While the 2016 season isn't over, it sure seems that way for the Colts after a disappointing and frustrating 22-17 loss to the Texans Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium. The loss puts them a game behind both the Texans and Titans with just three to play, and with those two teams playing each other in Week 17, the Colts will have to win out (I think) to make the Playoffs, plus get other help, so it's a long shot.
One of the biggest microcosms of the 2016 Colts has been their "attempts" to down punts inside the 10 yard line, which we were privileged to see once again on Sunday in all its futility. What's the point of paying Pat McAfee the money he's absolutely earned if you aren't going to take advantage of what he gives you? It's now at least three times that I've seen (and I've missed quite a bit of Colts games to other obligations this year), so I'm guessing it's happened at least one other time. Each time it looks like the Colts are ready to do something really good, putting them in a great position to succeed, and then they fall flat on their face, and it usually leads to something else good for the opponents (like the 80 yard TD drive after the one on Sunday). If it happens once, chalk it up to a fluke; when we're on at least three now, it isn't a coincidence.
I want to discuss the last Defensive possession a little bit, because I think it was more important than the last Offensive possession. Pagano was correct to challenge that play, and I think it's really dumb that a guy coming out of the pile with the football (in a reasonable timeframe) isn't a clear recovery, but that's an NFL rules issue more than anything. Anyhow, at that point the Texans had a 3rd and 2 from the Colts 43 with 6:32 remaining. Here's what happened:
- Converted the 3rd and 2 on a pass to Will Fuller. (5:52 to go)
- Texans holding penalty pushes them back to 1st and 20 - Converts on 2 pass plays (26 yards) to DeAndre Hopkins and a screen to Lamar Miller. (4:01 to go)
- Another Texans holding penalty, another 1st and 20 - Defensive Holding on Erik Walden (?!) negates that right away. (3:50 to go)
- Use both of the remaining timeouts after the Colts committed a 12 man penalty and giving them a 1st and 5, luckily stopping them chain-links short on 3rd down, and got lucky again when they decided to kick a field goal. (2:51 to go)
Leaving aside a correctly called fumble should have been made, the Colts Defense had three chances, two of which were 1st and 20, and they got none of those, letting another three minutes run off the clock, including their final two timeouts. The Offense had its issues (Turnovers, Play-calling), but the Defense needed to pick them up in this spot and totally whiffed.
I promise just one more, but there's something that's being missed about the final 4th and 1 play. It was super obvious, even before they were lined up, that they were going to run the shotgun inside handoff to Robert Turbin. They had already done it once, and especially after they saw only six in the box. Right before the snap, Bill O'Brien took a timeout, the Colts snapped the ball, and they simulated running that play. Immediately after I saw that, there was no way they were going to run that play, the right one in my opinion. The coaching staff has to put that in Andrew Luck's ear that if they call timeout (which 95% of NFL coaches would in that situation), show them nothing! Or, even better, throw the ball to the outside. Don't simulate what you were going to run. Good on O'Brien for forcing the Colts hand, and just another situation where the Colts weren't prepared for the situation coming.
It's time for numbers. It was a very interesting week all over the NFL, which I'll tie all up at the end.
Non-Adjusted Stats for Week 14:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||47.6%||22||52.4%||17||N||N||5-3|
|Avg Start Pos||24.3||24||36.1||27||N||Y||8-0|
|3 and Outs||3||10||2||24||N||N||3-4|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.967||20||1.851||4||N||N||2-1|
|Ranking - Week (32)||17||22||21|
|Ranking - Season (416)||298||188||270|
Adjusted Stats for Week 14:
|Statistic||Offense||Rank||Defense||Rank||Off/Def Above||Off/Def Below||Record|
|Orange Zone Eff||42.2%||25||63.9%||22||N||N||5-3|
|Avg Start Pos||22.6||28||34.0||26||N||Y||8-0|
|3 and Outs||1.9||5||2.8||21||N||N||3-4|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.921||17||2.031||2||N||N||2-1|
|Ranking - Week (32)||7||25||17|
|Ranking - Season (416)||182||276||268|
- Let's start on Offense, because there are a couple of positives. First, they actually moved the ball fairly well. Nearly 35 yards per drive and almost 75% Drive Success Rate, which gets better when you factor in the strength of Texans Defense, it makes it look even better. Moving the ball wasn't the problem.
- What was the biggest problem? Like every other game that goes down the drain, it's Turnovers. Two of them deep in their own end, and one deep in the Texans end (on an awfully designed play), which all led to field goals. It's a broken record, but it has to be pointed out every time. The fact this hasn't changed in three years, under two Offensive Coordinators, is a big problem.
- The Defense did a good job of keeping the points to a minimum by forcing five field goals, two of which were after the aforementioned turnovers deep in Colts territory. They should get credit for that. It's the reason the Colts had a chance to win at the end.
- However, they let the Texans have the ball for 36 minutes, way too long for a pretty bad Offense. The Offense shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over, the Defense did it by letting the Texans keep the ball for a long time.
- The overall rankings for the Week seem to indicate the Offense significantly outperformed the Defense, which even I, at first, took at face value and didn't bat an eye. That's the way things normally go in Indianapolis. But those are a bit misleading. I'll discuss it at the end of the article, as it's easier to see with the rest of the season's rankings as well.
Season Stats through Week 14 (Adjusted):
|Orange Zone Eff||57.6%||14||Falcons||59.4%||22||Giants||70-32||0.686|
|Avg Start Pos||28.5||23||Vikings||28.0||9||Patriots||88-34||0.721|
|3 and Outs||3.28||9||Redskins||3.34||18||Broncos||50-30||0.625|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.754||7||Chargers||1.126||2||Titans||59-39||0.602|
Just one thing:
- With the exception of the Cowboys, who are #1 in RB Success Rate, the combination of Running the ball and Stopping the run in a game is a cumulative 84-123 on the season between our two stats. I've been tracking these since 2001, and I've never seen anything like this before. It literally means if you are above average running the ball and stopping the run in the same game, you're more likely to lose than win.
Here's where I splash the cold water on the Offense and everything starts to make sense. The Offensive ranking, when you compare it to the rest of the season rather than just games this week, isn't all that good. Sure it's barely better than average, but I'd agree that's about what we saw, not a 7th overall for the week. It means that Offensive football in Week 14 was quite bad (except for that team in the Northeast). Some was weather related, but others was just bad football, which is what we saw in Indianapolis from both teams. Obviously the flip side of this is the Defense wasn't great by any means, but it's better than the weekly numbers looked up above.
Will the Colts respond in their last three games? Trips to Minnesota and Oakland are looming, and with both fighting for Playoff spots (or home field in Oakland's case), I'm not liking the Colts chances. They've obviously surprised us in the past, and they tend to play to the level of their competition, but after putting four guys in Injured Reserve Tuesday, I think they're waiving the white flag.
The only question remaining is who will the decision makers be in 2017 and beyond...