This post is sponsored by Comcast and their NFL RedZone channel, a new NFL Network channel. Want to see every touchdown from every NFL game as it happens as well as live look-ins to all of Sunday's games in key situations? Then you need Comcast's NFL RedZone.
Yes, yes, yes. Another post sponsored by the NFL Network and Comcast. Oh, the horror. It's no different than this post being sponsored by Downy Liquid Detergent or Trojan Condoms. It's only the NFL Network, as in the network owned by the NFL, the very league we blog about here. It's only the NFL essentially giving us money to blog so we can have technology like the auto-updating open threads, which allow you nite owls to post crazy pictures of cats looking funny all evening long.
So, please, cut me some slack for having posts sponsored by stuff like the NFL Network. "Selling out" is when I make weekly posts about how great a sponsored product is, which has absolutely nothing to do with football. "Selling out" is when I start talking about how great ESPN is and how they are the model for sports journalism. When I do THAT, call me a "sell out."
Anyway, unlike last week, where I made so many errors on the stats I should have changed my profile picture from the site logo to one of a donkey, this week I wanted to focus on a key stat that really is appropriate for this story: Red Zone offense and defense.
I don't have Red Zone rankings yet, but I do know where the Colts stand in these key categories. In the past, the Colts defense was tagged by the ever simplistic label of "bend but don't break" style of defense. The truth is all NFL defenses fit this mold, even the "good" ones. Offenses are too sophisticated, and the rules (like the Brady Rule) focus the game around the quarterback, giving him certain advantages. Unless you have an idiot running your offense, it should be able to move the ball between the 20s.
However, once inside the 20, that is where good defenses separate from bad ones.
This year, the Colts defense has actually bucked the trend a bit from previous defenses. They'd allowed only 13 opponent's drives inside the 20 yard line. Opponents have converted 46% of those attempts into TDs, with two of those conversions being the fourth quarter TDs in the Seahawks game, which were during garbage time with the game long since decided.
Again, that's a decent percentage. I'd like to see it a little lower, but when Indy's defense is second in the league in points allowed (giving up an average of 12.8 ppg), I really have no reason to complain.
On offense, the Colts are the model for what all NFL teams want to do when they get in the Red Zone. Despite many big plays this year from the offense, they have still managed to drive into the Red Zone 21 times. That's impressive.
Indy has converted 66% of those Red Zone drives into touchdowns.
Oh wait. Sorry. I got ahead of myself. Did I say 21 drives into the Red Zone was impressive? Yes? OK, let me also apply the "impressive" tag to Indy's 66% touchdown rating in the Red Zone. Maybe I can also throw a "OMG! THAT'S SO VERY..." in front of "impressive" when I talk about that 66%. Any offense that converts 66% of its RedZone trips into TDs is a great offense; maybe even an all-time offense. Lots of teams can make big splash plays, even bad teams. It's damn hard in this league to score TDs in the RedZone, and the Colts continue to showcase that they are masters of RedZone offensive greatness.
So, if you want a key stat when people ask you "Why are the Colts 6-0?" I can recommend the following: The Colts offense has ventured into the RedZone 21 times, converting 66% of those 21 trips into TDs. Meanwhile, their defense has only allowed 13 trips inside their own RedZone with opposing offenses converting 46% on those trips. Also, take into account that in one game (the Titans game) the Colts shut the opponent out of the RedZone completely. Tennessee had zero trips inside Indy's RedZone.
Really folks, Larry Coyer should be getting the same love Mike Nolan is getting in Denver with the Broncos. Heck, if the Broncos hadn't fired Coyer in 2006, they probably wouldn't need Nolan.