You're never as good as your best game, and you're never as bad as your worst game.
I know you've all heard the above cliche, but after watching the Colts over the last two weeks, it seems quite appropriate. Sunday was a forgettable day for the Colts Defense, a 51-34 drubbing in Pittsburgh that started off bad, looked like it could get very interesting, then they literally fell flat on their backside, ending any chance they had at pulling off a miracle.
There was a lot of talk Monday about how this team seemingly just doesn't show up for games, and I heard both the Rams and Cardinals games from last year as examples. But I don't think Sunday's game falls into that category. Last year those two games were complete team failures where nobody showed up. It was as if nobody prepared for the game, thought they'd walk in and dominate, and they just curled up into the fetal position and said "see you next week." I didn't see that on Sunday, as I thought the Offense didn't play terrible and showed some flashes at times. Yes, we saw more turnovers (more on that later), and we saw Andrew Luck get hit on almost every play, but we saw a rookie WR step up in a big way, and we saw no quit in them (we rarely do) and they actually delivered points, unlike last year's two blowouts. I just don't see those games being equivalent, even though the outcome was largely the same.
We talked last week about the Colts playing the best Defensive game they've played since 2001, and it was fantastic, but they obviously came crashing from orbit and went about 2500 feet into the earth's surface Sunday. Before last Sunday against the Bengals, the best Defensive game we saw was in 2008 against the Ravens, a 31-3 beatdown. What happened the next week? The Colts went into Green Bay and got pasted 34-14. The similarities don't end there, however, as the following week they played a road game on Monday night football against the Titans, losing in that game as well 31-21. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself again in six nights.
I'm not going to go into the litany of records/accomplishments Ben Roethlisberger set yesterday as Josh already sent us through that pain once, but one could argue that it was the best passing day ever in NFL history. <soapbox>This is why the Passer Rating stat is absurd. His performance yesterday wasn't "perfect", but this game by Roethlisberger was "perfect". It's awful and needs to be put out to pasture.</soapbox> Maybe it's dinging him for that awful attempt at a pooch punt that worked out nicely for the Colts right before the half.
The only thing I'm truly disappointed in is the halftime adjustments really did nothing, something that's been a constant throughout this current coaching staff's run. Even when they'd get boatraced in the first half of games, we'd see them stop the opposing Offense in the 2nd half to allow a furious comeback to happen. We saw a couple turnovers yesterday (thanks DHB!) that the Colts capitalized on, but otherwise the Steelers did whatever they wanted from start to finish Sunday. The numbers are ugly.
OK, I lied, one more disappointing thing, but it is math related. When you're down 22 points (like the Colts were at 42-20), and you score a touchdown anytime in the second half, you absolutely must go for 2 right away, no matter what, and it's easy math:
Scenario 1 - Go for 2 on first TD: If you make it, you're down 14, down two conventional touchdowns + XPs, and right where you want to be. You needed a 2 at some point, so it's done and out of the way. If you miss the 2, you're down 16, which is still attainable with two TDs. This obviously means you'd have to be successful on two 2 point tries, but you knew you had to get at least one to tie on three TDs anyway. Basically now, you have to make 2 out of 3 (since you missed the first).
Scenario 2 - Wait to go for 2 on last TD: Now you have to get the 2 on your one try, or you have to get points some other way, so you have to be 100% on your one try. There's no room for error. Why do this to yourself when a much easier path is available.
If you're flipping a coin, do you want it just on one flip, or do you want best 2 out of 3? In Scenario 1, you have a 63% chance on tying the game on just 3 scores, while in Scenario 2 you have just a 50% chance (assuming a coin flip to convert). See what I mean? Math can be useful in everyday things.
Want to see some not-so-nice numbers? It's bad folks, but be honest, you knew that before reading this, right? Let's go.
Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 8:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||69.4%||12||71.4%||20||N||N||3-1|
|Avg Start Pos||24.1||18||21.5||6||N||N||6-0|
|3 and Outs||4||21||2||18||N||Y||3-1|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.754||15||0.728||17||N||N||4-2|
|Ranking - Week (30)||11||28||24|
|Ranking - Season (242)||89||235||193|
Adjusted Stats for Week 8:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||68.5%||11||75.9%||24||N||N||3-1|
|Avg Start Pos||25.5||17||23.8||10||N||N||6-0|
|3 and Outs||3.9||23||2.7||14||N||Y||3-1|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.699||8||0.482||27||N||N||4-2|
|Ranking - Week (30)||14||29||28|
|Ranking - Season (242)||97||230||193|
- I'm going to be honest: It's actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, we've seen seven games just since 2012 that have numbers worse than this, so it isn't time to completely panic yet. Obviously still an awful performance, but we've unfortunately seen that far too many times with the Colts Defense over the years.
- What saved them? The Turnovers were a huge part, getting the two fumbles allowed the Colts to have the ball down just one score. They weren't stopping the Steelers otherwise, so I'm glad they found some way of doing it.
- Even with the Steelers starting drives deeper than most teams this weekend, it really didn't matter, as they played pretty much a perfect game. All those numbers up top, save the Turnovers, are video game numbers. Sometimes you just tip your cap and move on, trying to correct glaring mistakes.
- I have to mention the 3rd/4th downs, as they were the 2nd worst in the league this week. I said Thursday the 4-for-41 was definitely not sustainable, but they could have at least kept it in the 40% range. Again, I think Sunday was the anomaly, but we'll find out going forward.
- The Offense hit big plays, which I thought they would, averaging over seven Yards per Play. Unfortunately it was a lot of big chunk plays, then strings of nothing, leading to punts / field goals that didn't do much. Little more consistency would be good.
- This weekend was apparently really good for scoring touchdowns, as a 70% efficiency in the Red Zone was good for just 17th best.
- The Colts now have 15 Turnovers on the season, which is 25th in the league, and is becoming a real problem. Remember how many the Colts had after eight games last year? Just six. I know it comes with throwing the ball a lot more, but the interceptions and the fumbles have to stop.
- Cause for celebration? The Colts ran the ball well and stopped the run! Just think what the score would have been if they didn't do those things so well!
Season Stats through Week 8 (Adjusted):
|Orange Zone Eff||60.3%||9||Broncos||58.1%||24||Ravens||32-13||0.711|
|Avg Start Pos||31.1||13||Bengals||25.2||1||Colts||55-6||0.902|
|3 and Outs||3.15||10||Cowboys||4.72||5||Eagles||37-10||0.787|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.769||14||Jaguars||0.798||17||Eagles||33-23||0.589|
- The Offense drops from 2nd to 5th, and we've already talked about the eye sore that is the Turnover problem. Everything else is very good and can't find much fault at all. Cut down on Turnovers it's an excellent unit.
- The Defense falls from 5th to 10th, but still lead the NFL in a couple of the stats, and still are 2nd in 3rd/4th Down. It isn't like they forgot how to do these things, so I expect them to bounce back. A four game sample, even against some bad teams, is more of a sample size than one game.
- Winning at Field Position means winning games 90% of the time this year, which is way better than historically (about 77%).
So much for that continual improvement, huh? Look, it was a stinker of a game against an average team, so it's going to look bad, and will continue to look bad after that nice five game stretch. You can see that the Jaguars game now sits as the best Offensive game of the season so far, even besting what the Steelers (and Patriots) did Sunday.
The Colts peaked after their 7th game last year (Broncos), and were never the same team the rest of the year. Let's hope they learned from that last year and bounce back, rather than repeating history once again.