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:
Jake H. (Hinesville, Ga.): "Good morning sir, Thanks for all you do for us Colts fans. Just one question. What do you think about Leonard's forced fumble at the end of the game not being reviewed? I know that that there must be a clear and obvious recovery, but it looked like Leonard had the ball. Maybe I'm just seeing it how I want to see it, but I'm just curious what you think."
Walker: Hey Jake, thanks for writing in! While it's important to just move on if you're the Colts, I think it's OK for us to have one final discussion about this odd ending to the Texans game in this forum. Being at the game, I'll say, I was a little flabbergasted that there was never any announcement that the play was being reviewed (it happened with less than two minutes to go, so all replays are initiated by the assistant in the booth). It was also at least the third time in the ballgame there was a questionable outcome to a play that ended up favoring the Texans that wasn't immediately replayed on the stadium video boards, but that's a different issue altogether. Sitting in the press box, I can't hear the TV feed, either, so I was just kind of in a state of shock wondering why something that seemed so clear and obvious — the fumble, of course, but then finding out who actually recovered it — wasn't being addressed in such a critical moment of the ballgame. The NFL Officiating Twitter account wrote after the game that, "officials on the field ruled a fumble recovered by the offense. There was no clear visual evidence of a recovery by the defense," but does that mean that they just used what the officials saw live on the field as their "clear visual evidence?" Or was there a review done elsewhere that wasn't announced that made them come to this conclusion? Either way, considering the situation and when it happened in the game, the ideal scenario would result in the officials announcing that they're taking a look and explaining what they saw just to add complete clarity. In my opinion, while Darius Leonard knocked the ball out of Deshaun Watson's hands and at one point seemed to have had a grasp on it on the ground, I'm not so sure a review would've indicated a "clear and obvious" recovery by the defense — but it would've been nice to hear that coming from the officials there at the game after a thorough, obvious review. OK. One more reference to this sequence to get it out of our system, and then time to move on to the Titans.
David H. (Bluffton, Ohio): "Appreciate your insights in the mailbag, Andrew. This is my first time writing because I need an explanation on why the play clock wasn't promptly started after Watson fumbled the ball. I'm annoyed like everyone else that the play wasn't reviewed as there was enough evidence to warrant a closer look in New York (the Maniac had that!), but I haven't heard any explanation on why the clock was allowed to go from 1:44 to 0:48. That's 56 seconds! Shouldn't that be much closer to 40 seconds?!?! The Colts weren't passing the ball great, so those lost 16 seconds probably weren't enough to change the outcome of the game, but you still want the chance for a long field goal or a hail Mary!"
Walker: Yeah, this is a whole other issue in terms of why there wasn't an announced review inside of two minutes of this aforementioned play. In watching a replay of the broadcast, I hear a first whistle at 1:43 when Deshaun Watson fumbles and the scrum for the ball begins; the game clock continues to roll throughout all of this, despite the fact the officials are continuing to blow their whistles, and then the Texans take a timeout with 50 seconds left. So, yes, almost an entire minute was allowed to be drained off the game clock during this sequence, and I think the fact there was no booth review — or at least no announced booth review — plays a big factor in this. A booth review should have stopped the clock, one, but also should've allowed the officials to determine what time the game clock should be reset to when play resumes. But because that didn't happen, the clock operator can only go by what he or she sees from the officials on the field, so it keeps rolling. I think this entire sequence is well worth reviewing by the league, if for no other reason as a valuable training exercise.
Jeff N. (Indianapolis): "What color uniforms are we wearing Sunday against the titans?"
Walker: It's a white out! Colts will be wearing their white jerseys and pants in front of the home crowd, which is being encouraged to don their best white Colts attire, as well. We learned late this week that the Titans will be wearing their all-Navy look, so it's essentially a repeat of last Thursday night's game in Houston, where the Texans where in all-navy and the Colts were in all-white.
Michael W. (Velpen, Ind.): "What do we need to do to make the playoffs or can we still win the AFC south?"
Walker: At this point, winning the AFC South is the Colts' best hope at making the playoffs. Due to various tiebreaker scenarios, Indy's losses to the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers — two other AFC playoff contenders— as well as their losses to two other AFC teams, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Miami Dolphins, means the Colts will need a lot of outside help down the stretch to be in position to earn a Wild Card berth. And even if the Colts can beat the Titans on Sunday and the Houston Texans fall to the New England Patriots — creating another a tie between Indy and Houston atop the AFC South at 7-5 — the Colts would likely need some additional help from Houston, due to the fact the Texans would still own the tiebreaker by beating both the Chargers and the Raiders earlier in the year. Other factors remain in play, and it can get quite confusing, so I'll just say this: the Colts simply need to just worry about winning one game at a time to finish out the regular season and not gettting too caught up in what other teams are doing. One playoff predictor website indicates the Colts have a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win all five of their final games, and an 80 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win four of their final five games and finish at 10-6. But if they win just three games and finish 9-7, their playoff chances decrease to 28 percent. Frank Reich's "1-0" motto remains extremely relevant.
Thomas H. (Indianapolis): "Is it possible with the brace on jacobys leg he wasn't to sure of himself to be more aggressive passing the ball against Houston ? He didn't seem to comfortable at times "
Walker: That doesn't appear to be the case, Thomas. Frank Reich has indicated that while the knee injury and the brace might be limiting Jacoby Brissett a bit from a running/mobility standpoint, there's no indication that it is affecting his ability to throw the ball. "He's been throwing the ball well," Reich said after the Texans game. "Obviously we didn't practice this week. But I thought he threw it well last week in practice. Even when he didn't play that (Dolphins) week and the reps that he got he was throwing the ball well."
Dashon M. (Newark, N.J.): "Will Devin funchess be ready this Sunday."
Walker: Devin Funchess will not be suiting up tomorrow against the Titans; Frank Reich had indicated earlier in the week that would be the case. The Colts are still waiting for Funchess' surgically-repaired clavicle to be 100 percent healed, but they don't have a lot of time left to decide whether to bring him back to the active roster or revert him to injured reserve for the rest of the season. Funchess was officially designated as a return-from-IR candidate and returned to the practice field on Nov. 13, setting in motion a three-week deadline for the team to make that decision; that deadline is officially this Wednesday, Dec. 4. So stay tuned.
Cameron H. (Indianapolis): "Hey Andrew, hope you have a great thanksgiving for starters, second let's address the elephant in the room. The colts need legit threats at WR, the vertical game is non existent without TY. Could you see the Colts drafting a receiver like Chase Claypool from Notre Dame? It might be a stretch but he's a vertical threat and a big body who seems to be more durable."
Walker: I think that adding offensive weapons to the roster could very well be a priority for the Colts heading into the offseason. The injuries at wide receiver, tight and and running back haven't helped matters at all — can you imagine what it would've looked like with a full season with T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Eric Ebron and Marlon Mack? — but the Colts obviously aren't the only team to be hit by the injury bug this season, so you won't see them using that as an excuse. When it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft, however, I'll stop you right there. I don't ever profess or claim to be a draft expert, and I don't really ramp up my research on available prospects until after the Colts' season is over, so I don't want to sit here and act like I have any sort of answers on which players might be ideal fits in Indy. But I do think it's fair to say the Colts' attention to their defense the last couple drafts has been very beneficial, and obviously more work will be done to that side of the ball, but that I wouldn't be surprised at all if the offensive side of the ball got its "turn" this offseason.
Jerome F. (Morganfield, Ky.): "Why do so many of our fans call themselves true fans when we lose and they criticize everyone from coach down. You either lose and win with the team or find another team. The job we have done today is good. We are still in good position for a playoff birth and have beaten teams where most gave us no chance. Anyone can be beat on any given Sunday. Not to mention some players have aches and pains no one even knows about but they still play. You guys are a good to soon to be great. I've been a fan since Eric Dickerson. Our run game, offensive line, defense, and quarter are good and most important I see that we have room for improvement something a lot of teams don't have."
Walker: Jerome, I love your optimism. I, too, think that the improved run game, the play of the offensive line, a young, deep, talented defense and the leadership and play of Jacoby Brissett are all terrific building blocks for long-term success in this league. But I also am a big proponent of just letting fans be fans, and with that comes the roller coaster of emotions. I mean, "fan" is short for "fanatic" for a reason, so I'd just suggest not letting the ups and the downs that others express affect how you enjoy following the Colts.
Nicholas K. (Lebanon, Ind.): "Why is T.Y. always injured? Need to pick up a reliable receiver like Claypool from Notre Dame. Our unreliability in the receiving department is ridiculous."
Walker: Always injured? T.Y. Hilton? Sunday's game will be the ninth missed game in Hilton's entire eight-year NFL career. In fact, this will be the only season over that span that he's not played at least 14 regular season games. Has he had some bad luck this year with a couple muscle injuries? Yes. But he's about as reliable as it comes in my book. How quickly we forget how a banged-up Hilton led the entire league in receiving yards the second half of last season, and kept playing through a high and low sprain to the same ankle over the final few weeks into the playoffs just to continue being a factor for his surging team. I just won't stand for Hilton hate around here.
Richard I. (Martinez, Calif.): "Andrew, Thanks for keeping the mailbag active and interesting. What are your thoughts on Jacoby Brissett as our QB moving forward and how do you think the Colts decision makers are feeling about him. I feel this year was an audition and I would have to say we got mixed results. He does some things very well and also has some pretty glaring weaknesses. I'm a bit nervous moving forward with him as the starting QB and feel he is probably a good backup but not someone who will take a team to the Super Bowl. With that said, I feel the toughest offseason decision for Ballard will be how does he handle the QB position moving forward. If there is a QB that Ballard likes available, will he use a 1st or 2nd round pick to grab him? "
Walker: Richard, you bring up some great points. The thing is, I don't think anything that Jacoby Brissett has conceivably "lacked" this season are aspects of his game that can't be improved with another full offseason of work. If he has a chance to take a step back and fully review his performance from the 2019 season — what went right, and what needs to improve — I think he can continue to ascend as the Colts' starting quarterback heading into 2020. The biggest gripe I hear from fans and outside analysts about Brissett is that he might be too careful with the ball; that he isn't quite as willing as others to take deep shots down the field. But a lot of factors go into that, and I think it's abundantly clear that Brissett has the arm talent and the smarts to improve in this area next year. Frank Reich said on multiple occasions, even before the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck, that he believed Brissett was a top-20 quarterback in the NFL; his 95.7 passer rating currently ranks 14th in the league, and is ninth among QBs with at least 10 starts this season. So Reich and the team were spot-on in that regard; now it's time to see how Brissett finishes out this season and how he is able to take what he's learned and apply it going into next season.
Frank S. (Leesburg, Fla.): "Can u tell me who were the duos that ran for 100 yards each before Mack and Williams. I', m guessing Moore/Ameche, Dickey/McMillan but I can't think of the others. After seeing the Colts lose to the Texans its become apparent Ballard needs to spend some money and draft WRs, pass rushers and QB. Brissett is only a very good backup. What do u think? Thanks"
Walker: Frank, I've made my thoughts about the need for offensive weapons, as well as Jacoby Brissett, pretty clear above, so I won't jump back into that. But as for your first question, Jonathan Williams and Marlon Mack became the fourth pair of running backs in team history to top 100 rushing yards in the same game:
» 11/11/56: Lenny Moore (120) and Alan Ameche (108)
» 9/30/73: Lydell Mitchell (133) and Don McCauley (109)
» 10/6/85: Randy McMillan (112) and Albert Bentley (100)
» 11/17/19: Jonathan Williams (116) and Marlon Mack (109)