Just looking at the basic stats for the 2012 Colts defense, the overall picture is not good.
Against the Run:
Ranking 29th allowing 2200 yards on the season
But were the Colts really as bad as the rankings indicate?
The story of our ground defense is really a tale of three seasons. It is a split of 5 stellar games, 6 very good games, and 5 "season destroying downright awful, possibly the worst five games in the teams history against the run, games."
In five games the Colts held the opposing team to fewer than 100 rushing yards as a team. In these games the Colts gave up an average of 73 yards per game. Leading rushers in these 5: A. Peterson,R. Jennings, M. Hardesty, R. Bush, J. Locker. Yes we limited the same Adrian Peterson that rushed for more than 2,000 yards this year to 60 yards against us, yes Jake Locker the QB led the titans rushing attack against our Colts, while we limited Chris Johnson to 44 yards on 19 carries in the same game, and Trent Richardson led the Browns in carries (8) while M. Hardesty rushed 7 times for 28 yards.
In 6 games where no single opposing rusher topped 100 yards, the opposing team did. In these six games, the Colts were 4-2 giving up an average of 120 yards per game. Leading rushers: Forte, A. Rodgers, Chris Johnson, J. Eldeman (Pats, 1 carry 47 yards), J. Bell, A. Foster. Yes the Packers leading rusher was Aaron Rodgers, we limited Chris Johnson to 143 yards against us on the season. At least one rush in 5 of 6 games accounted for at least 32 of each team's rushing yards, In these six games the average long rush against our Colts was 40 yards, showing that giving up long runs in these six was the reason the majority of opposing teams topped 100 yards at all.
5 times the Colts allowed at least one back to reach the century mark. In these 5 games the Colts allowed 1102 rushing yards to the tune of a little more than 220 yards on average per game. Giving up 185, 252, 135, 178 and 352 yards in those games. In these 5 the Colts were 2-3. Leading rushers: A. Foster 165, MJD 177, S. Green 161, C. Spiller 107, J. Charles 222. Yes P. Hillis rushed for 101 in the same game that J. Charles went off, A. Foster ran for over 250 yards against our Colts in 2012 but the NFL leader in rushing TD's only punched in one while playing Indy, and S. Green is garbage. In these games the average long rush was 55 yards, and J. Charles had 2 86 yard scampers and MJD hit his long of 59 twice in their big games against the Colts this season.
In a very encouraging note 11 times the Colts did not allow a 100 yard rusher. In these 11 games the Colts had a record of 9-2, the two losses coming by way of massive blowouts to the Bears and Patriots. And gave up 98.8 yards per game.
In a very discouraging note all 4 of the Colts 2012 losses came in the same games that the long rushes were 61, 59(x2), 31 and 47 yards for an average of nearly 50 yards per long rush in those games.
What this shows is that limiting big plays on the ground would have likely won at least one more game for our Colts, possibly even earning the AFC south title in the process.
What the numbers show: In 2012 against the run the Colts were the best in the league good for 1/3 of the season, elite for another 1/3 and historically bad for 1/3. For 2/3 of the 2012 season the Colts rush defense was possibly the best in the league, granted other things factor into the stats that show this but the fact remains in our best 11 games this season the Colts gave up 98.8 yards per game, in our worst 5 we gave up 220 per game. Clearly there was a massive, gap between our defensive performances in these games, actually the term "massive" doesn't do it justice. And while I have split the season into 3rds make no mistake there was no improvement as the season went on, it was up and down all year with very little consistency, I simply split the games by individual 100 yard rushers and opposing team efforts reaching 100 or more yards on the ground.
Conclusion: The Colts we're not as bad as their 29th overall ranking would suggest. In fact, they were statistically very good in more than two-thirds of the games played in 2012, but five petulant games brought the Colts ranking from what would have been a top 5 rush defense to 29th best in the league.
Solution: Consistency in both game planning and execution. When examining the season one game at a time statistically it's clear that there was absolutely no reason to allow these awful 5 games to happen. Moving forward limiting long runs, will drastically improve our ability to improve not only our defensive ranking but our W-L record too.
If anyone is interested, I will look at our passing yardage and how it interacted statistically with our ability to stop the run. I am interested to see what if any correlation the two share.