Everyone who has followed the NFL this year knows that the Indianapolis Colts have not had a very good defense, but just how bad has it been?
Pro Football Reference - a tremendous tool for in-depth statistical study - tweeted out this fact yesterday: 47% of drives against Indy’s defense have ended in scores for the opposing offense, which is the highest mark in the league.
That means that on nearly half of the Colts defensive possessions, they’re allowing a score, so every other time they take the field on average they’re giving up points. That’s not good. Ranking last in the league in this category, the Colts are slightly worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars (46.3% of drives), New Orleans Saints (44.3% of drives), and Atlanta Falcons (44.3% of drives).
The Colts are the worst despite the fact that only seven defenses have a better average starting position than Indianapolis (an offense’s own 26.7 yard line), and the 36.2 yards given up per drive ranks as the fourth-most in the league (36.2 yards per drive). Only three defenses have a worse turnover percentage (8% of drives) and only five defenses have given up more points per drive than the Colts (2.37). The Colts are also one of only four defenses allowing more than 400 yards per game, and they’ve given up the sixth-most points per game as well.
Putting all of this together, you begin to see a picture of a defense that isn’t good. And I think it’s a helpful way to look at it when you consider that the defense is allowing, on average, a score every other possession. That’s a huge strain on the offense and is the biggest reason why the Colts are just 4-5 at the bye week, as they’ve given up way too many plays on defense.