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Week 5: Colts Offense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

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’s hard to argue against a great win, but against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 5, the Indianapolis Colts offense wasn’t great. In fact it wasn’t even what I would call necessarily good, rather it was grinding. Many people will conflate the two, but you can be good at one and not the other.

The game plan was great. The offense was meh . . . OK, meh+.

25 first downs and only one 3 & Out makes for an efficient day moving the ball. The Colts were in Kansas City territory on all but 2 drives. As such, it is disappointing that only 1 touchdown came of all that. If 80% of your scoring drives are field goals, that is a bad thing, even though this time, it was enough.

While getting to the red zone has been a strength for the Colts (5th ranked % of drives in red zone), converting those to TDs has been challenging (16th red zone TD Rate). If the offense could have punched in 1 or 2 of those field goal drives, I would be singing a different tune.

You may call it nitpicking an awesome achievement, but at the end of the day, the Colts only put up 19 points. I bet not many teams will ever do that against Patrick Mahomes and walk away victorious.


TEAM TOTALS

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st%, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%
19 points and 2.11 Adj PPD isn’t too impressive, ranking just 16th on the week. The efficiency numbers back that up (EPA/ply 15th, wTSR 19th, 1st% 20th). The lone contrary stat is a 9th place DSR, which means while the Colts were successful in converting first downs, it took a lot of plays (and penalty conversions) to do it.

Coming in to this game, the Colts offense ranked 5th in third down conversion rate (49%), but Sunday’s 35.7% rate ranked 14th. And with the shortest amount to gain on 3rd downs of any team (3rd ytg 4.9 yards), that is concerning. Fortunately, that gap was filled with 6 first downs from Chief penalties (most this week).

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad offensive performance. They did an excellent job of eating clock and sustaining drives, but that gets downgraded because they just couldn’t finish those drives. It was good enough to win but that is a low bar to set.


PASS TOTALS

Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, wPSR Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, Rtng, 1st%, ANY/A, NY/A, YPA, Cmp %, aDOT, aYd, YAC, 20+ #/Yd

Simply put, Jacoby Brissett was unproductive. I won’t argue if he was just executing the game plan he was given or if the receivers weren’t getting separation or the myriad of other excuses so readily put forth. All I am arguing is his numbers. They were bad.

24th in per play efficiency (EPA/ply), 21st in rate of successful plays (wPSR), 25th in 1st down rate (1st%) and 22nd in yardage efficiency (NY/A ). QBs that are below average in those 4 stats win 22% of their games. I guess this was one of them.

The average length of Brissett’s completed pass was 2.2 yards . . . 2.2 !! He had no explosive plays and the interception killed a promising drive, although I am a little more forgiving of that because INTs are not a general issue for him.

The one thing I am happy about with his play is that he is much better at dealing with pressure. He is more consistently rolling out and throwing the ball away instead of standing then ducking and playing keep away until very large men hit him. If he can take the next step and find an outlet on those roll-outs, then I think you see a lot better numbers.

On the season, my key passing stats for the Colts rank between 17th and 26th, so it is safe to say that in general I think the passing game is below average. Football Outsiders is a bit more optimistic ranking the passing unit 14th while ESPN gives Brissett an 18th rank QBR.


RUSH TOTALS

Mouseover definitions: wRSR, Yds, Car, TD, Fum Lost, RSR, 1st%, YPC, 10+ #/Yd, 3rd, 3DC

The run game, once again, lifted the Colts offense. 12 first downs and 5 explosive plays for 74 yards and 180 total yards are the key takeaways here. The overall success rate is deflated somewhat with the sheer volume of runs. The Colts ran it on 63% of 1st and 2nd downs which is the 5th most of any team in week 5.

I can’t overstate how critical the run game has been for the Colts. On the year, they are 13th in efficiency but 3rd in ability to get first downs with 29.6% of all runs resulting in a conversion (1st%) and a 3rd best 75% third down conversion rate (3DC). That is game-changing, literally and figuratively. As long as the run game continues to move the chains, the offense will continue to score.


CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP

5 Weeks in and the offense is pretty much solidifying as “run first”. I would feel a lot better about that if the other phases of the game were stronger, but so far the offense is working and on the season, I have them top 10 in most stats I care about (8th Adj PPD, 4th DSR, 7th EPA/ply, 10th 1st%).

Next up is the Houston Texans but not until week 7 as the Colts will enjoy a much needed bye week. The Texans give up 22 points a game but only 1.98 Adj PPD ranking their defense 15th on the year. They don’t commit a lot of penalties so the Colts offense will have to come by it honestly.

Their pass defense isn’t that great, ranking 19th in per play efficiency against (EPA/ply) and 23rd in successful pass rate against (wPSR). They give up a lot of first downs (23rd 1st% against) but not a lot of net yards (13th NY/A against), primarily due to a potent pass rush averaging 3 sacks a game (12th). This will be an excellent test to see if Brissett can continue to progress in avoiding pressure.

The Houston rush defense is no joke; 7th in wRSR and 11th in first down conversions against (1st%). Football Outsiders has them 6th by DVOA. Mack & Co. will have their work cut out for them.

On paper, I don’t like this match up at all. If the Texans defense can slow the Colts run game, then we will have to rely on Brissett to move the chains with his arm, something he has not done well for most of the year.


SEASON TOTALS

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st%, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%
Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, wPSR Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, Rtng, 1st%, ANY/A, NY/A, YPA, Cmp %, aDOT, aYd, YAC, 20+ #/Yd
Mouseover definitions: wRSR, Yds, Car, TD, Fum Lost, RSR, 1st%, YPC, 10+ #/Yd, 3rd, 3DC