Again, i’d like to thank you all for your submissions for the mailbag this week. After starting somewhat slowly, you all have come through in a big way and given me enough questions to put up two editions this weekend.
I will put another mailbag article up tomorrow addressing the remainder of the questions and comments. Just to reiterate, the questions have been great and a lot of fun to dive into, please continue to send them in for each week’s edition to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will continue to pump them out.
So, let’s get to it.
Is Good good enough to start at tackle?
Leroystayclean, I like the straight forward question so I’ll repay the favor with a brief answer. No. Though I still believe that Denzelle Good is a better tackle than he is a guard, I still would have a hard time saying he could start at either position.
He’s struggled in protection drills through camp and I think a large part of that is due to the increase in talent along the defensive line. On the other hand, that will help him out going forward. Going against better talent in practices will help regardless if he’s having some trouble.
Fourth and Schlong
How do you see special teams shaking out? Obviously our kicker is set in stone but is Locke a lock to be our punter or is Rigoberto giving him a run for his money? Who are the leading candidates to field punts and kicks? Was that article about Luke Rhodes as long snapper to add ILB depth realistic? Thanks for answering Matt and great work out there giving us the play by play at camp.
Schlong, you’re right, this isn’t something that is asked often. In fact, this isn’t discussed much at all. Sanchez has been also kicking field goals – at least Tuesday and Thursday he was – and during one stretch of attempts was 3 of 3 from 50-plus yards Thursday. As of Thursday, we hadn’t seen much at all from the special teams guys actually punting, they had been using the machines to spin the balls deep for the returners.
I will say this, Sanchez has a nice leg. He absolutely isn’t going to take the job from Adam Vinatieri and I’ve only seen a handful of his punts, as well as Locke’s. I would say that the punting job is definitely Locke’s to lose though at this point.
As far as the returners, Quan Bray appears to be the frontrunner right now, and Josh Ferguson has been the No 2 option back there with Robert Turbin being another option. I think Bray actually offers some very interesting influence on the 53-man roster if he can continue to grow as a receiver.
For him to be the top return guy, and be in a legit battle for the No 5 receiver spot on the depth chart could leave someone like Kamar Aiken on the outside looking in if the Colts only decided to keep 5 at the position.
I think every bit of versatility will make an impact in determining who lands on the initial 53. Rhodes is a guy who the coaches really like from everything I’ve gathered, and even if long snapping seems like a reach initially, his special teams acumen is something that will be factored in as well.
Rhodes is one of those guys who would dig through the dirt to find the mud. Teams need those guys and while I wouldn’t say it is likely, it is certainly a realistic possibility. Thanks for the questions, I appreciate the kind words as well!
Does the new offensive line assignments appear to be helping? If Mack is looking fast, I hope that means it is because there are holes to hit. Much of the praise is being directed at the D-line, does that bode poorly for our O-line? We have been getting a lot of "glowing" reports during training camp.
Could you tell us who has stunk up the joint? I mean I know you don’t want to burn any bridges for possible future endeavors, but everyone can’t be killing it at practice?
Clydesdales, to be quite honest I am just a fan of the makeup of the line right now in general. I think they’ll have to get used to each other like they had to when Jack Mewhort was at LG and Joe Haeg at RG. I think it will help in the future, though I can’t say that I feel I’ve seen enough to say that it’s helping right now. On the same token, it certainly hasn’t hurt anything either.
The line has done a good job creating lanes for him and the other running backs, but Mack is a guy who can create his own. Something the Colts have sorely missed in recent years. I don’t think that the offensive line has been the butt of any jokes this year, they’re working hard.
I truly believe that there are a couple factors at play here regarding the excitement about the defensive line. Most of us haven’t seen a front like the Colts currently have. They are big, physical and surprisingly quick. Whether or not we’re hoisting up the defensive line a bit more than they should be, what we’re seeing is real and compared to what we’ve had to look at in the past, it’s bound to get even the most objective reporter excited about the possibilities.
In response to the glowing reports – it’s different huh!? I understand what you mean because it may appear that everyone is just so excited about getting back to football that they are using their hopes and combining them with what they’re seeing, but inflating camp situations. I’m sure that there is a handful of the latter happening occasionally, but this is just a different group like I’ve said before.
The biggest issue that I can relay is that there are a large handful of players who simply aren’t getting noticed at all. T.J. Green, Henry Anderson, Sean Spence, Jabaal Sheard, John Simon and a host of others haven’t been getting much pub at all largely because they’ve just been good, with no dynamic or disastrous plays just the same. This makes it hard to really give a solid evaluation in terms of bad or good, but it keeps you from saying anything bad
If there was truly a player, or group of players that have ‘stunk up the joint’, I would have to drop that on the quarterbacks. They’ve been really inconsistent and some throws/decisions have been just downright disgusting. These situations are making it hard to evaluate the receivers and the defense as well. I have to say it’s been a pretty even keeled throughout, otherwise – with those who are standing out – to those in attendance some of these guys are making themselves noticed for without question.
I haven't seen much in the main page articles or tweets in regards to Simon and Sheard... How are they doing? OLB was arguably our biggest need coming into the offseason. Is it still our biggest need?
Simon and Sheard, for me at least, have fallen in that group where they are being solid and getting the job done, yet aren’t necessarily standing out as game changers at this point. They are both capable of being 8-10 sack ceiling guys and are very good against the run, but seeing run defense in practice is simply hard to classify as a sexy play when relaying it within a tweet or an article.
I think their pass rush abilities will become more apparent as practice continues and wouldn’t at all be surprised to see some impressions in the near future. I definitely don’t see it as our biggest need at this juncture. A lot of the Colts pass rush could very well come from the interior this season, and Sheard and Simon’s ability to be those stout run stoppers is equally helpful so long as the pass rush is coming from somewhere.
This may also be one of those instances where you could say that the offensive line has done really well protecting against the outside pass rush. They’ve both been able to get into the backfield and disrupt, they also aren’t killing any of the quarterbacks being that a quarterback – backup or otherwise – is no good to a team’s practice without a head on his shoulders. It could be as simple as that they are holding up before we notice a great play is eminent in the live portions of practice.
Hey Matt, what do you think is the floor and ceiling for the Colts this season? I think that we are almost certainly going to improve on our two previous 8-8 finishes, simply because there is a better squad with more depth. 10-6 or 11-5 seem reasonable. And how do you rate Luck's chances at making an MVP run? If his shoulder, and the offensive line holds up then I think he definitely has the talent to make such a run.
Without going through every single situation that may impact the season’s outcome (I’m sure you have run through all of these already), I’ll keep it pretty basic. You’ve touched on his health, and I’d even say the overall health of the team is paramount to the Colts getting to a 9 or 10 win season. For me that is about as high as I can take them right now.
Of course that can change depending on what we see from the first few regular season games, but I think 10 wins can take the division and that would be an excellent turnaround from such a massive turnover on the roster. On the other hand their floor for me is sitting about 6 wins. When it rains it pours and regardless of the circumstances, if things begin to decline it could get ugly.
I actually agree with you about Luck and him being a possible MVP candidate this season. It goes without saying that his shoulder would have to be in tip top shape come Week 3 at the latest, but a second year with Brian Schottenheimer has me very hopeful for what he can accomplish. I actually think that the surgery could work to his benefit forcing him to be more fundamental right out of the gates.
Which current UDFAs will be on the active roster for the week one game?
Honestly Stephen, aside from Thomas Hennessy I don’t think there will be one unless it’s someone who isn’t currently on the roster. Most of the areas where I’d typically think one could sneak through are too deep. There are some really talented guys on the back end of this roster with zero NFL experience, but I just don’t know if they can beat out any of those ahead of them.
If I had to make one guess, and it would highly depend upon how many the Colts decided to keep at the position, but it would have to be Dante Blackmon or Tyson Graham Jr.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition addressing the remainder of the submissions.