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2015 NFL Week 5: Inside the Colts Numbers - Offense Not Offensive

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Led by a 40 year old QB with a stomach virus, the Colts easily played their best Offensive game of the season last Thursday against the Texans, essentially putting their foot on the throats of the rest of the AFC South.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know about you, but the Colts 27-20 win over the Texans last Thursday night seems like an eternity ago. In all honesty, it feels that way every year after a Colts Thursday game, even though they are easily the league's best team at playing on short rest, despite being forced to play on the road nearly every single time over the last 15 years. The win got the Colts to 3-2, knocked the Texans to 1-4, and coupled with the Titans loss to the Bills gives the Colts a 2 game lead in the AFC South.

I, like a lot of you I'm sure, didn't think the Colts had much chance to win once we found out that Andrew Luck was going to sit his second consecutive game, and when we found out that Matt Hasselbeck had been in the hospital as late as Tuesday night getting IVs for a stomach virus it became even more dicey. But the Offensive game plan, without any practice with a QB this week, was superb, and this Colts team was spectacular against an above average NFL Defense which includes a guy many consider to be the best football player in the entire NFL, J.J. Watt. We'll get to the numbers in a bit, but you're all going to be very happy with the output.

Even without the virus, it's a testament to Matt Hasselbeck that the Colts have won both games he started, no matter the opponent (yes I know they were both bad teams). I'm trying to think of another backup QB that has won a game this year, especially in a year with several big-name QBs going down, but I don't think any of them have. Winning in the NFL is not easy with a starter in the bottom third of the league (just ask the Texans), let alone with a 40 year old backup who hadn't played any meaningful football since 2012. And he played really well Thursday.

There were two plays Thursday that made me smile, if only because Chuck Pagano played the percentages correctly in key situations, they both worked out (outcome is semi-meaningless in terms of the correct decision was made), and the Colts benefited from it. The first, a 4th and 1 from the Texans 44 midway through the 2nd quarter, which they converted on a speed option throw to Andre Johnson, which was checked to at the line, led to an Adam Vinatieri FG that put them up 13-0. The second was the last non-kneel play the Colts had with 1:37 remaining and the Colts facing 3rd and 6. They could have run it into the line again, most likely not getting the first down while running the clock, and the Texans would have gotten the ball back one more time, with another chance for Jaelen Strong to inexplicably come wide open. Instead, the Colts went deep down the left sideline, T.Y. Hilton beat his guy, and Hasselbeck put the ball in a perfect spot to be caught. Ball game over.

For the first time this year, you should be excited to see the stats. Single digit ranks galore. Let's go.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 5:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 80.6% 3 78.8% 24 N N 6-0
ANPY/A 8.724 4 7.429 20 N N 3-0
Turnovers 0 1 2 7 Y N 4-2
Yds/Drive 35.89 8 49.33 27 N N 4-1
ToP/Drive 3:03.7 8 3:36.3 28 N N 4-3
Yds/Play 5.475 15 6.343 23 N N 5-0
Orange Zone Eff 77.1% 5 46.4% 6 Y N 4-1
First Downs/Drive 2.44 5 2.67 26 N N 6-3
3rd/4th Down 33.3% 18 52.9% 24 N Y 5-4
Avg Start Pos 32.3 6 19.0 5 Y N 6-0
3 and Outs 1 5 1 21 N N 3-2
RZ Eff 85.7% 8 47.6% 6 Y N 4-3
Plays/Drive 6.556 8 7.778 27 N N 7-4
Penalty Yds / Play 1.102 16 1.786 3 N N 5-5
RB Success 33.3% 23 48.1% 18 N Y 3-5
Yds/Carry 3.67 16 2.93 5 N N 5-6
Ranking - Week (28) 4 23 11
Ranking - Season (154) 19 119 58

Adjusted Stats for Week 5:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 82.2% 2 83.5% 26 N N 6-0
ANPY/A 7.022 9 8.980 25 N N 3-0
Turnovers 1.6 15 1.5 15 Y N 4-2
Yds/Drive 40.62 3 50.70 27 N N 4-1
ToP/Drive 3:10.2 7 3:57.7 28 N N 4-3
Yds/Play 5.716 14 6.962 28 N N 5-0
Orange Zone Eff 74.0% 7 56.3% 14 Y N 4-1
First Downs/Drive 2.66 3 2.70 27 N N 6-3
3rd/4th Down 43.8% 12 55.5% 26 N Y 5-4
Avg Start Pos 26.4 14 25.6 13 Y N 6-0
3 and Outs 0.9 4 -0.1 28 N N 3-2
RZ Eff 82.5% 11 67.3% 14 Y N 4-3
Plays/Drive 7.186 4 7.430 27 N N 7-4
Penalty Yds / Play 0.986 13 1.872 2 N N 5-5
RB Success 44.5% 16 56.6% 28 N Y 3-5
Yds/Carry 4.28 14 3.51 6 N N 5-6
Ranking - Week (28) 3 26 20
Ranking - Season (154) 18 144 92

Some thoughts:

  • NO TURNOVERS! AND THEY FORCED TWO AT CRITICAL TIMES! Amazing how much easier the game gets with advantages like that.
  • The Drive Stats all look excellent, easily ranking in the top 10 this week in almost every one of them. They were able to move the ball really well. We do see a bit of a struggle on 3rd/4th down, which means the Colts did a good job on 1st/2nd down in moving the ball, which is always the preferred way to drive down the field.
  • I did not think penalties would play a factor, as the Texans hadn't been penalized much coming into the game, but boy did they ever commit some dumb penalties to keep drives alive for the Colts. I remember one or two that were highly questionable, but then the Colts had the same ticky-tack ones called on them, so the bad evens out with the bad I guess.
  • Also, for the second straight week, the Colts absolutely won the field position battle, starting on average at the 32 while forcing the Texans to start inside the 20. It's a stat that is sometimes overlooked but has been very good at predicting success since the start of last season.
  • The Defense didn't put up much resistance between the 20s, especially when it came to stopping DeAndre Hopkins, but they did a really good job limiting points, intercepting the Texans twice in the Red Zone (although the 2nd doesn't officially count as such).
  • As you'd expect the Orange/Red Zone Efficiency stats looked good, but were tempered a bit based on how bad the Texans Offense has been scoring points.
  • Let's all forget the last second of the first halftime and never mention it again. Glad it ended up not mattering.

Season Stats through Week 5 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 74.2% 6 Patriots 75.3% 29 Jets 27-3 0.900
ANPY/A 5.267 18 Bengals 7.690 28 Broncos 31-2 0.939
Turnovers 2.96 32 Steelers 0.89 26 Jets 31-9 0.775
Yds/Drive 34.26 7 Patriots 40.05 31 Jets 23-7 0.767
ToP/Drive 2:34.0 21 Cowboys 3:13.0 30 Falcons 28-15 0.651
Yds/Play 5.725 7 Patriots 6.215 29 Jets 26-5 0.839
Orange Zone Eff 57.3% 12 Cardinals 47.1% 9 Eagles 31-5 0.861
First Downs/Drive 2.08 3 Patriots 2.09 28 Jets 29-9 0.763
3rd/4th Down 48.8% 5 Falcons 41.3% 20 Bills 25-14 0.641
Avg Start Pos 25.5 30 Bengals 31.8 26 Steelers 32-7 0.821
3 and Outs 3.31 12 Bengals 1.38 32 Titans 20-8 0.714
RZ Eff 64.8% 18 Cardinals 71.0% 21 Broncos 27-12 0.692
Plays/Drive 6.129 7 Falcons 6.475 31 Cardinals 27-17 0.614
Penalty Yds / Play 0.826 17 49ers 1.263 2 Patriots 19-19 0.500
RB Success 43.7% 15 Seahawks 53.6% 30 Broncos 13-22 0.371
Yds/Carry 4.28 15 Cardinals 4.22 19 Jaguars 14-19 0.424
Overall 10 Patriots 31 Jets

Some thoughts:

  • Despite their first game without turning the ball over, the Colts are back to being the worst team in the NFL when it comes to turnovers. It's also still third worst at Average Start Position.
  • On the good side, even with those shortcomings, the Colts still have the 10th best Offense in the NFL, mostly due to their very good drive stats. While not at the elite level some expected this season, it's been enough to defeat division opponents so far this season.
  • The only Defense that has played worse than the Colts this season is the Dolphins, and they've already fired their Head Coach. They've also played pretty bad against the easiest schedule so far this season for any Defense (26th, 28th, 18th, 32nd, 30th best Offenses faced). Not looking forward to Sunday.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bills 54 135 113 40 150 121
2 Jets 138 91 137 74 127 120
3 Titans 91 88 90 57 94 66
4 Jaguars 120 61 98 145 131 150
5 Texans 19 119 58 18 144 92

Matt Hasselbeck did exactly what he was supposed to do when he signed with the Colts before the 2013 season: in a pinch, make some plays and not lose a game, with the hope of possibly pulling out a win. He accomplished even more, getting a pair of wins, the second of which directly because of his very good play. I think he's ready to get back on the sidelines though, giving Andrew Luck the keys back, and spending his games on the sidelines being an extra set of eyes for Luck. The Colts are extremely fortunate for Hasselbeck, and just as fortunate Luck's injury occurred at the absolutely best point in the schedule.