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2014 AFC Championship: Inside the Colts Numbers

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Let's take one last look at the AFC Championship, then drink away our sorrows until after the Super Bowl.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that went exactly opposite the plan we all wanted, eh?

The Colts were completely outmatched, outplayed, and outcoached in a 45-7 pasting at the hands of the Patriots Sunday, and it was just as ugly as the score indicated. In fact, it's the first game of the last three against the Patriots where the score accurately showed how the game went. In the last two the Colts seemed to hang around later into the game, even though they were being dominated in much the same way as they were Sunday. Maybe this is finally the game where the coaching staff and the players get the fact there is an abyss between them and the Patriots.

The Colts did have one big-boy drive of 93 yards in the middle of the 2nd quarter, a glimmer of hope after a nice interception by D'Qwell Jackson, that cut the lead to 14-7, and the Defense made a mini-stand inside the 10 yard line, holding them to a field goal just before the half, making the halftime lead just 17-7. But just like in Week 11, the Patriots scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives to open the second half, and the game was over before the end of the third quarter. It certainly reinforces the notion that it's always better to defer the opening coin toss (like the Patriots did), as you can put a team away before they have any chance of mounting a comeback.

I talked Thursday about how I was interested to see the Chess match between the Patriots Offense and Colts Defense, and I didn't know which strategy either team would employ. Well, the Patriots had the exact same gameplan as we've seen the last two years against the Colts, and the Colts employed the exact same gameplan we've seen the last two years against the Patriots. Unless the coaching staff subscribes to a different definition of insanity than the rest of the world, we saw exactly what should have been expected. Maybe next time they'll put an extra defender in the box and force the receivers to beat them deep, rather than letting them go unattended over the middle. Or we'll all just go insane again...

I'll show you the numbers for completeness, but they are pretty much a carbon-copy of the Playoff game there a year ago:

Non-Adjusted Stats for the AFC Championship:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 66.7% 3 89.5% 4 N Y 2-0
ANPY/A 1.091 4 6.528 4 N Y 1-0
Turnovers 3 3 1 4 N Y 1-0
Yds/Drive 20.90 4 39.70 4 N Y 1-0
ToP/Drive 2:13.1 3 3:46.9 4 N Y 1-0
Yds/Play 4.019 4 5.224 3 N N 1-0
Orange Zone Eff 50.0% 3 80.4% 3 N Y 2-0
First Downs/Drive 1.70 2 2.80 4 N N 0-0
3rd/4th Down 27.3% 3 70.0% 4 N Y 2-0
Avg Start Pos 21.9 4 43.3 4 N Y 1-1
3 and Outs 4 3 2 4 N Y 1-1
RZ Eff 100.0% 1 91.8% 3 N N 1-0
Plays/Drive 5.200 2 7.600 4 N Y 1-0
Penalty Yds / Play 0.442 1 0.592 2 N N 0-0
RB Success 47.1% 3 61.5% 4 N N 1-0
Yds/Carry 4.37 4 4.43 2 N N 0-0
Ranking - Week (4) 4 4 4
Ranking - Season (532) 475 502 526

Adjusted Stats for the AFC Championship:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 67.7% 3 83.0% 4 N Y 2-0
ANPY/A 1.550 4 5.443 4 N Y 1-0
Turnovers 2.8 3 1.7 4 N Y 1-0
Yds/Drive 21.62 4 34.92 4 N Y 1-0
ToP/Drive 2:12.8 3 3:38.0 4 N Y 1-0
Yds/Play 4.167 4 5.011 3 N N 1-0
Orange Zone Eff 53.7% 3 69.2% 3 N Y 2-0
First Downs/Drive 1.64 2 2.37 4 N N 0-0
3rd/4th Down 29.8% 3 62.2% 4 N Y 2-0
Avg Start Pos 24.9 4 40.0 4 N Y 1-1
3 and Outs 4.1 3 2.6 4 N Y 1-1
RZ Eff 101.2% 1 81.0% 3 N N 1-0
Plays/Drive 5.174 2 6.954 4 N Y 1-0
Penalty Yds / Play 0.589 1 0.484 4 N N 0-0
RB Success 47.9% 3 59.9% 4 N N 1-0
Yds/Carry 4.70 3 4.77 4 N N 0-0
Ranking - Week (4) 3 4 4
Ranking - Season (532) 466 426 504

Some thoughts:

  • With only four teams playing this week, seeing so many "4"s in the rank columns isn't a good thing, is it? This was the worst Playoff game of 2014 (yes, even worse than the Cardinals vs. the Panthers), as well as the worst Defensive effort of the Playoffs. Never had a chance. It was still better than 41-0 though, so yay?
  • You aren't beating very many teams, let alone a Super Bowl team, when you average just 1.5 yards per play through the air. It was less than what the Seahawks did earlier on Sunday, which I thought was damn near impossible (2.2 yards).
  • There was a huge disparity on Starting Field Position (15 yards per drive!), which has led to bad things in 2014, and always has in the Playoffs. Can't give other teams short fields (unless you have a historically great Defense Seahawks) and expect to win.
  • The Colts succeeded in their lone trip in the Red Zone. One shining moment...
  • It's eerie how close these numbers are to the Playoff game last year against the Patriots. In all Playoff games since 2001 they ranked 282 (last) vs. 278 on Offense, 275 (last) vs. 284 on Defense, and 300 (last) vs. 299 overall out of 306 games. Two historically awful Playoff performances all-around.

Season Stats through AFC Championship (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 72.0% 10 Packers 66.3% 4 Bills 117-8 0.936
ANPY/A 6.578 6 Packers 5.357 12 Bills 134-13 0.912
Turnovers 2.19 30 Packers 1.70 20 Bills 125-33 0.791
Yds/Drive 31.36 12 Packers 27.36 6 Bills 108-20 0.844
ToP/Drive 2:38.0 21 Cowboys 2:28.0 3 Bills 112-26 0.812
Yds/Play 5.700 7 Packers 5.002 6 Seahawks 101-30 0.771
Orange Zone Eff 57.0% 12 Patriots 58.9% 26 Rams 76-24 0.760
First Downs/Drive 1.75 14 Saints 1.58 7 Bills 99-23 0.811
3rd/4th Down 40.1% 14 Patriots 34.5% 4 Bills 118-26 0.819
Avg Start Pos 30.4 15 Patriots 28.4 6 Patriots 126-21 0.857
3 and Outs 3.96 22 Dolphins 4.76 3 Bills 79-32 0.712
RZ Eff 68.3% 11 Raiders 69.0% 24 Rams 80-41 0.661
Plays/Drive 5.537 20 Patriots 5.354 5 Bills 82-25 0.766
Penalty Yds / Play 0.766 11 Jaguars 0.759 22 Redskins 72-46 0.610
RB Success 41.8% 23 Dolphins 47.5% 27 Lions 59-64 0.480
Yds/Carry 3.92 19 Seahawks 4.57 27 Lions 64-66 0.492
Overall 13 Packers 8 Bills

Week-to-Week Comparisons:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Broncos 291 458 428 191 355 265
2 Eagles 244 359 316 179 421 339
3 Jaguars 5 180 22 10 391 109
4 Titans 38 54 8 107 151 84
5 Ravens 191 47 53 177 39 37
6 Texans 89 208 98 95 291 137
7 Bengals 214 21 40 155 14 16
8 Steelers 183 519 426 218 515 440
9 Giants 235 189 184 264 198 210
10 BYE
11 Patriots 227 514 442 235 492 428
12 Jaguars 289 13 55 314 58 121
13 Redskins 173 212 168 136 299 182
14 Browns 448 20 188 446 75 245
15 Texans 371 88 197 360 82 176
16 Cowboys 511 490 528 521 404 522
17 Titans 283 37 85 392 93 204
18 Bengals 134 134 79 88 158 74
19 Broncos 217 142 134 128 65 39
20 Patriots 475 502 526 466 426 504

Sunday didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about the 2014 Colts; namely, that when the opposing QB was in the upper-echelon (and not injured), the Colts were hopeless on Defense. Add in a putrid passing day, and you get what we saw in Foxboro. I know we all hoped the Colts had turned a corner after the Broncos game, but I think it showed just how injured Peyton Manning was (and how poor of a gameplan they had). It's clear there's still a long way to go for the Colts, even just one step away from the Super Bowl.

The sting of losing that bad to a team we all despise can be a tough pill to swallow. But the Colts, for the third straight year, advanced one step farther in the Playoffs than the previous year. They won all the game they were supposed to win, and really struggled against top-tier QBs. Hopefully these games are where the coaching staff starts work this offseason, as you can't win in today's NFL if you can't stop Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Ben Roethlisberger.

On the whole, however, 2014 was a very successful season for the Colts, even though it fell short of the ultimate goal. Let's all hope they build on it, continuing the practice of going farther each season.