Week 14 Mailbag


Hello, Colts fans. I was pretty happy after Monday’s big win over the Jets. Forgetting the team has fatal flaws that will ultimately doom it, Tuesday was the first time all season I truly felt like the boys had turned the corner and seized control of their season. True to form, the feeling didn’t last long, as the news of D’Qwell Jackson’s 4 game suspension for PED use hit. This is where we are now with this team. Remember the win over Denver last season? It was a great feeling – until about 5 hours later when everyone was scurrying to Google “lacerated kidney.” This organization just refuses to prosper. So frustrating.

Let’s see what’s on your minds….

Q: Did the Colts finally get their mojo back or are they getting our hopes after Monday’s win? – Jodi via Facebook

Q: Have the Colts really turned a corner or is this the same old inconsistent team? – Josh via Twitter

If I’d answered this at say, noon on Tuesday, I would’ve said yes. Now I’m not so certain. As you might expect, I’ve received a few questions about “that one linebacker,” so I can’t spill all of my opinions right off the bat, but losing him puts a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for the time being. As I said, we’re just not allowed any prosperity.

On the plus side, Andrew looked about as good as he ever has. Forget the two easy TD passes to Allen; Andrew was dropping dimes all over the field. His play was very encouraging. What a difference a mostly clean pocket makes, huh?

Q: Why are the Colts afraid to play the Bengals? – Mike via Facebook

I’ve known Mike for a long time, and I’m not convinced he really cares about my answer to this question. He’s just being a smart…..guy, or something. In addition to doing the unthinkable by rooting for sports teams from Cincinnati, Mike is also an Ohio State fan. In fact, after the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, when OSU won the National Championship because of a phantom pass interference call against Miami OSU won it all, he was kind enough to send me an OSU hat, which I still have.

Mike, if the annual Colts – Bengals meeting in the last preseason game isn’t enough for you, you’ll be happy to know the Colts will be facing the AFC North next season, which means no ducking the crappy Bengals. If my memory is correct, the last time the teams met (2014) the Colts whipped the Bengals in Indy, which means next season’s game should be at Paul Brown.

Road trip?

Q: If Colts win out, especially going on road and beating the Vikings and Raiders, does it erase early season struggles? IMO, yes – Josh via Twitter

This is a good question – they’re all good questions – but the answer is tricky. I think it depends on your viewpoint of where the organization is at and where it’s headed. I’ve found opinions on this to range from “Super Bowl!” to “Andrew threw 3 TD’s and we won, but Grigson sucks,” and everything in between.

I’m not convinced the Colts can win out, but I’m not sure they need to, either. Beat Houston, split with Minnesota/Oakland, beat Jacksonville, and that should be enough. The key word is “should,” of course, because if there’s one consistent thing about the Colts, it’s inconsistency. I just don’t feel well enough about this team to confidently say one way or the other what might happen. Winning out would be nice, but I’m not sure it would erase the early season struggles because the flaws the team exhibited then are still going to be there: Limited pass rush. A linebacking core that really isn’t good at much of anything. An offensive line that struggles to keep its QB upright. Bizarre play calling. None of those things will magically go away even if the team makes the playoffs.

Q: Why did we not kick a field goal last night on 4th down near end of game? Instead we went for it. – Travis via Twitter

Until I saw this question, I’d forgotten about this sequence. If you were already asleep, here’s what happened: Just after the 2 minute warning, the Colts ran the ball on 4th and 12 from the Jets’ 20 rather than trying the easy field goal. Josh Ferguson gained 11 of the 12 needed yards, and the Jets took over on their own 9.

I have no issue with running it then. Chuck Pagano was just extending a little professional courtesy to his longtime friend Todd Bowles. At another time against another team, maybe you do take those easy points just to make a statement – somewhere, Bill Belichick is nodding – but not this time.

Q: Dorsett: is he used poorly or just a marginal talent? – J. Newton via Twitter

The very first thing I ever wrote for CA was a draft diary piece in 2015. One of the things I mentioned is I wanted the Colts to draft Landon Collins. Badly. It didn’t happen. Landon Collins was just voted NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. Phillip Dorsett had no catches and was targeted just once Monday night in a game where his QB was making throws all over the place. I don’t bring it up in order to say “See? I was right!” and certainly not for the “Grigson sucks!” crowd. It’s just too easy and lazy to say things like “Well, if they’d just drafted..” That’s not how it works. You change one thing, you change everything. It’s foolish to say something like “If the Lions had drafted Tom Brady they’d have 4 Super Bowls!” or whatever.

I’ll give Dorsett a bit of a pass for his rookie season. He got hurt early, Luck got hurt early, then Luck got hurt again, and the entire season was a wash for everyone. This season, there are no excuses. He’s been healthy, but has managed 24 catches. 24 catches in 46 targets. That’s a success rate of 52%. TY Hilton has converted on 60%, which is pretty amazing if you consider 1) He’s obviously the team’s best receiver, so he draws more attention 2) He’s been targeted nearly 3 times as much as Dorsett 3) He’s 2nd in the NFL with 6 drops (the team has a league worst 23), and 4) He’s been banged up quite a bit this season. I’m not making a comparison between the two to make Dorsett look bad. That’s unfair not only to Dorsett, but to most receivers in the league. I’m merely trying to spotlight where Dorsett is at right now.

I’m not sure why he hasn’t experienced the success we’ve hoped for. To be honest, I often forget he’s even out there. When I think of the guys who get the ball, I think Hilton, Moncrief, Allen, Doyle, Gore, even Turbin. Then they’ll throw the random pass to Dorsett and it’s “Oh yeah, Dorsett is out there.” This is a damning thing to say about a 1st round draft pick who is really in his first full season, but that’s where he’s at right now. I can’t begin to say what the issue is. Maybe he doesn’t study the playbook enough. Maybe they’ve found more favorable match ups in games. Maybe he doesn’t run good enough routes. I really can’t say. I’m not ready to give up on Dorsett, but he needs to start taking advantage of the chances he gets. He did not do so when Moncrief went down with an injury in Week 2. It’s time to make some plays, Phillip.

Q: Andrew Luck vs. a hurricane. Who wins? BTW, the name of the hurricane is Hurricane Luck. – Matt via Facebook

What the hell is this, Matt? I think I’ve actually been asked a question I can’t answer. This doesn’t mean I can’t BS my way through it, though.

People often look at rain or snow as detriments to QB’s, but I think most will say that wind is a much bigger problem. On the surface, this seems like a clear advantage for Hurricane Luck, but what if the winds are swirling? Andrew drops to throw…he throws it, it’s batted back at him, then suddenly the winds change course and the pass sails towards a suddenly open TY Hilton, who takes it to the house for the touchdown.

The more I think about it, the more I think Andrew could defeat the hurricane.

Unless the hurricane is good at rushing the passer, in which case I concede.

Q: Playoffs? Playoffs? What do you think? I’m thinking big! – Christy via Facebook

The door is wide open for this. The problem is this team is so inconsistent I’m reluctant to have a lot of faith in them. As I mentioned earlier, a 3-1 finish to the season probably gets them there. It almost has to be nothing less than that. A 2-2 finish may work, but only if Tennessee loses to Denver this week, then beats Houston in Week 17. At some point you have to stop depending on other teams to do the job and take control of your own destiny. This is exactly where the Colts are. It’s all there for them. Can they do it? We’ll see.

Q: In the long run, are the Colts better off going to the playoffs this year or getting better picks in next year’s draft? – Nick via Facebook

There’s really not an easy answer to this, and one’s idea of what should be the answer depends solely on their view of where the organization stands. Me personally, I’d rather see a playoff game than a losing season. If you go 8-8 or 9-7 and win your division, is it really worse than if you finish 7-9? The difference in draft slots is minimal. Why wouldn’t you want a playoff spot instead? If you look at teams who’ve had sustained success, they’re nearly always drafting towards the very bottom. It’s not where you draft, it’s WHO you draft. Am I going to feel more confident in Ryan Grigson if the Colts finish 7-9 instead of 9-7? Nope. And neither should you.

There’s a faction of Colts “fans” I see on social media who I’m convinced would complain even if the team went 19-0. These are people who say “Andrew threw 3 TD’s? Oh, but it was against the Jets” or who complain about every single solitary thing about the team. “I know Andrew just threw a 50-yard TD, but Good missed his block. Grigson signed Good. FIRE GRIGSON!” I mean, come on. We’re stuck with Grigson. We’re stuck with Pagano. I get it, you don’t like them. I don’t care much for them, either. Rooting for the team to do poorly thinking it will prompt a change? Sorry kids, that’s not going to happen, even if they lose the last four games.

Q: Did the o-line really play that much better, or do the Jets just suck that bad? – Mike via Twitter

Not to take the easy way out here, but my answer is both. If you look at the hard stats – that is, stats like yards allowed, PPG, and other common stats that the NFL uses to rate teams – the Jets and Colts are very similar defensively. The Jets are 15th in the NFL in yards allowed, while the Colts are 28th, and the difference is about 28 yards a game. The Jets give up 25.6 PPG, while the Colts are at 25.9. The biggest difference between the two is that the Jets are one of the best in the NFL against the run. They’re 4th, which is better than Pittsburgh, Carolina, Green Bay, New England, Seattle, and Denver (Denver? Really? This surprised me). Jets’ pass defense? Not so good. In terms of sacks, they’re actually worse than the Colts.

I expected the Jets to cause some problems for the Colts because of their front seven, but it never really happened. Credit the Colts line. The guys up front lined up and beat the guys in front of them consistently. Who can complain about this? Instead of looking for negatives or trying to excuse it away, let’s just credit the boys up front for a great performance. It’s funny how people are quick to complain – and I’ve been guilty too – about the slightest bad thing the line does, but yet are dismissive when they do a great job. They dominated. Let’s enjoy it.

Q: How about getting those Jersey State Police guys to teach our defensive backfield how to wrap on tackles – AJ via Twitter

In case you have no idea what he’s talking about, check the following:

Amazing. Even better, there’s a Kevin Harlan radio call of the event. What a time to be alive.

As for the question, nothing’s going to change with the tackling. Having Geathers back will help. Except…wait, Geathers may not be back. Ooof. As I said before, the team just does not want to prosper.

That one linebacker:

The rest of the mailbag will be devoted to that one linebacker who got suspended at the worst time possible.

Q: Is Jackson being suspended that big of a loss? I think Butler at safety and Geathers at ILB would be just fine – Nathaniel via Twitter

Q: How much does the loss of DQ hurt? – Josh via Twitter

I’ve been as critical of D’Qwell Jackson as anyone, but yes, this is a big loss for a team who is sorely thin at LB. It’s not so much because he’s the leading tackler. Edwin Jackson can tackle people, too (wow, what a hit he had Monday night). Where losing D’Qwell hurts is with the experience factor he brings. You don’t play LB in the NFL for 10 years without accumulating a solid knowledge base about what teams are trying to do.

Q: Who is your new ILB starter with Jackson now out? Is it actually possible for the LBs to play worse? – JR via Twitter

Get ready for a whole lot of Antonio Morrison and Josh McNary. I’m sorry, folks. I didn’t ask to be the bearer of bad news, so please don’t blame me. I would feel much better about the situation if Geathers was healthy. You could stick him in there with E. Jackson, put Butler at safety, and you’re in alright shape. But no, we can’t prosper. I’m not sure what the timetable is for Geathers’ neck injury. In fact, I had been blindly operating under the assumption he had recovered from his concussion well enough to return to practice this week. The neck thing caught me by surprise. I hope the injury isn’t serious – don’t forget that we’re not allowed to prosper, though – but I don’t think we’ll see him for at least another game. I hope that’s the extent of it.

In other areas of good news, Robert Mathis (injured bicep) hasn’t practiced this week, either, though he did say on his radio show that he expects to this week. Robert, you have one day left my man. Get to it. If Mathis can’t go, it’ll be up to Trent Cole and the likes of Curt Maggitt to step up.

Isn’t this fun???

Q: Love the COLTS but I just don’t understand the doping. They know they are going to get caught. Does he lose pay? – Troy via Twitter

To answer your actual question, yes, D’Qwell has to forfeit his salary for the duration of his suspension. He’ll be free to start earning money again on January 2, 2017.

As for the doping…I don’t like it, and wish guys wouldn’t do it, but I can hardly be judgmental about it. In a sport where you’re constantly being beat up, where most money isn’t guaranteed, where most careers don’t last, the temptation to use illegal substances has to be off the charts high. I can definitely see why many guys succumb to it. I wrote a piece after Art Jones got popped for using PED’s and used a quote from former MLB pitcher Dallas Braden in it. Braden was actually talking about someone in baseball who had gotten caught using, but his quote fits the NFL guys as well:

“If it makes dollars, it makes sense.”

Jackson becomes the fourth Colt in recent years to get caught using PED’s, joining LaRon Landry, Mathis, and Jones. These four guys had one other thing in common when they got caught: They were all at least 30 years old. To put it a different way: The clock is ticking on that career. It’s harder to recover from a game or an injury or a workout than it was before. If it makes dollars, it makes sense.

Aside from losing Jackson’s experience on the field, his suspension is also a bit embarrassing. I thought we’d finally put the Deflategate scandal behind us – I’d truly forgotten about it – and then the first thing I see after hearing of Jackson’s suspension is USA Today saying “Colts LB D’Qwell Jackson’s suspension revives Deflategate subplot.” I nearly passed out. They’re right, though. What an embarrassing moment for the Colts. We can’t prosper.

Q: What’s up with Jackson???? – Amy Louise via Facebook

Oh no, what did Tito do now? Are Randy and Marlon fighting again? Let me guess, LaToya caused a scene at Thanksgiving because the turkey Jermaine made was too dry.

Wait, you meant “Action Jackson” didn’t you? Ah yes, Carl Weathers. Mr. Weathers has played some top movie roles during his time. He was Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, and he eventually died. He was in Predator with The Governator, and he eventually died. He was legendary golf pro Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore, and he eventually died. STOP KILLING CARL WEATHERS IN MOVIES YOU JERKS.

Thanks for all of the questions.

See you soon, Colts fans.























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