in your evaluation. I'd add two things after seeing this: one, the Colts' emphasis on the run game, one would imagine, plays a huge role in slowing things down pace-wise; and, two, let's check in on this at the halfway mark and see if Frank Reich has made any adjustments to speed it up a little bit.


Leonardo B. (Rio de Janerio, Brazil): "Hi, Mr. Walker. Everyday I read all articles I can found in the Colts app, and recently I've been missing one of my favorites: snaps count after every game. This article is over or will return? Regards."

Walker: Very rewarding to hear you're consuming everything we're putting out there, Leonardo. Every offseason there are a variety of factors that help us evaluate which article series we'll continue the following season, as well as those that won't make the cut. While we decided not to continue the weekly "Snap Counts" article series, I have been tweeting the offensive/defensive/special teams snap counts the morning after every game @AWalkerColts, if that helps.


Charlie S. (Miller, Mo.): "Hey Andrew. Is anyone in the organization talking about the fact that Brissett does not throw an easily catchable ball?

I was all set to write about this last week, then I thought I'd wait until the Tennessee game. Then, he threw two really nice "touch passes" to Campbell and Hilton for TDs and the Ebron shuttle was really nice. But still, there is a LOT of work to be done with his "touch."

In the Chargers game, he threw a short pass to Doyle so hard that it hit Doyle in the face and landed in the parking lot! There was a similar short pass in the Titans game, also. Seems like our receivers are focusing so hard on just catching the ball, there's not much left in the tank after the catch. Brissett almost always throws a nice, tight spiral - but most of the throws are so hard - they seem to not be "receiver friendly" balls, if you know what I mean.

Remember a guy named, Manning? I've seen him throw so many "wobblers" - but his balls were almost always "catchable" - "soft" maybe. I'm almost 60 years old, but I can tell you this, if I was standing 5-8 yards from Doyle, or Ebron, etc., I could throw it so hard at them they wouldn't catch every pass; just think about a ball thrown from Brissett's cannon at that distance. Hopefully, it will come - soon - with experience - but he really needs to work on "touch." Maybe he thinks the harder he throws it, the less chance for an INT, but I see this as a big problem with Brissett's game. What do you think? (Chicago Bears Bobby Douglas is way too early for you to remember - but there are similarities between Douglas and Brissett.)"

Walker: I admire your passion, Charlie. And I think this is definitely one area of Brissett's game he's working hard at improving. I mean, you even mentioned the fact that he had a few nice touch passes last Sunday against the Titans, so clearly he has the ability to take a little off when needed. In fact, here's what Frank Reich had to say about Brissett's arm talent a couple weeks back: "Yes, I would say Jacoby has way above average arm talent. On top of that, I just feel like he has just continued to develop as the complete passer – making touch throws, moving in the pocket. He can make off-schedule throws. He can extend plays and still keep his eyes down the field. I'm just really happy with how he is throwing the football right now." So, like many other topics discussed this week, let's give this one some time to develop and see where it stands by, say, midseason?


Tyrone L. (Felton, Del.): "Big fan born and raised in Indy until military and retired in Delaware. My question is why did Jacoby Brissett get a false start against Tennessee Titans while slapping his hands to get ball snapped and Carson Wentz did it against Atlanta falcons blatantly did the same and no call? These refs are batting 1,000 with inconsistency. "

Walker: Frank Reich was wondering the same thing, and the answer he got from Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, this week was that there was a "little misunderstanding" last Sunday against the Titans, and that Jacoby Brissett is indeed supposed to be able to quickly clap to indicate to his center that the play clock is winding down and to snap him the ball. "There are really two kinds of claps," Reich said. "There is the one that everybody sees on TV when the quarterback is going like this (quick clapping) real fast and basically saying, 'Hey, give me the ball. The play clock is running down.' As long as the ball comes during or right after the last clap, we are good. Then there is the old college clap, which is a single clap, pause, single clap. That, you can't do, which we have never done. So just a little misunderstanding."


Humberto L. (Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico): "Hola es mi primera vez que hago una pregunta mi pregunta es se que es un poco temprano para ya pensar en el draft pero ballard iría por un un mariscal de campo"

Walker: Humberto, it's been a minute since I took my last Spanish class, so I'm not ashamed to say I put your question into the translate function on Google. You're asking, "Hello, this is the first time I've asked a question; it's a bit early to think about the draft, but would Chris Ballard go for a quarterback?" Here's my answer: I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Colts' scouts currently on the road checking out college games and visiting programs are keeping an eye on the quarterback position, as they are all positions. As we've learned, you have to be prepared for any scenario that might pop up, and knowing how dedicated the Colts are to their draft board, if the team goes on the clock next year and there's a quarterback at the top of their board and it makes sense roster-wise, then why not take the guy? At the very least you're adding competition to the group and getting a few months to see what the player is made of during camp and the preseason, and then you decide from there whether to keep him on your 53-man roster, try to get him on your practice squad or ultimately move on for the time being.


@ColtsLaw on Twitter: "I understand Speed is behind Leonard in the depth chart, But Okereke is said to be the most like Leonard. And being Reich and Eberflus has explained all these linebackers can play all the positions, do you think Okereke will play the Will position Sunday?_"

Walker: With Darius Leonard officially being ruled out for Sunday's game against the Falcons, I can only go off of what I've seen during training camp practices and preseason games to give an educated (at best) guess as to what the Colts might do at linebacker for this contest. I would think based off those observations that Bobby Okereke will mostly play his more natural position of MIKE linebacker, and Anthony Walker will slide over from MIKE to WILL. That being said, Matt Eberflus could've put together a completely different plan for this game in practice this week, so I'm interested to see how it shakes out when the Falcons' offense takes the field for the first time on Sunday.


@ChrisCodesinTX on Twitter: "Any chance the Colts will open up their passing game, or is this the blueprint for the season? Seems more the model the Cowboys used with Dak his first couple seasons."

Walker: The Colts head into Sunday's game against the Falcons ranked 29th in the NFL with 5.35 yards per passing play. Yet, I seem to remember this time last year fans bringing up this very same issue, and eventually the passing game down the field opened up. I think there will be a concerted effort to do the same this season. Let's check in at the midpoint of the season and see where the Colts are in this area and evaluate from there.


@ManofSteele222 on Twitter: "What's more likely? Brissett becomes a reliable, formidable passer, or the running game continues to dominate?"

Walker: Two things, ManOfSteele222: Jacoby Brissett might not have the huge yardage totals through two weeks of the season some fans might want, but to say he's not a "reliable, formidible passer" is pretty harsh. I mean, the guy leads the entire NFL in red zone passing, with five touchdowns within the opponents' 20-yard line. No other quarterback has more than three. Brissett's getting the job done when it matters the most, so who really cares whether he has 400 or 150 passing yards? As for the running game, I think it's wise to just keep expecting the Colts to stick to this same general plan moving forward. Frank Reich wants a top-five (or, at worst, top-seven) rushing attack this season, and the Colts currently rank third in the NFL in rushing. So my logic tells me to expect a lot more out of Marlon Mack & Co.


Mark C. (Neerpelt, Belgium): "When do the Colt's plan to go back on the road to come back to London? Was great to have you here in Europe. From a Colt's fan for life and Hoosier living in Belgium"

Walker: Mark, it's awesome to hear from you, and thanks so much for your fandom all the way in Belgium. I'm sure you're turning all kinds of Belgians into Horseshoe supporters — the more the merrier. First off, while the game itself didn't produce the result everyone wanted, the Colts' trip to London back in 2016 was a terrific experience overall, and a great opportunity for the team to reach its growing fanbase across the pond. To (sort of) answer your question: the NFL tends to announce the home teams for the upcoming season's international games in early December, so I'd probably wait until then for any possible developments.


Matthew R. (Beckley, W. Va.): "Does the team focus on areas they aren't as strong in after a game they struggled in said areas, or does things stay relatively the same as you practice throughout the week? Thank you, Sincerely a DIE HARD COLTS FAN #FORTHESHOE "

Walker: The regular season naturally provides the Colts a very regimented schedule. Each day of the week has a different focus. Sundays, of course, are gameday. Mondays are typically the players' day off, and gives the coaches a chance to pour over the film from the previous day's game. Tuesday is largely a meetings/corrections day, when the team goes over what went right and wrong from the game two days prior, and then turns the focus to the upcoming opponent. Wednesday through Friday are the official practice days, and then Saturday morning is an opportunity to add some final touches heading into Sunday. So, generally, the Colts don't dwell on the good or the bad from each game too long, because there's too much work to be done to shift the focus to the next opponent.


Dixie C. (Fishers, Ind.): "When a team wins the coin toss, why, would they defer receiving the ball. It seems it's a lot more likely to score when you have the ball."

Walker: I offer you this, Dixie: what possession is more important? The one that starts the game? Or the one that starts the second half? There are a ton of metrics that go into these decisions, especially for the Colts. If you ask me — and you did — I think the value in deferring and receiving the second half kickoff is you give yourself the chance to score on two straight possessions (if it plays out that way) — once at the end of the first half, and once to begin the second half. You can't guarantee yourself that opportunity at any other point of the ballgame. So that's my take on it, at least.

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