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Colts 2010 Season Review: Winning Stats Edition

Now that the season is officially over, and we've had a Football-less Sunday (although College Basketball is filling the void), it's time to look back on 2010 and see how different it was from the previous 9 years.  As most of you know if you've been around the blog long enough, we've based the Winning Stats off of data going all the way back to 2001, so we have a huge sample of data to work with. 

What I want to start with today is a look at the season as a whole for both the Colts, as well as the NFL. I'll look at both the Offense and Defense of the Colts today, and we'll be able to tell exactly what the Colts improved on in 2010 (hint: not much), and how much they regressed (some really bad).  Then tomorrow we'll look at the NFL in general, see how different the numbers are from historical averages, and draw some conclusions about 2010.

Let's get to the numbers...

2001-09 Colts vs. 2010 Colts:

Statistic 2001-09 2010 Pct. Diff
Offense Defense Offense Defense Offense Defense
DSR 77.3% 71.5% 76.7% 71.7% -0.75% -0.31%
ANPY/A 7.266 5.211 6.471 6.058 -10.94% -16.26%
Turnovers 1.42 1.83 1.56 1.31 -9.76% -28.41%
Yds/Drive 35.71 30.86 35.63 31.41 -0.23% -1.77%
ToP/Drive 2:54.2 2:54.6 2:47.9 2:48.5 -2.48% 2.40%
Yds/Play 5.816 5.230 5.594 5.411 -3.82% -3.46%
First Downs/Drive 2.13 1.81 2.14 1.80 0.29% 0.11%
3rd/4th Down 47.9% 43.1% 45.3% 39.4% -5.37% 8.42%
Avg Start Pos 30.6 30.8 27.6 28.8 -9.63% 6.52%
3 and Outs 2.67 3.14 2.94 3.75 -9.87% 19.47%
RZ Eff 71.7% 65.6% 80.1% 68.2% 11.67% -3.89%
Plays/Drive 6.140 5.901 6.368 5.805 3.73% 1.63%
Penalty Yds / Play 0.663 0.796 0.651 0.804 1.85% 1.06%
RB Success 50.6% 49.0% 46.3% 53.4% -8.55% -8.93%
Yds/Carry 3.86 4.48 3.77 4.57 -2.23% -2.02%
Net Punts Yds/Game 37.78 39.48 37.83 41.22 0.12% -4.43%

Let's start with the positives. Improvements in 2010:

  • Defensive Three and Outs had a great improvement in 2010, up almost 20%, which translates to forcing an extra Three and Out every two games. Their ranking this year was 17th, so they were right around average for the league. It would be great if they can repeat that in 2011.
  • Offensive Red Zone Efficiency was tops in the NFL in 2010, scoring over 80% of their possible points in the Red Zone.  It's scoring 2 TDs for every FG kicked, which is damn good. I don't expect the Colts to sustain this in 2011, but it would be nice if they could.  
  • 3rd/4th Down Defense was also a pretty good improvement over past history, which was great to see.  I'll be going more in-depth into this in the next week or two, so I won't talk too much about this.  Their overall ranking was 20th, so there is still some room for improvement.

It's sad, but that's really it for significant improvements.  Here's the lowlights:

  • I'm going to start with Turnovers, which the defense had the worst number in the table, dropping almost 30% from their historical average.  I'm guessing some of you would have expected this to be on the other side of the ball, with all the interceptions thrown in the middle of the season.  Truth is, the Colts defense really had a hard time forcing turnovers in 2010, making their job, as well as the offenses, that much more difficult.  The offense was also well below their average, and that three game stretch with 11 turnovers is clearly to blame.
  • While the defense improved greatly on Three and Outs, the Offense had problems getting that first First Down of a series, down almost 10%.  It put a struggling defense out on the field more than they probably should have been.
  • RB Success Rate, both Offense and Defense, weren't as good as history tells us the Colts have been.  I talked about this throughout the season, but when the Colts weren't winning, they had awful RB Success Rate numbers. To be fair, though, the historical numbers from 2001-09 are best in the NFL, so this isn't all doom and gloom, but the three games where Peyton Manning threw the 11 interceptions, the Colts were dead last in RB Success Rate, at 34%.
  • Surprisingly enough, an already terrible stat for the Colts got even worse in 2010, and that's Average Starting Position. I really don't know what it will take to get the Front Office's attention, but this is really a problem for the Colts. This isn't all Special Teams, though.  Those lack of Turnovers caused by the Defense plays into this as well.
  • Last, we get to, in my opinion, the most important stat in Football: Adjusted Net Passing Yards / Attempt, where the Colts flat out weren't very good this year. Again, the historical average is best in the NFL (like almost every other offensive stat is), so a little bit of regression isn't that bad.  However, this was the worst season since 2002, and a full adjusted yard per attempt less than 2009.  The Colts absolutely must get this stat back over 7.0 Adjusted Yards / Attempt to compete for the Super Bowl.
  • Like the Offense, but even worse, was the Defense defending the pass, dropping over 16% from their average. Interceptions play into this, so that is a big reason for the poor numbers. This was the 2nd worst season in defending the pass in the past 10 years, only better than 2001.  In fact, the Colts hadn't even been over 5.0 Adjusted Yards / Attempt since 2004. This is a quick fix area for the Colts, as I think 2010 is an anomaly. Healthy starters will fix this stat without any extra effort, in turn giving the Colts more wins.  Remember, when both Offense and Defense are above average in this stat, teams win 90% of the time.  Hard to argue with.