Sooner or later, it was inevitably going to happen. With each late game-winning drive Andrew Luck and the Colts completed, it became more and more incredible that they could win each and every game. Even though it looks like they've made these fourth quarter drives seem like a piece of cake, almost every team, and every Quarterback, only succeeds half the time. Having already done it eight of his first nine tries (and you can't blame him for not covering Cecil Shorts last year), Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Dolphins, where the final drive sputtered out at the Miami 23 yard line, ending with three straight incomplete passes and a sack. For now, I'll take 80% in late game situations.
I think there is an issue here, however, and that's the fact that the Colts are seemingly always in a situation where they need a drive late in the game to win, even in games where they've outplayed their opponent (didn't happen this week, but the point remains). After scoring 17 points in the first half, they could only muster an Adam Vinatieri field goal, coming after a Ryan Tannehill fumble that game the Colts the ball inside the Miami 40 yard line. Yes they had a TD taken off the board thanks to a questionable penalty, but that doesn't excuse the other four drives in the half that resulted in 0 points. For the Colts to take the step to the next level, they'll need to learn how to not play close games each and every week. Sunday's game wasn't the greatest example to use, as the two teams are pretty similar in terms of talent, but it was a part of a common theme.
I was at the game Sunday, and sat pretty close to midfield, so I had a good opportunity to watch different parts of the field to see what was happening. Lots has been made of that final sack and how the Offensive Line / Donald Brown can't block. Now, I haven't seen any replays whatsoever, but I thought the O-Line was extremely effective against one of the best Front 7s in the NFL. Luck had plenty of time on almost every play, and I think most of the offensive struggles should be pointed at the QB and his receivers. It could very well have been that Dolphins only rushed four on almost every play, which made getting open that much more difficult, but on the surface the OL was a very pleasant surprise. It makes me optimistic that they will figure it out eventually, and they'll be a well-oiled machine by mid-season or so.
Our friends at Elias only have disappointing news for the Colts this week. The Dolphins scored two touchdowns in the first quarter Sunday, the first time they had done that on the road since Week 13 of 2002, a span of 83 games. It was the longest current streak in the NFL. That game in 2002 that they led 14-3 after the first quarter against the Bills? They lost 38-21. Wish that had happened Sunday.
How did the Colts look statistically on Sunday? Let's take a look:
Non-Adjusted Stats from Week 2:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||40.8%||26||100.0%||32||N||Y||6-1|
|Avg Start Pos||25.0||17||24.8||14||N||N||8-1|
|3 and Outs||2||8||2||23||N||N||3-2|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.181||2||0.000||32||N||N||7-3|
|Ranking - Week (32)||7||27||18|
|Ranking - Season (64)||13||53||33|
Adjusted Stats from Week 2:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||54.2%||16||78.1%||27||N||Y||6-1|
|Avg Start Pos||20.5||26||28.1||18||N||N||8-1|
|3 and Outs||1.6||5||0.2||30||N||N||3-2|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.370||8||0.067||31||N||N||7-3|
|Ranking - Week (32)||3||28||18|
|Ranking - Season (64)||10||57||36|
- I decided to show the adjusted numbers, but they are too volatile this early to draw any meaningful conclusions. I'll talk mostly about the raw numbers this week.
- The game was won and lost inside the Orange Zone, which is the 35 yard line and in. The Dolphins scored touchdowns all three times they got inside the Colts 35, while the Colts scored just 40.8% of the possible points, including three trips with 0. Can't leave that many points on the board and expect to win.
- Overall the Offense didn't play quite as bad as I was expecting, as they moved the ball pretty effectively, showing top 10 in all drive-related stats. The Colts gained over 40 yards per drive, which on average with their starting position of the 25, puts them right at the Miami 35 when they stalled out. Yep, sounds about right.
- Luck's passing was mediocre once again, but I think that number will rise as the season goes along. That Miami defense is better than a lot of people think. The interception hurt this number, as did the couple of sacks.
- Colts ran the ball really well, as Brad pointed out yesterday. It's a shame it doesn't mean much in terms of winning. You'll see why below.
- As a whole, the defense was better this week than against the Raiders, and the Dolphins will turn out to be better offensively than Oakland, so that's a good sign. Still a very long way to go though.
- Big plays were a problem, as they were over six yards per play, ranking 25th for the week. They were able to get the Dolphins off the field in a timely manner, ranking in the top half for Time of Possession per Drive, but there were several times, including the drive right before the Colts final drive, where they let the clock stop unnecessarily. For now, though, we'll take a minor win for the Defense.
- Colts struggled both against the pass and against the run, as the Dolphins were quite effective at both. The passing numbers are not promising at all, especially after they looked decent in Week 1. Could have had to do with the QB though. We'll find out soon enough.
- The Dolphins were not called for a single penalty Sunday. Only once all season last year did a team play penalty-free (Steelers Week 15 vs. Cowboys). The Dolphins committed 10 penalties a week ago against Cleveland. The Colts only had 3 called on them, but that's all they had called on them last week as well. Not saying anything untoward was happening, but it seems like the officials must have let a lot go on uncalled.
Season Stats through Week 2 (Adjusted):
|Orange Zone Eff||54.0%||18||Buccaneers||81.7%||28||Saints||9-3||0.750|
|Avg Start Pos||23.7||26||Saints||30.2||17||Panthers||16-1||0.941|
|3 and Outs||1.80||4||Buccaneers||0.36||30||Jets||12-3||0.800|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.257||4||Falcons||0.223||29||Rams||10-7||0.588|
- The Offense ranks highly in most of the drive-related stats, except for the one at the top (they are 4th overall when not adjusting). I'm very disappointed in the passing number, as the Colts will continue to struggle to win games if that does not come back up.
- With the Defense looking like they'll struggle once again, scoring points will be of even greater importance, so we'll be watching the Orange and Red Zone stats closely this year. Most weeks it'll tell the story of how the Colts did. Certainly has the first two weeks.
- The Colts are forcing Turnovers, nearly two per game after you adjust for opponent, and have 3 so far this season. Maybe this is the strategy: take chances on plays trying to get turnovers, but you know you'll give up the big play here and there. Looked like Antoine Bethea tried to do that in first quarter, missed the ball, and the Dolphins got a huge passing play out of it. With a good Offense, I don't mind the strategy, as long as they can score points.
- If stopping the run is a point of emphasis, their point isn't coming out clear enough, as they are dead last in RB Success Rate. As you can tell though, being good in RB Success Rate on both sides of the ball only has won you games 5 of 13 times. Similarly "bad for business" is Red Zone Efficiency (?!), winning just 43.8% so far. That will assuredly come up, but interesting how different that is from the Orange Zone Efficiency, which is winning at 75%.
- The Overall rankings look about right for each unit. Still don't think they'll be meaningful for a couple more weeks, but they do look accurate for the Colts.
There's a good chance that over the course of the year that Week 2 will look better than Week 1, even though the Win/Loss went opposite of that. It's why opponents matter when looking at how teams play. In fact, if I were to draw any conclusions after two games (dangerous, I know), it's that the Colts are actually improved from a year ago already (and showing signs of it), but their record is not going to show it. There is a very real chance the Colts will be 2-5 going into the Bye week, and they'll be better than they were a year ago statistically. It's what happens when you play the three best teams in the NFL within a five week stretch.
There's no need to push the panic button, even if the Colts are 2-5. But Sunday was a big opportunity to help put some concerns to rest, and it slipped through their fingers. Need to make up for it somewhere.