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2010 Colts Defense: How Much Better Were They At Home?

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Last week, Colts DE Dwight Freeney was on NFL Network, and he talked about how the Colts defense was "inconsistent" last season. After reading about what he said, it got me re-thinking about something that I noticed during the season last year: The Colts Defense looked like two completely different teams when they played inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and when they played on the road. Is that really the inconsistency Freeney was referring to, because it seemed obvious to me watching the games.

What better way to find out then to look at the Winning Stats from last season, and see just what they had to say when we split up teams between Home and Away. In order to get the proper perspective, each team was looked at from Home/Away, then I adjusted based on those splits. For example, the Patriots defense had the 5th easiest home schedule, so their adjusted numbers won't look as good as their raw number. On the flip side, when they went on the road, it was ranked 12th toughest, so the raw numbers get a small boost, because they played a tougher schedule. It essentially puts all teams on a level playing field, and only takes into account when their opponents played in a similar situation.

Before you jump into the numbers, I ask that you answer a quick question for me on what you think the difference in rankings the Colts will have between Home and Away. Please answer before continuing on, just so we can see what people's perception was of the 2010 Colts Defense.

Here are the stats, both unadjusted and adjusted, for you to digest. I'll mostly comment on the adjusted numbers, as those are the more important numbers, since they paint a better, and more fair, picture.

Non-Adjusted Stats:

Statistic Home Away
Defense Rank Best Defense Rank Best
DSR 67.7% 13 Jets 75.5% 29 Bears
ANPY/A 5.685 17 Packers 6.415 24 Bears
Turnovers 1.75 15 Giants 0.88 31 Patriots
Yds/Drive 28.27 14 Jets 34.69 29 Bears
ToP/Drive 2:45.5 22 Jets 2:51.5 27 Giants
Yds/Play 5.114 14 Jets 5.693 26 Steelers
First Downs/Drive 1.64 17 Jets 1.98 29 Bears
3rd/4th Down 34.3% 6 Raiders 44.2% 29 Giants
Avg Start Pos 28.2 10 Falcons 29.4 11 Titans
3 and Outs 4.50 8 Jets 3.00 24 Chargers
RZ Eff 62.4% 13 Cardinals 71.9% 24 Dolphins
Plays/Drive 5.528 17 Jets 6.094 31 Raiders
Penalty Yds / Play 0.648 28 Falcons 0.952 8 Raiders
RB Success 51.0% 28 Jets 55.8% 31 Steelers
Yds/Carry 4.06 13 Jets 5.04 31 Steelers
Net Punts Yds/Game 41.20 30 Bears 41.25 25 Patriots
Overall 15 Jets 31 Bears

Adjusted Stats:

Statistic Home Away
Defense Rank Best Defense Rank Best
DSR 64.5% 5 Jets 74.1% 31 Ravens
ANPY/A 4.867 11 Jets 5.748 19 Ravens
Turnovers 1.59 21 Giants 0.77 31 Patriots
Yds/Drive 25.20 5 Jets 32.83 28 Giants
ToP/Drive 2:44.0 28 Giants 2:59.0 28 Giants
Yds/Play 4.647 8 Jets 5.149 16 Steelers
First Downs/Drive 1.48 6 Jets 1.96 31 Giants
3rd/4th Down 30.7% 1 Colts 47.0% 31 Giants
Avg Start Pos 30.7 16 Falcons 31.8 19 Titans
3 and Outs 4.90 4 Jets 3.39 23 Ravens
RZ Eff 51.8% 4 Jets 73.4% 25 Dolphins
Plays/Drive 5.419 14 Jets 6.174 31 Giants
Penalty Yds / Play 0.726 28 Falcons 0.899 11 Raiders
RB Success 49.8% 27 Jets 52.4% 28 Steelers
Yds/Carry 4.04 15 Titans 4.40 20 Steelers
Net Punts Yds/Game 39.89 24 Bears 40.44 25 Patriots
Overall 6 Jets 29 Ravens

Some thoughts:

  • For those of you that chose "21-28 Spots Apart", you win 5 Schrute Bucks. Now, going into this, like I said above, I knew the Colts played better defense at home last year. I just didn't know it was that much better. They were among the tops in the league playing in front of the home crowd. The same clearly cannot be said when they ventured outside of Indiana.
  • You'll notice I bolded and placed in red a statistic I never thought I'd see: The Colts were best in the league at home on 3rd and 4th down. Yes, the numbers are correct. I'm happy when they perform just average, but this makes me ecstatic. It's not very often we Colts' fans can point to a defensive stat and say the Colts were best in the league, so I'll take any qualifiers I can. That's great and all, but...
  • What in the world happened on the road? They gave up over 16% more conversions on the road, which was good enough for second worst in the league. Freeney also mentioned something about being in too many 3rd and short situations, but that isn't the case. The Colts faced 34 3rd and Shorts at home, while only facing 30 on the road. I have no reasons, at least now, but it shows just how frustrating away games were last year.
  • You can see the other drive-related stats were more of the same, including Drive Success Rate and Yards / Drive, both of which the Colts were great at LOS, but couldn't get opponents off the field on the road. It isn't a matter of opponents either, as we've adjusted that out, plus the strength of schedule was equally difficult for both (6th toughest at home, 5th toughest on road).
  • Despite the fact the Colts got teams off the field at home, opponents still ate up chunks of time on each drive, presumably by running the ball a lot and completing short passes. Some things just never change...
  • I like the Red Zone numbers as well at home, only giving up about half the possible points that their opponent could have gotten. It's too bad they couldn't have stopped the 4 Pick-Sixes against the Cowboys and Chargers.
  • I can't point to anything on the away side that was a positive, which is very disappointing, especially since half the away schedule is the same as last year. They do get another game in a dome when they go to New Orleans, which might be a nice confidence booster. Surely they won't need any extra motivation that night.

On Tuesday I'll take a look at the offense, where I found equally surprising data, although I really shouldn't have been.