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2014 NFL Week Nine: Inside the Colts Numbers

The Colts bounced back from the beating they took in Pittsburgh in a big way. See how dominant they were Monday night against the Giants as we go Inside the Numbers.

Jeff Zelevansky

We're now in Year 3 in the Chuck Pagano / Andrew Luck era of Colts football, and if there's one thing we've learned (there are many though), it's that they can forget about losses, even really bad ones, better than any team I've ever seen. What we saw Monday night was a complete domination of the Giants, a 40-24 win in New York, sending the Colts into their bye week on a very positive note. The Colts were cruising in the 4th quarter, giving up some points, but I'm not concerned in the least about it.

There's a saying in Las Vegas: Good teams win, Great teams cover, and here's what the Colts have done since the beginning of 2012:

That stat is now 15-1 in their last 16 games, and I'm pretty sure the "1" is the Eagles game from earlier this season. They don't just win games, they cover the spread in them as well, even as the favorite in eight of them now, including tonight as 3.5 point road favorites. Something to remember the next time we see the Colts.

I don't like to talk about "counting stats" much in this space, as the mainstream media focuses too much on it already and it's a highly flawed stat. But Andrew Luck is doing things that have been rarely seen in the NFL, thanks to the lightbulb finally going on in the coaching staff's head. Monday night was the 7th consecutive 300 yard passing game for Luck, 2nd in NFL history behind Drew Brees doing it 9 straight (twice), and tying him with that Peyton Manning guy, which he did in 2012-13. What else is Luck doing on a historical level? According to Elias:

  • It was the fifth straight 350 yard game on the road, which is an NFL record.
  • He's thrown at least 40 passes in each of his last six games, the third-longest streak of that kind in NFL history; Drew Bledsoe (1995) and Matthew Stafford (2012-13) each had seven-game streaks.
  • Not just Luck, but the Colts are the first team to score at least 40 points and gain 440 or more yards in a road game against the Giants since the Chicago Cardinals did so at the Polo Grounds in 1948.

I can't remember any coaching decision that I thought was incorrect. I loved being aggressive at the end of the first half, especially knowing they'd be getting the ball to start the second (which they need to do more of, by the way). I also thought it was correct after Luck fumbled at the end to just pack it in and take it to half. The Giants tried to gift them some additional points, but it just didn't work out. I also loved the "red alert" play on Offense after the Coby Fleener catch on the sideline, which led to the first touchdown. It's hard to tell now-a-days whether that would have been upheld (VP of Officiating Dean Blandino says it was a catch), but either way it makes the opposing team have to make a split-second decision, hoping the refs are wrong, rather than seeing a replay and knowing for sure. Still baffles me coaches keep that in their sock, but I digress. Just a random aside, but do teams carry those red flags with them, or are they in with the yellow flags? Anyone know?

The Colts scored a ton of points Monday night, but how did all of the Winning Stats look? Let's jump in and take a look.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 9:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 70.3% 13 67.6% 7 Y N 7-0
ANPY/A 9.043 3 7.073 22 N N 4-1
Turnovers 0 1 1 14 N N 5-2
Yds/Drive 29.53 14 29.20 12 Y N 5-1
ToP/Drive 2:12.2 20 1:47.8 1 N N 4-0
Yds/Play 6.239 3 5.840 19 N N 3-3
Orange Zone Eff 67.3% 12 85.7% 20 N N 7-0
First Downs/Drive 1.47 20 1.47 6 N N 5-2
3rd/4th Down 33.3% 17 27.8% 5 N N 7-1
Avg Start Pos 36.5 3 19.6 2 Y N 7-1
3 and Outs 5 22 7 1 N N 2-4
RZ Eff 71.4% 15 100.0% 19 N N 5-0
Plays/Drive 4.733 24 5.000 4 N N 5-0
Penalty Yds / Play 0.423 4 0.400 24 N N 3-2
RB Success 40.9% 17 36.8% 6 N N 2-3
Yds/Carry 4.08 11 4.45 20 N Y 0-4
Ranking - Week (26) 12 12 10
Ranking - Season (268) 126 89 99

Adjusted Stats for Week 9:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 72.0% 15 66.4% 8 Y N 7-0
ANPY/A 8.876 2 7.036 19 N N 4-1
Turnovers 0.1 1 0.7 18 N N 5-2
Yds/Drive 30.42 12 31.33 17 Y N 5-1
ToP/Drive 2:25.6 16 1:46.8 2 N N 4-0
Yds/Play 5.746 10 6.265 24 N N 3-3
Orange Zone Eff 57.4% 15 78.6% 21 N N 7-0
First Downs/Drive 1.66 14 1.35 4 N N 5-2
3rd/4th Down 41.3% 14 26.6% 5 N N 7-1
Avg Start Pos 34.5 5 18.8 1 Y N 7-1
3 and Outs 3.9 17 7.5 1 N N 2-4
RZ Eff 64.9% 19 97.2% 20 N N 5-0
Plays/Drive 5.351 16 4.896 5 N N 5-0
Penalty Yds / Play 0.300 2 0.694 17 N N 3-2
RB Success 52.3% 5 43.0% 14 N N 2-3
Yds/Carry 3.73 14 4.75 22 N Y 0-4
Ranking - Week (26) 14 13 11
Ranking - Season (268) 126 92 83

Some thoughts:

  • From a 30,000 foot view, the numbers don't seem to line up with the performance we saw, but I actually think the Colts struggled for most of the first half on Offense, and gave up two late, garbage-time TDs in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately we have no way of filtering that out, so it still counts against the Colts. A future enhancement, but for now that's why the Defense only looks middle-of-the-pack for the week.
  • No Turnovers! It certainly wasn't for lack of trying though, so there are still issues. Luck should have easily had one intercepted, and the kid really needs to learn to eat the ball sometimes. Don't just wing the ball in the air when falling to the ground, as more times than not that'll be six the other way. Live to fight another day. Then there was the play at the end of the half, Griff Whalen fumbled a punt return and jumped on it, and the botched handoff where I think Dwayne Allen was supposed to get handoff, paid no attention to it, and it bounced right the Ahmad Bradshaw for a 10 yard gain. Let's hope they keep working to clean this stuff up before their next game.
  • The Colts kicked four field goals, which was three too many for my blood. The Giants have struggled stopping teams in close all season, yet the Colts just kept coming up short, as you can see by the Orange/Red Zone numbers. Can't kick field goals and expect to beat the Patriots or Broncos, but being able to score points on almost every drive is a big plus, which they did Monday.
  • Passing stat was tremendous, even with 40+ attempts. All you'll hear about from the media are the yards. This stat tells you they weren't wasted yards.
  • Also some praise for the RB Success Rate, getting over 52% on the night. I actually think the Colts ran the ball particular well last night, the few times they did it early, as well as when the game was in hand with Trent Richardson and Bradshaw. Build the lead with passing, ice the game away with running.
  • The Defense got back to stopping other teams dead in their tracks on 3rd/4th Down, ranking 5th on the weekend. Some good pressure, good coverage, bad throws, and drops were all part of the nice bounce-back performance.
  • The Colts also forced seven Three and Outs, best on the weekend. What else was best of the weekend? Field Position, which the Colts are leading the NFL on the season. These two definitely go hand-in-hand, as teams aren't as comfortable opening up the whole playbook when they are deep in their own territory. Special teams, once again, were spectacular, and has made an incredible difference for this team.
  • Only forced one field goal on four Red Zone trips. This is why I'm worried about the Patriots. It seems once teams get a first down against the Colts, they really aren't stopped. It's worrisome against the good Offenses, of which the Giants are not.

Season Stats through Week 9:

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 75.6% 4 Broncos 66.1% 6 Dolphins 56-4 0.933
ANPY/A 7.155 4 Broncos 5.573 16 Dolphins 63-7 0.900
Turnovers 1.95 21 Patriots 1.78 12 Dolphins 65-16 0.802
Yds/Drive 35.42 3 Saints 28.38 13 Broncos 56-8 0.875
ToP/Drive 2:56.0 6 Chiefs 2:11.0 1 Colts 63-11 0.851
Yds/Play 5.907 3 Broncos 5.416 20 Dolphins 50-19 0.725
Orange Zone Eff 56.7% 13 Broncos 58.5% 26 Dolphins 39-13 0.750
First Downs/Drive 2.01 3 Saints 1.54 11 Dolphins 51-10 0.836
3rd/4th Down 43.5% 8 Cowboys 28.6% 1 Colts 59-12 0.831
Avg Start Pos 31.7 8 Dolphins 24.9 1 Colts 62-7 0.899
3 and Outs 3.33 12 Ravens 5.12 1 Colts 39-14 0.736
RZ Eff 63.1% 21 Raiders 71.9% 26 Ravens 34-21 0.618
Plays/Drive 6.021 6 Chiefs 5.114 6 Giants 45-12 0.789
Penalty Yds / Play 0.698 7 Jaguars 0.771 20 Saints 36-25 0.590
RB Success 45.5% 11 Dolphins 45.8% 23 Giants 29-37 0.439
Yds/Carry 4.19 12 Seahawks 4.73 27 Lions 25-37 0.403
Overall 5 Chiefs 8 Dolphins

Some thoughts:

  • The Offense as a whole stays put at 5th overall, but we saw improvements in Turnovers and 3rd/4th Downs, as well as in both the passing and rushing stats.
  • The Defense adds two more stats to best in the NFL, Three and Outs and 3rd/4th Down (again), and moves up two spots overall to 8th.
  • For 2014, Passing the ball / stopping the pass is about as important as starting field position, making the improvement by the Colts in this area so critical. This should be celebrated after so many years of neglect and disregard.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Broncos 174 227 222 102 140 103
2 Eagles 133 176 158 84 203 150
3 Jaguars 4 83 11 4 183 50
4 Titans 22 20 4 32 46 21
5 Ravens 102 15 28 105 18 27
6 Texans 53 100 51 52 138 72
7 Bengals 110 11 24 108 8 16
8 Steelers 98 261 216 101 256 210
9 Giants 126 89 99 126 92 83

I said last week I thought the Steelers game would be an anomaly, and for now it still looks to be the case. While not as statistically dominating as the Bengals, Titans, or Ravens game, the scoreboard certainly told a different story. It's a very good sign when your team scores 40 points and actually doesn't play that well.

Now the Colts get two weeks to prepare for the most important game on their schedule. According to the Winning Stats, only the Broncos are a better team than the Colts. After an 0-2 start, I think we can all live with that.