Third Down Offense: Inside the Numbers

It's time for some statistical good news.  Last week I looked at our defensive efficiency on 3rd downs, and it was atrocious (to put it nicely).  This week, we look at the other side of the ball.  You know, that side led by that Peyton guy.

I'm going to break the season down into 2 halves, with the first half ending after the Tennessee MNF game.  The second half will be the last 9 games of the regular season, and the playoff game.  You'll notice why the Colts struggled the first 7 games, and why they won 9 in a row.

Here is a summary of the first 7 games:

  First 7 Games
Run Pass Total
Conv Att Conv Att Conv Att Pct
Short (≤ 3) 11
13
7
10
18
23
78 %
Middle (4 - 7) 1
2
9
23
10
25
40 %
Long (8+) 0
3
9
38
9
41
22 %
Total 12
18
25
71
37
89
42 %
Pct 66.7 %
35.2 %
41.6 %

Some things to notice:

  • Short yardage rushing was very good in the early part of the season.  I didn't remember that, but it was.  I think the 2nd half of the season jaded my memory.
  • 3rd and Longs were really bad (Baltimore game was almost half of the total number of conversions).  Actually, they may be league average, but I don't know (working on getting that data).  Along with that, the Colts almost had as many 3rd and Longs as they did Shorts and Mids combined.  That helps explain a little why the offense struggled early on.
  • The Colts were 12th in the league after 8 weeks on Thrid Down Conversion Percentage.  The team in first?  The Texans (43/90).  That was surprising to me, especially with the way they started the season.  They were also 3-4 at this point.

Here is a summary of the last 10 games:

  Last 10 Games
Run Pass Total
Conv Att Conv Att Conv Att Pct
Short (≤ 3) 17
27
17
26
34
53
64 %
Middle (4 - 7) 1
4
16
31
17
35
49 %
Long (8+) 0
2
19
37
19
39
49 %
Total 18
33
52
94
70
127
55 %
Pct 54.5 %
55.3 %
55.1 %

Some things to notice:

  • Rushing, in general, went down over the win streak.  It was especially bad on 3rd and Short.  That should be over 80%, and it is just barely over 60% (63%).  This is something that definitely needs addressed in the offseason, whether it be through a RB or OL.  As a side note, however, the Colts were 4/4 against the Steelers on short yardage runs.
  • The Colts converted over 50% of their 3rd and long passes.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that is tops in the league, by far.  Keeping drives alive, even with no running game.
  • In contrast to the first half of the season, short yardage situations were now the highest, as opposed to the long yardage ones in the first half.  This directly relates to winning more games.  64% is still not good.  This number needs improved (it bears repeating over and over).
  • The only game the Colts were under 50% was the playoff game, where they were 0/4 on 3rd and longs.  This explains a lot.

Here is a summary of the full year (17 games):

  Total
Run Pass Total
Conv Att Conv Att Conv Att Pct
Short (≤ 3) 28 40 24 36 52 76 68 %
Middle (4 - 7) 2 6 25 54 27 60 45 %
Long (8+) 0 5 28 75 28 80 35 %
Total 30 51 77 165 107 216 50 %
Pct 58.8 % 46.7 % 49.5 %

Some things to notice:

  • Overall, the Colts finished #1 in the league in Third Down Conversion Percentage (not a bad jump from #12, huh?).  The Colts also led the league in Conversions.
  • Again, I'm not sure what the league averages are, but just imagine how good the Colts could have been had they converted just a few more 3rd and shorts?  One in particular comes to mind...
  • The Colts didn't try too often to catch their opponents off guard from 4 yards and up, as they only ran it 11 times (out of a possible 140).  I know a couple of those were kneel downs as well, so it's a little skewed there too.

UPDATE:  You can find the Game by Game stats here.  There were too many characters for SBNation to handle, so I just made a separate page.  Thoughts?

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