2010 Colts Statistical Review: RB Success Rate - Offense

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to take a look at our Winning Stats, and compare the 2010 Colts to the previous 10 years, to see exactly what they did better than before, and where we could see some improvement in 2011. I'm going to start with RB Success Rate, a Football Outsiders brain-child. You can see how they formulate RB Success Rate, and you can check out my initial look at RB Success Rate, and how many wins it leads to.

With all the talk last week about Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian ripping on "stat geeks" when talking about the Colts run game, I felt this was the perfect stat to start with. As you'll see once we get into the offensive numbers over the past 10 years, Polian's ire should have been focused on people using the incorrect stat when referencing the run game. The better stat, as you'll see, is RB Success Rate. It takes into account the situation, providing a better reference than just the straight Yards per Carry. For example, a 2 yard run on 3rd and 1 is much better than a 12 yard run on 3rd and 15. In Yards/Carry world, the opposite is true.

I'll start with a macro view of the stat, looking at the totals for the past 10 years, with an average from 2001-09 and from 2006-09 for a more recent look, since the team is pretty different from the 2001 incarnation. Then, I'll break it down into each of the four downs, and look at just the 4th quarter, to see where exactly the Colts struggled and need to improve.

Here's how the offensive numbers look for RB Success Rate over the past 10 years:

Year Offense
Actual Rank Adjusted Rank
2001 50.1% 4 49.6% 7
2002 45.7% 18 45.5% 18
2003 46.8% 13 46.6% 13
2004 51.7% 4 50.7% 4
2005 55.7% 1 53.9% 1
2006 55.6% 1 54.5% 1
2007 52.8% 2 51.7% 4
2008 48.5% 7 49.0% 7
2009 47.7% 9 48.9% 6
2010 46.3% 15 46.2% 12
Avg '01-'09 50.6% 1 49.7% 7
Avg '06-'09 51.4% 1 51.0% 5
Avg '10 46.3% 15 46.2% 12

A couple things to notice:

  • 2010 was the second worst year, in both actual stats and adjusted stats, behind only 2002 over the past 10 years.  Edgerrin James was coming off of a knee injury from 2001, and started two rookies on the Offensive line (Ryan Diem and Rick DeMulling).
  • The Colts, over both 2001-09 and 2006-09, were the best team in terms of RB Success Rate in the league. What does that tell you? That the Colts actually have been fairly successful running the football, or at least successful at accomplishing what they have to with the running game. 2010 was a pretty big dropoff, falling back into the middle of the pack, being merely average. Possibly the difference between 10-6 and 12-4?
  • Clearly the Colts wanted to address these shortcomings, using three of their five draft picks (you could actually argue four of six because of the trade up for Ben Ijalana) on improving parts of the running game. I'd even guess the Colts used these exact numbers while preparing for the draft. This should have screamed at them that something just wasn't right in 2010.

While looking at the season totals can give us some trends, it doesn't do a very good job telling us exactly where the Colts struggled. That's where we look at the totals by down to find out what was really going on. I've also included the Fourth Quarter numbers, to get a better sense of those late drives that Polian suggested have also struggled:

Year First Down Second Down Third Down Fourth Down Fourth Quarter Total
Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct Conv Att Pct
2001 128 257 49.8% 61 133 45.9% 27 44 61.4% 3 3 100.0% 52 109 47.7% 219 437 50.1%
2002 94 224 42.0% 70 141 49.6% 30 60 50.0% 4 8 50.0% 59 117 50.4% 198 433 45.7%
2003 113 230 49.1% 67 162 41.4% 22 44 50.0% 7 11 63.6% 68 139 48.9% 209 447 46.8%
2004 125 250 50.0% 78 138 56.5% 15 33 45.5% 1 3 33.3% 55 129 42.6% 219 424 51.7%
2005 142 263 54.0% 86 142 60.6% 25 50 50.0% 6 10 60.0% 71 142 50.0% 259 465 55.7%
2006 140 264 53.0% 82 139 59.0% 18 28 64.3% 0 1 0.0% 75 132 56.8% 240 432 55.6%
2007 122 244 50.0% 76 142 53.5% 31 52 59.6% 5 5 100.0% 72 142 50.7% 234 443 52.8%
2008 87 194 44.8% 61 120 50.8% 27 46 58.7% 2 5 40.0% 50 102 49.0% 177 365 48.5%
2009 106 227 46.7% 48 98 49.0% 16 33 48.5% 3 5 60.0% 49 117 41.9% 173 363 47.7%
2010 95 226 42.0% 63 120 52.5% 21 42 50.0% 2 3 66.7% 51 111 45.9% 181 391 46.3%
Avg '01-'09 117 239 49.1% 70 135
51.8% 23 43 54.1% 3.4 5.7 60.8% 61 125 48.8% 214 423 50.6%
Avg '06-'09 114 232 49.0% 67 125 53.5% 23 40
57.9% 2.5 4 62.5% 62 123 49.9% 206 401 51.4%
Avg '10 95 226 42.0% 63 120 52.5% 21 42 50.0% 2 3 66.7% 51 111 45.9% 181 391 46.3%

A couple things here too, as I'm just going to focus on the pink rows:

  • The Colts were awful on First Down in 2010, beating out only 2002 (again), but this time it was only .08% better. It was way, way below their historical averages. FO's Aaron Schatz pointed this out last week, just how bad the Colts were on First Down running the ball. This chart clearly agrees with Schatz. If you want something to point at that says the Colts struggled running the ball, this is where they stunk last year. League average since 2001 is 45.5%.
  • Second Down looks to be right at their historical average, and over 50% is a very good number. This was clearly not the problem with the Colts running game. League average was 44.4%, so running the ball on second down doesn't need to concern anyone.
  • Third Down may be a little lower than their historical average, but I'm not going to complain too much about a 50% success rate, especially when the league average was 48.5%. Just because they didn't hit their ridiculous historical average doesn't mean they struggled. Sure it wasn't as good as before, but I won't complain about it.
  • We also can see a drop in the Fourth Quarter, down a few percentage points from historical averages. League average has been 45.5%, so 2010 was an average years for the Colts, when they are usually quite a bit above average. The Colts really struggled at this in 2009, although I feel some of that came from big leads where they Colts were running the ball up big late, and not having "successful" runs. The Colts didn't have that luxury in 2010.
  • The Colts were also slightly below average in number of attempts in 2010, which is what I remember seeing with my eyes. I'm not sure what to attribute that to, other than a lack of confidence in the running game.

Coming up later this week is the defensive numbers, which aren't anywhere near this pretty.

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