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2015 NFL Week 13: Inside the Colts Numbers - A Night To Forget

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For the second straight year we'll need some strong stuff to forget the Colts trip to Pittsburgh, this time a 45-10 drubbing at the hand of the Steelers. But that's exactly what you need to do: forget about it and move on.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It was a pretty forgettable night for anyone wearing the blue horseshoe Sunday night in Pittsburgh, as the Colts got completely dominated 45-10 by the Steelers, in a game that actually was close for almost a half. It brings the Colts record to 6-6 on the season, but thanks to the Bills beating the Texans 30-21 they stay in a first place tie atop the AFC South.

The fact it was close just before halftime is actually a criticism of the Colts, as they had several breaks go their way and fell flat on their faces. The game easily could have been 14-0 and then 21-6 with the Colts winning, but they decided to match the Steelers turnover-for-turnover early on in the game instead of putting them in a hole and making them one-dimensional. The Colts couldn't stop either the run or the pass from the mid-point of the 2nd quarter on (and we'll get into specific later), but it could have been a totally different game if the Colts had cashed in on the early Steelers' mistakes. It's certainly possible (and probable) the Steelers would have torched the Colts secondary anyway, but the initial blame for this loss goes to the Offense.

I don't talk much about the local media around here, as I think it's usually a waste of bandwidth to show how lacking in knowledgeable analysis they are, but today has pushed me over the edge. Apparently to almost everyone who covers the Colts as their full-time job, Matt Hasselbeck has been the main reason for the Colts 4-0 record in games he's started, and Sunday night was the first time he showed either his age or his skill level this season. Don't believe me? Look here or here or here or (my favorite from before the game) here. It's the same old lazy "analysis" that it seems everyone paid as beat writers falls into: Team wins, QB playing well. You, our loyal readers here at Stampede Blue, know that is, to put it bluntly, total bullshit, and know that Matt Hasselbeck is what he is: a backup Quarterback that is wildly consistent, can show glimpses of good things, but ultimately not a guy you want on the field if you expect to win a division, let alone a Super Bowl. Think about that though: one of those guys had him as the 11th best QB in the NFL RIGHT NOW. I get that their main job is to make money for their company through eyeballs reading what they write, so they tailor their work to the masses, but when seemingly everyone who covers the team day-to-day can't look past the win-loss record, it's a sad day for any real analysis.

Head Coach Chuck Pagano decided to punt not once, but twice from Steelers territory on 4th and short, which takes back many of the good decisions he'd been making this season. The first punt "worked" as the Colts did force a Three and Out on the following possession and got the ball back only a few yards behind where they punted, but judging decisions based on the outcome is not the best way to do things. He does get credit for correctly going for it on 4th down late in the 3rd quarter before the game was completely out of reach, as they needed TDs to keep it close and the Defense couldn't be trusted to make a stop (which they didn't).

The numbers are the worst of the season. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 13:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 52.2% 29 82.4% 27 N Y 6-2
ANPY/A 2.974 30 11.385 30 N Y 7-0
Turnovers 3 28 2 6 N N 4-4
Yds/Drive 20.00 28 52.20 32 N Y 5-3
ToP/Drive 2:15.8 26 3:17.0 29 N Y 4-5
Yds/Play 4.211 31 7.352 32 N Y 6-0
Orange Zone Eff 23.8% 26 61.2% 16 N Y 5-3
First Downs/Drive 0.92 30 2.40 28 N Y 5-4
3rd/4th Down 23.5% 29 61.5% 29 N Y 6-1
Avg Start Pos 41.6 2 21.2 4 Y N 6-4
3 and Outs 5 26 2 24 N Y 4-3
RZ Eff 23.8% 26 85.7% 21 N Y 3-1
Plays/Drive 4.750 28 7.100 30 N Y 6-3
Penalty Yds / Play 0.526 7 0.676 23 N N 5-2
RB Success 35.3% 24 38.7% 12 N N 3-3
Yds/Carry 3.00 29 4.94 26 N Y 7-0
Ranking - Week (32) 31 28 30
Ranking - Season (384) 377 341 381

Adjusted Stats for Week 13:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 54.2% 30 80.5% 27 N Y 6-2
ANPY/A 3.122 30 10.049 30 N Y 7-0
Turnovers 2.7 30 1.8 9 N N 4-4
Yds/Drive 19.72 29 46.50 31 N Y 5-3
ToP/Drive 2:11.1 28 3:16.5 30 N Y 4-5
Yds/Play 4.219 30 6.316 27 N Y 6-0
Orange Zone Eff 29.9% 25 64.7% 18 N Y 5-3
First Downs/Drive 0.92 31 2.32 27 N Y 5-4
3rd/4th Down 25.4% 29 61.2% 29 N Y 6-1
Avg Start Pos 41.7 1 20.8 5 Y N 6-4
3 and Outs 4.6 26 2.3 26 N Y 4-3
RZ Eff 29.7% 26 78.8% 20 N Y 3-1
Plays/Drive 4.668 29 7.156 32 N Y 6-3
Penalty Yds / Play 0.390 7 0.765 21 N N 5-2
RB Success 37.4% 23 36.5% 8 N N 3-3
Yds/Carry 3.52 24 4.25 19 N Y 7-0
Ranking - Week (32) 32 31 32
Ranking - Season (384) 378 332 379

Some thoughts:

  • If I had told you the Colts Defense would force two turnovers in the first three minutes, and for the game the Colts would, on average, start at their own 42 yard line, 20 yards better than the Steelers, you'd sign up for that games 100 out of 100 times. Those circumstantial things, which don't come around too often, set up this team perfectly to compete against an obviously superior team. To lose by 35 with those factors is inconceivable, but I guess that word just doesn't mean what I think it does.
  • Personally, I think the worst thing about Sunday was six trips into the Red Zone and only getting one touchdown and one field goal. Even if the Colts were just their season average, they'd have scored 28 points (66%), and it's a ball game and maybe they try to stop Antonio Brown on the punt return with the Super Mario Brothers ending.
  • The Colts defense nominally slowed down the Steelers running game, but it's not something they should be hanging their hat on. Everything is just really, really bad. Pretty much every fear I had about what could happen did, and in a major way.
  • Overall the Colts played the 6th worst game of the entire NFL season, while the Steelers played the 2nd best, topped only by what the Seahawks did to the Vikings earlier in the day. The Cardinals played the 4th best game of the season Sunday, so it was just one of those really lopsided days.

Season Stats through Week 13 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 68.2% 22 Cardinals 70.4% 18 Broncos 70-12 0.854
ANPY/A 4.725 27 Bengals 6.348 22 Broncos 75-11 0.872
Turnovers 2.19 31 Packers 1.73 16 Panthers 75-28 0.728
Yds/Drive 28.03 22 Cardinals 32.39 26 Broncos 61-17 0.782
ToP/Drive 2:38.0 23 Cowboys 2:39.0 14 Panthers 71-31 0.696
Yds/Play 4.909 28 Steelers 5.662 26 Broncos 69-18 0.793
Orange Zone Eff 57.8% 14 Patriots 55.6% 19 Bengals 65-20 0.765
First Downs/Drive 1.68 18 Cardinals 1.67 13 Panthers 64-25 0.719
3rd/4th Down 41.6% 10 Cardinals 42.9% 27 Texans 57-26 0.687
Avg Start Pos 29.5 18 Chiefs 28.7 7 Bengals 71-20 0.780
3 and Outs 4.32 28 Vikings 3.36 23 Panthers 51-28 0.646
RZ Eff 66.2% 13 Jets 69.1% 21 Jets 65-26 0.714
Plays/Drive 5.771 15 Chargers 5.672 17 Panthers 60-35 0.632
Penalty Yds / Play 0.713 5 Jets 1.087 2 Cardinals 49-43 0.533
RB Success 41.7% 23 Seahawks 42.9% 13 Rams 41-43 0.488
Yds/Carry 3.95 22 Seahawks 4.30 21 Seahawks 41-39 0.513
Overall 21 Cardinals 22 Panthers

Some thoughts:

  • It is pretty amazing this team is 6-6 and leading a division with how bad their stats are. Ranking in the 20s on both sides of the ball almost always means a top 10 pick the following year (and that thought has definitely crossed my mind), but they still have four very winnable games remaining, so we'll see.
  • Our top two stats remain the most predictive (they always are), Field Position and Red Zone Efficiency look to be a bit more important this season, while Time of Possession per Drive isn't winning at its historical average. Ability to run the ball well still pretty indifferent to winning.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bills 137 337 291 164 343 311
2 Jets 335 232 337 261 271 319
3 Titans 204 227 232 198 290 287
4 Jaguars 277 175 249 358 233 350
5 Texans 46 291 134 21 310 128
6 Patriots 87 272 163 51 197 70
7 Saints 354 161 321 381 126 332
8 Panthers 372 37 231 318 33 148
9 Broncos 39 169 45 11 223 36
10 BYE
11 Falcons 292 99 196 338 73 220
12 Buccaneers 55 174 51 108 201 132
13 Steelers 377 341 381 378 332 379

Always remember you're never as good as your best game, and never as bad as your worst game, which means the Colts are somewhere between the team that showed up against the Broncos and the one against the Steelers. It's a good thing the schedule is incredibly weak the rest of the way, including playing teams ranked 29th, 30th, and 32nd based on the Winning Stats (the Texans are 13th). Just forget about Sunday night and move on. It's for the best.