Every week, I will present a summary of some basic and advanced stats for the Colts performance relative to the league. Thanks to Pro Football Reference, NFL.com and the nflSCrapR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.
OK, let’s get it out of the way. It was the wrong decision.
- For those who think ties don’t count you are empirically wrong. They count as exactly 1⁄2 a win, which is 1⁄2 a win more than the Colts got last Sunday and less than the number of wins they simply handed to a division rival.
- For those who think it was aggressive, it wasn’t. It was a decision with little chance of success and a large downside. Punching a wall isn’t aggressive, it’s stupid.
- For those who feel consolation in the player’s opinions, the player’s, thankfully, aren’t coaches. They don’t get paid to make those decisions.
- For those who think the team unity is completely worth it, then have fun watching some other AFC South team play in week 18 while you proudly crow about how “at least we went for it”.
Last week, I wrote that the Colts offense would not be successful unless they increased their catch rate or threw longer passes. In week 4, they did both and the results were a much stronger performance.
It wasn’t all roses though. The Colts put up 5 drives that accumulated -21 yards and an opponent score. Usually that is enough to write the game off, but the outstanding second half performance led to 3 TDs and a field goal.
This mixture of good and bad resulted in a 72% DSR, which crushes the pathetic 58% posted last week.
One driver of the elevated week 4 performance was third down conversion rate which increased from 16% in week 3 to almost 59% (10 of 17). Given that the avg yards to gain was a 23rd ranked 8.4 yards, it was truly 3rd down heroics that allowed the Colts to even get to overtime.
The graphs above show average 2nd and 3rd down situations for all teams so far this year. I have also plotted the Colts by week numbers separately for comparison.
On 2nd downs, the Colts have consistently had better than average yards to gain, which means we are successful on 1st downs relative to the league. But on 3rd downs, the last 2 weeks resulted in a higher than average yards to go, meaning our second downs have been ineffective.
With 8.4 ytg, converting 59% of 3rd downs is truly a remarkable effort, without which, the offense would have looked much more like last week.
I’m not one to talk about dropped passes but man, that seemed like a lot of dropped passes.
The first passing numbers I looked for this week were the average depth of target (aDOT) and air yards per completion (aYd), which in the first 3 weeks were the worst of all teams.
Fortunately, both of these dramatically increased. The 8.4 aDOT was 25% longer than the previous week and the 7.4 aYds more than doubled week 3’s laughable 3.1. Andrew Luck is starting to connect on deeper passes.
A higher catch rate and longer passes led to an easier time moving the ball, which presents itself in Luck’s 7.8 ANY/A, his best mark, by far, this season.
The rushing story is about the same as last week: the Colts didn’t rush much and they didn’t rush well. Long yardage limited the number of 3rd down conversion attempts to 2, one of which was successful. There were no explosive runs and only 41 yards total.
Much of that is likely due to game script as the Colts trailed for most of the contest.
Overall, this week was a much better effort, but the Colts offense still needs to take the next step.
They will have to correct their second down deficiencies to make 3rd downs easier (and less frequent). Converting large yard to gain situations at high rates is just not sustainable.
Success in that area should limit the number of 3 & outs and result in longer, more successful drives.