It’s no secret that the Indianapolis Colts offense has struggled in some areas of its progression as well as specific areas of the field. Possibly the most notable – and reflective of success, or a lack thereof – has been their issues in the red zone.
Earlier this season we touched on Jacoby Brissett’s lack of success and accuracy in the red zone in one of our Film Room sessions. While his ability to get better inside the 20-yard line is pertinent to the Colts chances of victory – which we’ll discuss shortly – the lack of success isn’t solely on Brissett’s shoulders.
There are many factors playing a part in the Colts inability to punch the ball into the end zone, but let’s start with Brissett while we’re there already. Brissett is still virtually ineffective inside the 20, in fact, he’s 31st among the 32 quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts with a 37.5% completion rate – only above DeShone Kiser.
Brissett does have a couple of the rushes in the red zone for a score, but he’s only amassed 3 passing touchdowns (32nd in NFL) when the field is at its shortest. But, as I said, it’s not all on Jacoby. The Colts offense a unit has allowed the second-most sacks inside the 20 (5), and isn’t great on the ground either.
The Colts rushing offense has only produced 7 touchdowns and is 22nd in the league averaging 1.91 yards per rush. Maybe you could say that the loss of Robert Turbin has had an effect on their struggles since he’s been gone, but there’s more to it than that.
It’s fair to say that the overall lack of success in other areas are limiting the amount of opportunities the Colts are getting as they have the 8th fewest plays in the red zone (65) to begin with. Additionally, none of those 7 teams who have fewer plays in the red zone have a winning record, and are averaging just 3 wins.
The Colts are also 1 of only 8 teams who are running the ball more than they are passing in this area of the field. The funny part about that stat, is that 6 of the other teams implementing this red zone gameplan have an average of 7.3 wins, with the Browns being the only other scrub. Another section to that is the caveat that 4 of those 6 teams are top-10 rushing offenses in one statistic or another whether it be total rush yards, yards per carry or rush yards per game.
Decipher all of that however you choose, but there are some obvious conclusions I’d say. Needless to say, Brissett and the Colts offense needs to get into scoring position more often, which appears to have a correlation to improving their win total. But, they also simply are not the caliber of ground-and-pound squad that should be running more than passing, and realistically need to evaluate their gameplan due to the results. They have to track this stuff, right?
Now that we’ve discussed the disgust we feel with the Colts offense inside the 20, how can the Colts possibly alter, and execute a gameplan that may be able to exploit the Tennessee Titans? Let’s just say right off the top that it won’t be a wise decision to maintain the rushing approach for the Colts. The Titans have allowed only rushing touchdowns (8th) and are allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per attempt (2 yards per rush).
Their pass defense in the red zone is an entirely different story though. The Titans have allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league (17), are 23rd in the league in yards per pass play (3.5 yards per pass) and with the third-most defensively plays in the red zone their pass rush has only yielded 2 sacks (52 plays).
Simply put, Rob Chudzinski and the Colts offense – despite their obvious ineptitude on the ground or through the air – will need to dial up some unique packages and formations in order to take advantage of the Titans’ defense through the air. Yes, the Colts have the fewest touchdowns (10) in the league down inside the 20-yard line, and have allowed the second-most sacks in this area as well, but remaining aggressive through the air in spite of limited success is still the way to go.
Brissett has been progressing without making significant strides inside the 20, but running the ball simply isn’t working and you’ve got to let the young quarterback make his bed. He’s got to be significantly better than he has, Chud has to be less predictable than he has, and the rest of the offense is simply on the hook to execute more effectively than they’ve proven able thus far.
Here’s to hoping we don’t see much of the Colts ground game inside the red zone on Sunday.