Mailbag: If Andrew Luck Is Not Healthy, Will The Colts Make The 2018 Playoffs?
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INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 1070TheFan.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our weekly mailbag.
Submit your questions here.
Here is the collection of Thursday questions:
Stuart (Wales, UK)
Firstly I've got to say, I absoloutely love the Frank Reich hire! It's rare that you get a second chance so early after making a mistake (Josh McDaniels) in life. I'm excited about his leadership qualities to right the ship and get the team back on track and essentially start rebuilding again. Leadership qualities that I don't think McDaniels has in his repertoire! I rejoiced at the news that the offense was going to be more aggressive, up tempo and with a strong element of no huddle because I know it's what I and a lot of other Colts fans have been calling for for years. My question resides on the defensive side of the ball...
With the hire of Matt Eberflus (excited about this hire too) and the Colts moving back to a 4-3 tampa '2' style defense, where size can be substituted for speed to a degree and the whole scheme relies on speed and aggressive tackling - will Clayton Geathers make the permanent move to Weakside Linebacker where he could thrive? Not only do I think his skillset is perfect for the WILL, but this would also allow Matthias Farley to stay on the field at SS, where I think he actually had an unexpectedly outstanding season!
Bowen: Stuart, I do think I initially undersold the leadership qualities of Reich. Then you throw in his detailed look at the offensive scheme coming and fans have to like what they are hearing from their new head coach. You ask a very good question about Clayton Geathers, especially when factoring in the depth at safety. I do think Geathers could be seeing a lot of linebacker looks in sub packages, but I’m not ready just yet to commit to him fully as a base, weakside linebacker. I want to see what the Colts can find in free agency at that position group first. Given the trust in Farley and the lack of quality at linebacker, I would not be opposed at all to moving Geathers to that spot. But I’m not sure if Matt Eberflus will definitely want that on a 3-down basis. This is something to watch for sure though.
Eric (Lawrenceville, NJ)
How do you see Denzelle Good fitting into the new Colts system? Reich talked about wanting athletic offensive linemen to move in space and Good is listed as 345 lbs. Do you think he can lose enough weight and where would he have to move to fit the system? Thanks.
Bowen: Good could very well have to lose some weight when you take a look at the athleticism of Philly’s linemen the past year. Plus, it’s no guarantee that Good definitely has a roster spot going forward. Sure, I think he could be a nice depth piece for the Colts in 2018. But if this team goes out and makes the necessary moves that are needed in free agency, then you might be getting into a numbers crunch on the offensive line. Let’s say the Colts go out and find 2 OL starters in free agency, that means you are going to have a potential quartet of Good/Haeg/Clark/Vujnovich fighting for the 5th and final starting job. I see Good as more of a guard going forward.
Different outlets are reporting different stories on Andrew Luck's whereabouts. Indy Star (Zak Keefer) says he is still in town rehabbing. Mike Chappell reports that he is in L.A. working with Tom House. Ballard never said where he was during his press conf. Hopefully he has progressed to the point he is in L.A. and is close to finally throwing a football at the 3dqb facility. Is there any way of knowing where he is. Can you please find out. Thank you, Jim from Charlotte
Bowen: Right now, the updates are so very vague on Andrew Luck. I wish we knew more on the Luck front. I believe once his throwing starts again, the throwing facility in Los Angeles is where he will be spending a good chunk of time in the coming weeks. It’s absolutely vital that he makes it through this new throwing program without a hiccup. Any hiccup, and a possible second surgery that would follow, is really going to bring the 2018 season into jeopardy. As of last Tuesday at the Frank Reich press conference, Luck is still not throwing. Hopefully we will get some more concrete updates on Luck’s throwing when the Combine starts a week from Tuesday.
Jeremy (Williamsport, PA)
Put together your ideal roster for this coming season: include potential free agents and possible draft picks.
Bowen: I’d be lying to you if I could accurately predict what the Colts will do in free agency and the draft with actual names slotted in. I’ll go with positions, before I take a deeper dive into FA and the draft now that the coaching search is mercifully over. In FA, I would re-sign Rashaan Melvin, Pierre Desir and Adam Vinatieri. I would nab starting caliber players along the offensive line (probably a tackle and a guard), a starting receiver (one with a bigger body and then a slot guy as well), an inside linebacker. Then in the draft, I would go pass rusher, running back, inside linebacker, cornerback, defensive line. That’s kind of how I see things.
Kevin Pritchard was terrific in his post trade deadline interview(s). With a team that is this close and a favorable schedule the rest of February, where do you see the Pacers finishing record wise?
Bowen: Terrific. What an insightful interview. If you haven’t already, check out this piece on Pritchard that might have been lost in the Colts’ coaching search madness. Predicting the rest of the schedule for the Pacers? The schedule does get a bit tougher once they return from the All-Star break. With 24 games to go, I’ll say the Pacers go 14-10 in those games. So, give me a 47-35 mark and the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Mark (Lehi, UT)
Say that Ballard goes crazy this free agency and brings in the best talent available at all of our needs (Allen Robinson, Norwell, Solder, Hyde, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Hitchens, Malcolm Butler). Would even such frivolity be enough to give us the super bowl, the division, or a winning record? I know that Luck is the big wild card there but I was hoping you would answer the same question both with and without him. I know that Ballard won't/can't be so wreckless, but even with a good draft and these major names coming here, it doesn't seem like we are a playoff team without Luck.
Bowen: Mark, I really respect the ambition, but there’s no way the Colts would be able to sign all of those guys. That’s just not going to happen. But let’s stay with your scenario. If the Colts did that, and added some necessary impact guys in the draft, too, this is definitely a team that can make a run in the AFC, with a healthy Luck. Without a healthy Luck, I still think it could be a possible playoff team, if Jacoby Brissett can make some strides. It will be difficult to make the playoffs in the AFC South, without a healthy Luck. But that incredible FA haul, plus a solid draft could get the Colts much closer to 8-8, 9-7 than maybe most people think.
Leonardo B. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
What will be made of Rob Chudzinski and Ted Monachino? As far as I know, they're still under contract and have not been fired.
And what are the open coach positions for the Colts?
Bowen: I do not expect Chud or Monachino to be back in any capacity next season. They are actually 2 of the very few Chuck Pagano assistants to have not taken a job elsewhere for 2018. I figured they would at least find a positional gig somewhere else. Maybe they just want to take the year off and get back into things next year.
Noel (Madison, IN)
With Frank Reich being a top candidate for colts HC position, and to a lesser extent John Defilippo, I'm surprised I have not read much speculation that the Colts could consider both as HC and OC. Flip's contact is expiring so he would be available. They'd of course be very familiar with each other and run the same system. Seems like a great pairing, no?
Bowen: Obviously, Noel sent in this question before the hiring of Reich in Indy and with DeFilippo going to Minnesota to be the offensive coordinator. I do think that would have been a great pairing, but it makes sense for DeFilippo to become the coordinator for a team with a defensive-minded head coach. That should help DeFilippo in getting a head coaching job in the near future. Here is more on Nick Sirianni becoming the new offensive coordinator in Indy.
Hey, Kevin. It's been a while for me in this forum so I wanted to drop version 1.0 of Stan's Offseason Program for the Indianapolis Colts. I'm trying to plot it fairly realistically, with us missing on some FA names and not going too starry eyed with my draft:
Retain Melvin, Desir, Mingo, and Vinny for sure. Mingo and Desir are cheap relative to their value as depth players, while Melvin proved worthy of a nice contract. Adam requires no explanation.
Let Gore, Moncrief, and Mewhort go for sure. Age, cost, and mutual agreement should lead us to part ways with Frank, while inconsistencies and health lead to the other ousters.
Sign Andrew Norwell, Anthony Hitchens, Sammy Watkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Jerick McKinnon. Norwell is young and a massive improvement on the OL. I'm not playing with this line and not afraid to drop a Brink's truck on his doorstep. Hitchens has familiarity with Eberflus and helps shore up a perennial weakness. I believe Robinson and Landry will sign massive deals, so Watkins and Gabriel are cost-effective proxies. McKinnon will be cheap and very effective in the McDaniels offense. Dion Lewis would be better, if he was affordable. Demarcus Lawrence will be tagged, so ignore him.
Draft R1 Bradley Chubb, R2 Will Hernandez/Isaiah Wynn, R3 Tyrell Crosby, R4 Royce Freeman. Chubb has perhaps the highest floor in this draft and we desperately require an edge rusher. There are some sneaky great guards this draft and one of them will fall to Round 2 because the league is squeamish about interior linemen. Round 3 is a total wild card and could easily be BPA. Crosby lacks athleticism and polish which could drop him, but he'd complete my rework of the OL as a powerful RT. I'm going RB in round 4 because if McDaniels uses RB by committee, a rotational power back can be put off a little while. Freeman has power and can get skinny. A lack of top end speed post-injury and a loaded RB class push him into a nice position for us, completing a cheap and very workable committee.
Bowen: Oh my, Stan. You continue to go above and beyond. What a detailed report on an offseason I think fans would absolutely love. I especially like that free agent haul you are bringing in. That covers a lot of needs with some high-level guys at major positions of need. I know you sent this in before the McDaniels implosion, but it still really applies to a lot of what is needed to help out Frank Reich and this new staff in Indianapolis.