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.
The relationship between an NFL offense and the defense it faces is complementary and interconnected. It is a yin and yang where each is dependent upon and defines the other.
So, it is difficult to say if last Sunday was an outstanding Indy defense or a horrible Jacksonville offense. The answer may just be the sound of one hand clapping. And for those who want me to stop conflating disparate eastern philosophies, I can safely say that was Zen and this is Tao.
Alternatively, we can just look at the stats and see that the defense put up some remarkable numbers.
Jacksonville was allowed into Indy territory only twice all day and they earned just 11 first downs. Throw in 3 sacks and a takeaway and you get a 50% Drive Success Rate, which is actually worse than what the Jags defense did to the Colts.
Of the 384 games so far this year, a 50% DSR ranks 8th lowest and easily puts the Indy D as the best defensive effort of the week. They also finished at the top of the pile in First Down % against.
The Colts held the Jags to just 0.5 adjusted points per drive, which is the second best effort for the week, eclipsed only by . . . oh right, Jacksonville blanking Indy.
Giving up a 4.9 ANY/A is actually pretty good pass defense but a lot of teams managed that this week so the ranking is just “meh”. But with 3 sacks, no TDs and just 1 explosive pass play, Cody Kessler could not move the ball through the air as only 26% of his passes earned a new set of downs (6th lowest).
While Kessler did attain a high 75% completion rate, that is mostly explained by how short his passes were. 1.9 avg air yards per completion was the shortest in the league this week.
The last time around the Jags hung 9.9 Yards After the Catch on the Colts, but this week, it was limited to 6.4. That is still a big number but somewhat forgivable as really short passes tend to have inflated YAC.
With 2.9 Yards per Carry and a 18% weighted Rush Success Rate, the Colts completely shut down the Jags run game. It was the 3rd best effort of the week with the top spot going to . . . oh right, Jacksonville . . . crap.
CONCLUSIONS & NEXT MATCH-UP
I know a lot of people will be hesitant to give the Colts D any credit as Jacksonville’s offense was severely hobbled. But in those situations, a good defense should keep their opponents out of the end zone and quickly get the ball back to their offense and that’s exactly what the Colts did.
This coming Sunday, the defense will be tested by Deshaun Watson, best known as Joe the policeman on the “What’s Goin’ Down” episode of “That’s My Momma”. Houston has been putting up basically league average numbers over the last 4 games, but they have walked away with W’s in all of them.
On the year, their pass game ranks 9th in ANY/A and the run game is 25th in wRSR. So, on paper that looks to be a rough day for the Colts through the air but they should be better able to stop the run.