Each week during the season, I will be walking through the data from the previous Colts game analyzing the numbers to form a sort of “what happened” narrative as well as comparing the Colts against all other teams in the league. For a glossary of the stats listed, reference Stats for the 2019 Season. Thanks to Pro Football Reference, NFL.com and the nflSCrapR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.
For the Indianapolis Colts fans that think Jacoby Brissett is “the guy”, the first drive against the Houston Texans is strong evidence why they may be right; a 94 yard, mechanical, efficient, pass-heavy drive extended by Brissett’s arm and methodical handling of the Texans pressure defense that ended with the first of 4 TDs on the day. It was a thing of beauty . . . then we turned it over on downs and lost a fumble.
Given the up and down first quarter, I guess it’s not surprising that the Colts scored on the next 3 drives and then punted the rest of the game. All that matters though is the performance as a whole and this was a good one.
My two biggest knocks on Brissett has been his ability to handle pressure and being able to move the chains with his arm. On Sunday he killed it in both of those measures.
Brissett took 1 sack on the day but in general he handled the Texans pass rush beautifully maintaining a 7.7 NY/A. On blitzes, he was quickly finding the open man and hitting him for gains, whereas 2017 Brissett would have taken sacks on a lot of those plays.
He also accounted for all scrimmage first downs, racking up 18 passing firsts. That is unprecedented in his career. Even against Atlanta, where he threw for 15 first downs, the run game chipped in another 7. He truly put the team on his back this week.
The key to this performance was his increased average depth of target (7.6 yards vs 5.1 against KC). Brissett stretched the field and had success hitting on the deeper passes, with an average of 5.6 air yards per completion. Add to that a season high YAC of 7.2 yards and you get a highly efficient and productive passing game that moves the chains.
This was easily the most anemic rushing performance the Colts have put up this year. Hey at least we beat Chicago.
If Brissett can maintain the high level of play from this game then the run game can afford to be an afterthought. Absent that however, the rushing game has to find its legs again . . . see what I did there?
CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP
The Colts offense is one of the best in the league ranked 9th in DVOA, but so is the defense of the Denver Broncos (5th by DVOA) who is up next on the schedule.