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2016 NFL Week 4: Inside the Colts Numbers - Delaying the Inevitable

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How many more times do we need to see the same script play out before a change is actually made, rather than just talked about? The Colts 30-27 loss to the Jaguars Sunday in London is just the latest example of what we've all seen over and over.

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

The season is just a quarter of the way finished, but it's felt like an eternity already. The Colts once again found themselves down big, made a frantic comeback, and like two of the first three games, fell short in the end, this time 30-27 in London to division rival Jacksonville. The loss drops the Colts to 1-3 on the season, with two of those losses (Lions, Jaguars) coming to teams who are also 1-3 (meaning the Colts were their only win). Joyous time to be a Colts fan.

I want to focus on a positive first, and that was the start time. When i lived in Colorado, NFL games started at 11 in the morning, and it was glorious. The Mountain Time Zone is by far the best in the country, and we all got a piece of that on Sunday with the game starting at 9:30. I know it's impossible to do that while playing in this country, but that would be the one advantage to a team playing in London...morning games on the East Coast.

As far as the game goes, just like Week 1 against the Lions, the blueprint of a Chuck Pagano / Ryan Grigson Colts game. Terrible out of the gate, catch fire at the absolute last possible moment, climb back from an insurmountable deficit and make it look like it's a foregone conclusion they'll actually win, and the newest wrinkle: fall short because it all evens out in the long run. Eventually I'm going to make a list of every game where this happened, and I'm guessing we'll get at least a season and a half worth of games that fit this exact model.

On Defense, all eleven starters from the Colts pre-Training Camp depth chart played on Sunday, which was a first for 2016. You can attribute how well they played together to rust, London, or just a lack of talent, but either way the Colts have to live with the fact that the Jaguars, who have one of the worst Offenses in the NFL by a number of measures, did basically whatever they wanted to them. The ever-elusive Blake Bortles was able to run/scramble seven times for 36 yards and a touchdown, with each one (I think) being on a roll-out with nobody around him. It's just the tip of the iceberg on a failure to make adjustments based on the personnel on the field, but if you allow 30 points to the Jaguars with every starter playing, your Defense isn't very good.

There's no need to go into the over-arching problems with this team that we saw manifest themselves Sunday morning/afternoon across the pond. Let's get into the stats, where the Colts continue to do one thing really, really well, while not being good at much else.

Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 4:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 76.5% 8 74.3% 21 N N 7-2
ANPY/A 3.854 25 6.528 18 N Y 10-1
Turnovers 1 10 0 22 N N 9-1
Yds/Drive 25.82 24 27.58 10 N N 5-1
ToP/Drive 2:58.1 9 2:16.8 6 N N 8-2
Yds/Play 3.890 28 5.092 9 N N 4-2
Orange Zone Eff 71.4% 9 65.7% 15 N N 4-0
First Downs/Drive 2.09 8 1.92 21 N N 8-2
3rd/4th Down 47.4% 10 33.3% 10 Y N 2-3
Avg Start Pos 25.0 21 29.7 20 N Y 8-1
3 and Outs 3 12 4 8 Y N 3-3
RZ Eff 100.0% 1 81.0% 14 N N 2-0
Plays/Drive 6.636 5 5.417 8 Y N 5-4
Penalty Yds / Play 1.068 15 2.231 1 N N 4-2
RB Success 55.0% 5 52.2% 23 N N 4-3
Yds/Carry 3.76 16 4.69 21 N Y 4-4
Ranking - Week (30) 14 16 15
Ranking - Season (126) 62 56 53

Adjusted Stats for Week 4:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 70.8% 17 78.7% 26 N N 7-2
ANPY/A 4.084 25 7.400 23 N Y 10-1
Turnovers 1.1 16 -0.1 30 N N 9-1
Yds/Drive 27.17 22 29.47 14 N N 5-1
ToP/Drive 2:46.6 13 2:26.7 9 N N 8-2
Yds/Play 4.208 28 5.433 18 N N 4-2
Orange Zone Eff 63.4% 15 70.3% 20 N N 4-0
First Downs/Drive 1.97 9 2.00 20 N N 8-2
3rd/4th Down 41.3% 15 41.1% 12 Y N 2-3
Avg Start Pos 24.2 25 29.1 19 N Y 8-1
3 and Outs 2.9 15 3.9 8 Y N 3-3
RZ Eff 93.1% 7 83.8% 20 N N 2-0
Plays/Drive 6.438 5 5.461 11 Y N 5-4
Penalty Yds / Play 1.159 15 2.026 1 N N 4-2
RB Success 49.6% 8 55.4% 26 N N 4-3
Yds/Carry 3.63 18 4.65 24 N Y 4-4
Ranking - Week (30) 17 17 17
Ranking - Season (126) 77 86 97

Some thoughts:

  • I'm going to lead with the positive thing here, which is another perfect day in the Red Zone (2/2) scoring touchdowns, which makes them 10/11 on the season, a 95% clip that is tops in the NFL. There's lots of areas to criticize the Offense, but they need credit for the marked improvement inside the 20. They've been nearly perfect.
  • Just the lone turnover, but it basically gifted the Jaguars a touchdown early on, something they've not been used to very much. In fact, they had scored just a single first quarter touchdown since Week 10 of 2015, a span of 10 games. Let that sink in a bit, and I bet  your head will fall into your palms all on their own.
  • Passing game stunk, and every facet is partly to blame. Luck had the least of the blame, but he still struggled at times. Anthony Castonzo was a revolving door, and the rest of the Offensive line didn't help much at all either. Then the dropped passes. Oh the dropped passes, including one that virtually ended the game for the Colts by Dwayne Allen. I thought the Tight End with the poor hands went to New Orleans...
  • The Jaguars had 145 yards in penalties, yet still found a way to win the game. It was the most penalty yards by any team so far this season, and only three games topped it last year. They tried to hand the game to the Colts, but it just fell right on the floor.
  • There were a whole lot of poor performances in Week 4 if this one ranks as 17th out of 30 games, and you can tell that by the overall rank of 97th. You can also see the difference between adjusting for opponent and not, as there's a start difference. Colts looked very "average" in straight numbers, which is a bad thing when playing a team near the bottom of the league.

Season Stats through Week 4 (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 71.3% 13 Saints 73.2% 27 Texans 20-2 0.909
ANPY/A 5.580 18 Falcons 6.489 27 Broncos 27-1 0.964
Turnovers 1.59 14 Eagles 1.40 27 Vikings 28-7 0.800
Yds/Drive 30.09 14 Falcons 32.79 27 Ravens 16-3 0.842
ToP/Drive 2:42.0 15 Cowboys 2:44.0 20 Texans 22-12 0.647
Yds/Play 5.135 24 Falcons 5.656 29 Broncos 14-4 0.778
Orange Zone Eff 58.9% 10 Raiders 58.7% 24 Rams 19-6 0.760
First Downs/Drive 1.81 8 Cowboys 1.90 27 Texans 19-7 0.731
3rd/4th Down 40.1% 13 Saints 41.5% 24 Texans 16-5 0.762
Avg Start Pos 27.9 28 Eagles 28.5 9 Patriots 23-13 0.639
3 and Outs 3.69 17 Jets 3.64 15 Texans 14-10 0.583
RZ Eff 76.5% 3 Saints 69.2% 22 Bills 22-8 0.733
Plays/Drive 5.844 8 Cowboys 5.776 20 Texans 19-12 0.613
Penalty Yds / Play 0.878 21 49ers 1.062 3 Redskins 20-11 0.645
RB Success 46.8% 7 Saints 49.6% 28 Ravens 12-16 0.429
Yds/Carry 3.99 22 Browns 4.25 17 Packers 11-15 0.423
Overall 12 Falcons 28 Texans

A couple things:

  • The undefeated records of both Drive Success Rate and ANPY/A fell this week, with the lone victim in our Passing stat being the Chargers, who have a special ability to blow big leads late. Still a very, very telling stat.
  • Through the first four weeks, I'd call the Offense "slightly above average" based on the numbers, ranking 12th overall. We talked about the Red Zone numbers above, and they are moving the ball with some success. There's very little game-breaking ability however (24th in Yards per Play), and their Field Position stinks, but otherwise the Offense is good enough to win games.
  • The Defense, on the other hand, is a bottom five Defense in the league, and there isn't any evidence to the contrary. They are all healthy and playing now, which means absolutely no excuses. Time for guys to step up.

Week-to-Week Comparison:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Lions 4 124 68 16 124 91
2 Broncos 85 102 108 66 98 102
3 Chargers 45 43 28 42 43 24
4 Jaguars 62 56 53 77 86 97

The three losses are very similar in the Total Adjusted column, with the outlier being the one victory. Does that match what you've seen with your eyes? It does mine.

The Colts are in last place in the worst division in football, and the only team they beat has given up double digit 4th quarter leads in two of their three losses. As we've said time and again over the past four-plus years, the one score games will even out over time, and we're seeing that play out right in front of us this season. I look forward to a week of cliches without much of an improvement on the field.