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.
There was a lot of unhappiness and anger towards the Indianapolis Colts offense in week 11 as they only managed to score 17 points against the Houston Texans. However, it was a slow-paced game with the Colts only seeing 9 drives, so that outcome shouldn’t be that unexpected.
Bottom line: this offense was better than average for a slow paced, run the ball, conservative, safe game.
The average yards to gain on 3rd downs was 5.4 yards which is the shortest of any team on the week and a tribute to the improvement on 1st and 2nd downs. As such, it’s not surprising that the Colts were also best at converting those plays (1st 3DC).
The problem was there were not a lot of explosive plays so the converted series were shorter than average and shorter series require more series to reach the end zone. But hey, no turnovers either. Conservative. Safe.
In the past, this problem has been swept under the rug with short touchdown passes that boosted the perceived value of the passing game and launched the Colts to slim margin wins. However, that TD pace has slowed with Brissett throwing 1 TD and 1 pick in his last 3 full game starts and I think fans are starting to realize what not being able to average more than 6 yards a pass gets you; a safe, conservative offense that unless the run game explodes will not score much. That’s when 1 score wins can easily become 1 score losses.
I find it ironic that in games where Brissett put up similar numbers (JAX, TEN, KC) he was praised, but for this game he is being roasted. I guess wins and losses tend to do that.
If you need 200+ yards a game from your rushing offense to win, then good luck with that.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP
Safe. Conservative. Average. Get used to it.
Next up is the Tennessee Titans and a defense that started the year as one of the toughest in the league but has since dropped off. Currently ranked 16th by DVOA, they gave up 15.3 points per game with Mariota as the starter, but 26.3 points since Ryan Tannehill took over. I’m not sure how a change at QB makes the defense worse, but there it is.
Unfortunately, the same opportunity won’t exist in the run game. Here, Football Outsiders and I are on the same page; the TEN run defense is really good (DVOA 5th, wRSR 6th, EPA/c 3rd). Marlon Mack will still be out so Jonathan Williams and Nyheim Hines (and Wilkins?) have their work cut out for them.