2013 NFL Week One: Inside The Colts Numbers

Andy Lyons

Did the Colts play the best Offensively in the NFL Sunday? The answer might surprise you.

Sunday afternoon felt like the good ol' days we used to spend watching the Colts in the mid-2000s. Offense jumps out to big lead, Defense slowly lets other team in the game, Offense pulls it out in the end, everyone complains why they didn't win by more. In the immediate aftermath there's lots of complaining about both sides of the ball, when in reality one side completely dominated, while the other fell flat on their face. Once you take a step back and look at the game objectively, and relative to the other 31 teams, you see just how well they played.

The Colts first two drives were things of perfection, with both touchdown passes from Andrew Luck being brilliant passes, each difficult in their own way. Then it seemed like the Offense stalled out, not doing very much other than eating up some clock by running the ball (unsuccessfully). Meanwhile, the Defense had real trouble containing Terrelle Pryor, which really gives me the warm and fuzzies about defending Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, who the Colts will see in the next three weeks. Everything, however, is under control with Luck under center.

For the 8th time in 17 regular season games, Luck led the Colts on a game-winning drive, this time going 11 plays, 80 yards in 5:49, capped off by a 19 yard run by Luck himself. According to Elias, only one other QB in the last 25 years had a game-winning TD run longer than Luck's run Sunday...Tim Tebow back in 2011 against the Jets. Luck also became the first QB to win his first seven games decided by four points or fewer, beating out guys like Daryle Lamonica, Mike Tomczak, Tom Brady (of course), John Skelton (really?), and Tebow (winner). The law of averages says those numbers will begin to come back to .500 at some point. Let's hope it doesn't happen for a long time.

Just how well did the Colts play on Sunday? Let's look at the stats and find out:

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 1:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 84.0% 1 78.6% 30 N N 3-0
ANPY/A 8.074 8 4.900 6 Y N 7-2
Turnovers 0 1 2 7 Y N 9-0
Yds/Drive 43.57 3 48.50 31 N N 4-0
ToP/Drive 3:53.3 2 4:05.9 32 N N 8-1
Yds/Play 5.755 17 6.159 22 N N 2-1
Orange Zone Eff 100.0% 1 57.1% 12 N N 3-2
First Downs/Drive 2.57 1 2.50 31 N N 6-2
3rd/4th Down 54.5% 3 57.1% 31 N N 6-2
Avg Start Pos 18.8 30 28.5 19 N N 8-0
3 and Outs 2 5 1 29 N N 9-1
RZ Eff 100.0% 1 66.7% 13 N N 2-4
Plays/Drive 7.571 3 7.875 32 N N 9-1
Penalty Yds / Play 0.585 6 0.810 22 N N 3-4
RB Success 31.8% 23 61.5% 32 N Y 3-6
Yds/Carry 4.88 5 5.18 30 N N 4-3
Ranking - Week (32) 1 29 11
Ranking - Season (32) 1 29 11

Some thoughts:

  • Obviously with only one game we can't adjust anything yet, but using last year's adjustments, the Colts still had the #1 Offense Sunday. Clearly they played really well.
  • What specifically did the Colts Offense do well? They were the best team in Drive Success Rate, First Downs per drive, Orange Zone Efficiency and Red Zone Efficiency. The Orange Zone (inside 35 yard line) had four other team be perfect as well, including the Broncos who scored TDs all six times they got inside the Ravens 35. That's insane.
  • The passing number could be a bit better, but it was more a function of throwing shorter/quicker passes rather than it being from incompletions or turnovers. You can see that by the number for Yards/Play, which only ranked 17th. There just wasn't many shots down the field, which is why it was "only" 8th. Air it out a bit Pep!
  • The Colts had awful starting field position all day. Stop me if you've heard this before.
  • The two RB stats are telling as well. When you just look at Yards per Carry the number looks really good (4.88). This includes the scrambles by Luck, including the GW touchdown. But when you focus just on the RBs, and their success rate on each play, it was a dismal 31.8%, 23rd in the league. Now, personally I could care less what that value is, as I don't think it's critical to win in the NFL. The problems start to occur when the coaching staff believes the opposite is true and wastes play after play running into the line for "three yards and a cloud of dust." The Colts are good at passing, and passing leads to wins. Pass the ball.
  • I'll start with the good for the Defense. They defended the pass well all day, intercepting Pryor twice in the Red Zone, including Antoine Bethea's game-clincher. With how bad the rest of the phases were, I'm really hopeful that they can defend the pass well. If they can do that, the Colts will be fine. Because of the two RZ turnovers we see that efficiency was good as well, both in the Red and Orange Zones.
  • The bad on Defense starts with the inability to get the Raiders off the field, as pretty much every drive-related stat the Colts are in the bottom 4 of the league. The Raider only had 8 drives on Sunday (Colts had just 7 if you don't count the kneel down at the end), while the Broncos had 15. If the Colts offense is really going to be this good, the Defense has to get them the ball more often. They must get teams off the field.
  • They also couldn't stop the run, especially Pryor, but their RB Success Rate was the worst in the league. Again, it's hard to tell whether the Raiders may actually be really good at rushing or the Colts are just really bad at stopping it, but I'm going to lean towards the latter for now, as the Raiders stunk running the ball last year, and that was one thing the Colts actually did well defensively last year.

One thing to note about all these numbers is that when they get adjusted in a few weeks we'll get a truer sense as to how they played Sunday. There's a good chance the Offense may fall back a bit, and we all hope the Raider Offense is improved over a year ago and Sunday was not just a dreadful showing. In subsequent weeks I'll also have the adjusted numbers so we can compare teams better. I'll show both the season totals as well as a week-to-week comparison, so at a high level you can see how the Offense/Defense moves up and down based on more data.

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