Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Frank Reich's Fourth Down Decision, Mike Strachan's Status

The Colts host the New York Jets in primetime on Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium to kick off Week 9. Check out what questions fans had ahead of the game in this week's Colts Mailbag. 

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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, or by taking part in the Colts.com Forums. You can also send your questions to @JJStankevitz on Twitter.

Let's get after this week's questions:

Casey Ashby, Petersburg, Ind.: When does the coaching get questioned – up two touchdowns and go for it on fourth with the best punter on the league?

JJ Stankevitz: Alright so here's the situation Casey is asking about – with the Colts holding a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Titans, Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth and three at the Titans' 40-yard line.

Carson Wentz and Michael Pittman Jr. couldn't link up and the Colts turned the ball over on downs. The Titans followed with an 11-play, 60-yard drive ending with a Ryan Tannehill touchdown pass.

Analytically, Reich made the right decision:

Maybe Rigoberto Sanchez – who, as you said, is one of the best punters in the NFL – could've backed the Titans' offense up to their own goal line. But with a 14-0 lead and a chance to make it a three-score game before the Titans even got to the end of their game script, Reich went with an aggressive and well-reasoned decision.

Let's not forget the Colts converted two fourth downs on their game-opening touchdown drive, too.

Reich said if he could change anything here it would've been his playcall on third down – a passing play on which Wentz took a shot to T.Y. Hilton in the end zone that fell incomplete.

"What I told our staff was on third down, I probably might have called a run knowing I was going to go for it on fourth down," Reich said. "There was a pass that I really liked that I thought would hit and it didn't. Generally speaking, I feel confident in the play calls. There's always calls that I want back and we spent a lot of time talking through all those scenarios. I'm going to be aggressive most of the time in those scenarios."

Scott Matthias, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: First great effort by both the offense and defense last week. Shame, one more break and I think Colts get the victory.

My question does the NFL keep kicking stats by team? When was the last time the Colts got a break with a missed field goal for a victory? Seems like they always go straight thru the uprights.

JJ Stankevitz: Interesting question – this after Randy Bullock hit a 44-yard field goal to end the Titans' 34-31 win over the Colts in overtime on Sunday.

Using Sports-Reference's Stathead database, I found 16 instances since 1994 of a Colts opponent kicking a field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Seven of those 16 field goals were no good – four of those misses resulted in the Colts winning and three sent games into overtime.

And there've been 12 field goals attempted against the Colts in overtime since 1994, with opposing kickers making 11 of those tries – although not all of those kicks were game-winners.

Hope this answers your question!

Wayne Williams, Marlborough, Mass.: With all of the injuries, I know a lot of people are talking about trades for aging veterans, but I'm wondering about what happened with Michael Strachan, and do you think we will see him on the field in the near future, particularly if T.Y. Hilton is out for any extended period of time. It seems as though he showed a lot of upside in the pre-season, and then I have not heard much about him since.

JJ Stankevitz: Strachan played 52 offensive snaps in the Colts' first two games but has only seen seven offensive snaps since. Reich was asked about Strachan in relation to Parris Campbell's injury back in October and explained the 2021 seventh round pick's status:

"Just really a roster issue and trying to get everybody up for special teams," Reich said. "Mike right now, hasn't – he's not contributing a lot to special teams. That's kind of a factor. As you know, we weigh that special teams' contribution. When you're the fourth or fifth receiver, at some level we're going to need and want you to contribute to special teams. Those are all big factors."

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