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2015 NFL Week 3: Inside the Colts Numbers - Survive And Advance

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Per usual with the Colts of recent years, they waited until the last possible second to turn it on to win a game, 35-33 against the Titans. While the win is nice, there are still countless issues with the Colts.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

On Thursday at the end of my preview I mentioned Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano talking about the Colts having "their backs against the wall" after their 0-2 start. Wouldn't you know it they waited until their backs were against the wall in a game in which their backs were already against the wall to start playing well, overcoming a 13 point 4th quarter deficit to notch their first win of the season, 35-33 over the Titans. But boy was it the opposite of pretty.

I was driving back home from vacation while listening to the game, so some of my observations are a bit limited, but I think I got a pretty good handle of what was happening through the homer glasses of Bob Lamey. I got in the car after stopping for lunch, and the Colts were already ahead 7-0, so I (foolishly) figured we were in for a stress-free drive listening to the Colts getting back on track. Then a pick-six makes it 14-0, and it's like old times.

But as you know, the wheels fell off the wagon for two straight quarters, and finally got righted by a goal-line stand by the Defense midway through the 3rd quarter, and a 98 yard, season-saving touchdown drive in the 4th that kickstarted an explosion of points we certainly haven't seen yet this season. If you want to go further down the Inception rabbit hole, the TD to Phillip Dorsett came on a 3rd and 20 from the Titans 35, so another level of "backs against the wall". It really was the last possible second and they somehow got the job done. It's encouraging if they can build off of that, as that's the Colts team we expected to see before the season started.

It's no secret the Colts Offensive Line was pretty average last year, got no upgrades in the Offseason, and have given Andrew Luck about 0.5 seconds to get rid of the ball. You know this, I know this, opposing players and coaches absolutely know this, but the play calling seems to indicate they know nothing about this. I don't know if they are just waiting until they play a "good team", but that seems like an awful decision if you can't win your other games because of it. Roll Luck to either side (preferably right but can't be too predictable), run some middle screens to a RB, and kill Defenses for pinning their ears back and killing the QB. How can you go essentially six drives in a row (more later) without at least trying it?

How did the numbers look for the Colts first win of the season? Let's take a look.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 3:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 75.0% 13 78.0% 22 N N 3-0
ANPY/A 5.909 19 6.277 17 N N 6-2
Turnovers 2 21 2 6 N N 7-1
Yds/Drive 31.50 21 33.31 15 N N 6-1
ToP/Drive 2:05.1 28 2:41.5 12 N N 6-3
Yds/Play 6.750 6 5.851 19 N N 5-1
Orange Zone Eff 100.0% 1 69.4% 19 N N 4-0
First Downs/Drive 1.67 25 2.15 23 N Y 5-1
3rd/4th Down 41.7% 16 35.7% 12 Y N 6-3
Avg Start Pos 28.6 10 32.2 28 N Y 6-2
3 and Outs 5 28 4 6 N N 4-0
RZ Eff 100.0% 1 81.0% 20 N N 5-1
Plays/Drive 4.667 29 5.692 14 N Y 7-2
Penalty Yds / Play 1.268 25 0.743 20 N Y 5-4
RB Success 47.4% 11 48.1% 24 N N 3-2
Yds/Carry 5.78 2 3.26 14 Y N 4-1
Ranking - Week (32) 21 17 20
Ranking - Season (96) 61 52 56

Adjusted Stats for Week 3:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 76.4% 18 81.8% 28 N N 3-0
ANPY/A 5.226 23 5.524 13 N N 6-2
Turnovers 2.4 29 1.8 9 N N 7-1
Yds/Drive 33.96 16 33.59 15 N N 6-1
ToP/Drive 2:18.6 27 2:43.5 14 N N 6-3
Yds/Play 6.619 5 5.806 18 N N 5-1
Orange Zone Eff 96.8% 2 72.7% 22 N N 4-0
First Downs/Drive 1.89 18 2.15 23 N Y 5-1
3rd/4th Down 47.2% 10 41.6% 18 Y N 6-3
Avg Start Pos 27.5 11 31.6 28 N Y 6-2
3 and Outs 3.8 26 3.8 7 N N 4-0
RZ Eff 101.7% 2 83.2% 23 N N 5-1
Plays/Drive 5.249 24 5.876 13 N Y 7-2
Penalty Yds / Play 1.177 23 0.885 18 N Y 5-4
RB Success 44.0% 15 52.4% 27 N N 3-2
Yds/Carry 5.47 2 3.13 10 Y N 4-1
Ranking - Week (32) 15 19 17
Ranking - Season (96) 44 51 49

Some thoughts:

  • Between TD drives the Colts had the ball seven times. You know they had more yards (47) in the final 19 seconds of the first half than they did the other six drives combined (39)? All five of the Three and Outs came during that stretch, and the one promising drive (24 whole yards, thanks to 18 by Pat McAfee) ended in a bad interception by Andrew Luck. Think about that...the only first down, save right before the half when the Titans were clearly in a prevent defense, over six drives was a fake punt run.
  • How do you make up for a ton of Three and Outs and generally struggling to move the ball? When you do get a drive going, you end it with a touchdown. Four times in the Orange Zone, four TDs. The Colts will be just fine if they can consistently do that.
  • The Turnovers don't feel as bad when the Defense more than makes up for it on the other end. Dwight Lowery had himself a day Sunday, which was much needed with all the injury issues the secondary has encountered. I have a bad feeling, however, that this two Turnovers per game thing isn't going away. When you hear the Colts talk about it, it's all just lip service at this point.
  • The Colts ran the ball really well, which I expected. The Defense gave up a bunch of "successful" runs, but never let them get lose. It was just a bunch of screen passes they let get huge chunks of yards. But when the Defense needed three straight stops at the goal line, and one more on the final two-point conversion, they were up to the task.
  • Overall the Colts were good on both sides of the ball, again, on 3rd/4th downs. The Offense wasn't consistent enough, but when they absolutely had to have a conversion (especially the 3rd and 20 TD throw to Dorsett), they got it done. The Defense only gave up 4 conversions on 3rd down all day, but three came on the Titans first TD drive, and three of them were 10+ yarders, all of which were wide open (according to Lamey).
Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 76.5% 3 Cowboys 67.6% 17 Seahawks 16-2 0.889
ANPY/A 5.197 21 Bengals 6.398 26 Broncos 23-2 0.920
Turnovers 2.28 32 Packers 1.37 24 Jets 21-3 0.875
Yds/Drive 31.49 10 Patriots 31.72 20 Broncos 14-3 0.824
ToP/Drive 2:46.0 12 Cowboys 2:49.0 24 Chiefs 18-8 0.692
Yds/Play 5.539 7 Steelers 5.542 24 Broncos 17-3 0.850
Orange Zone Eff 65.0% 4 Patriots 53.0% 15 Bills 19-3 0.864
First Downs/Drive 1.88 4 Patriots 1.70 17 Cardinals 17-5 0.773
3rd/4th Down 50.6% 2 Steelers 34.2% 11 Texans 15-8 0.652
Avg Start Pos 27.3 31 Jets 31.4 29 Steelers 23-4 0.852
3 and Outs 3.68 16 Giants 3.23 26 Titans 13-4 0.765
RZ Eff 76.7% 2 Patriots 69.2% 25 Jets 19-8 0.704
Plays/Drive 5.861 6 Saints 5.631 18 Titans 16-9 0.640
Penalty Yds / Play 0.902 26 Jets 1.036 3 Patriots 11-9 0.550
RB Success 50.2% 4 Seahawks 41.1% 13 Rams 7-14 0.333
Yds/Carry 4.54 3 Redskins 4.08 17 Eagles 8-10 0.444
Overall 5 Patriots 21 Broncos

Some thoughts:

  • As you'd expect, the Colts Offense is the worst in the NFL at turning the ball over, now sitting at 10 for three games. Even the boost from opponent adjustment isn't enough to help them there. But they've moved out of the basement in Average Starting Position! Still second worst, but it's a start.
  • On the flip side, the Colts are excellent on 3rd/4th Downs, Orange/Red Zone Efficiency, and running the football. Again, they need to use this new-found ability to run the football to take some pressure off of Luck and the passing game.
  • The Defense has nothing it's spectacular at, and nothing that is critically wrong. The Passing stat looks bad, but getting players healthy and/or experience will help that stat. The Defense just needs to be league-average. They're actually pretty close.

Week-by-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Bills 36 81 68 23 85 61
2 Jets 87 56 85 71 69 81
3 Titans 61 52 56 44 51 49

While I can't say it was an impressive performance, it at least was better than the first two weeks. Winning a road division game, no matter how bad it looked, is always a good thing. But the Colts we've seen the first three weeks are still no where close to where they need to be to achieve their stated goal: Winning the Super Bowl. There's still time, but we need to see a ton of improvement across the board before reality resembles lifting a trophy in February.