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.
It took me a bumper to bumper morning drive, 3 flight delays, 1 canceled flight, a re-book through Sacramento and 15 hours to get me from Denver to L.A. today and on top of that I spent 2 of those hours watching the movie “Glass”. That is bliss compared to watching the Indianapolis Colts offense against the Denver Broncos defense last Sunday.
The 65.5% Drive Success Rate is by far the lowest number on the year as is the 1.4 points per drive. It took 6 drives to rack up 6 points. 3 sacks and a fumble later and the Colts somehow walked away with a “W”.
As previously mentioned the drive stats were bad (Adj PPD 21st, DSR, 23rd) but the play efficiency stats were better . . . not good, but better (EPA/ply 18th, wTSR, 18th, 1st% 17th).
Notice the third down conversion rate of 33%. That is the worst so far this year and it came with the second shortest avg yards to gain of any team (5.5 ytg). Last year the Colts had the highest third down conversion rate in the league (48.6%). This year, we started out good but there has been a pretty steady decline since.
That’s not encouraging.
The Denver pass defense is ranked 5th in DVOA this week, so it’s not surprising that Jacoby Brissett did not have a good day. Yes, he was
the hero one of the heroes on the last drive that made the win possible, but he was also a big reason why a come from behind drive was necessary in the first place.
In three of the big 4 passing stats he finished in the lower half of QBs on the week (EPA/ply 23rd, wPSR 21st, 1st% 18th). However, he actually finished with a 6.6 NY/A which ranks 11th on the week (but still below league average). Considering that he took 4 sacks that is not bad at all.
The main driver of that result was an increased depth of throw (8.2 aDOT), which lead to his longest avg completed air yards on the year (7.5 aYD). These longer throws are what is necessary for him to take the next step, but it’s going to have to come with a completion rate higher than 60% to be successful.
The rushing game was actually not as bad as the general narrative that I have been reading. It was pretty efficient, contributing almost half of the scrimmage first downs (7 of 16) and the only TD on the day making for an 11th ranked wRSR.
The run game contributed positive EPA and Brissett’s scrambles (6 for 34 yds, 1 first down) was a good portion of that. Marlon Mack may have not killed it (76 yds, 4.0 ypc) but in EPA per carry he ranked 12th out of 29 RBs with at least 10 carries.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP
It’s really frustrating to have to talk about a win in negative terms, but this was an ineffective offense. Yes it was against a good defense, which explains a lot of it but that doesn’t change the fact that the offense was bad.
Next Sunday, the Colts travel to face another good defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers (9th in DVOA, 12th in Adj PPD against). According to Football Outsiders, the Steelers are better against the pass than they are the run (10th pass defense DVOA, 16th rush defense DVOA).
They rack up 3.4 sacks per game (5th most), limiting opposing QB yardage efficiency (NY/A against 10th). This will be a strong test to see if Jacoby can stretch the field while still minimizing losses like he did this past week.
Against the run the Steeler’s give up a lot of first downs (6.7 per game, 23rd), so if the Colts can again create a lot of short 3rd downs, they may find more success on the ground.