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 sometimes hard to see a good performances in a loss. With so muck talk about pick-sixes and missed field goals its easy to overlook what went right. In week 9, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts defense played a brilliant game.
While the scoreboard shows 26 Steeler points, the defense only gave up 19. In addition, they helped the offense out with 2 points of their own on a Justin Houston sack for a safety.
1.7 points per drive and a 63% DSR is a very good defensive day. The Colts limited the Steelers to just 17 first downs and forced four 3 & Outs.
This was easily the best Colts defensive performance on the year.
Pittsburgh only managed 273 total yards which is 6th fewest of any team in week 9. That agrees with all of the main stats as the Colts limited the Steeler’s per play value (4th EPA/pl against, 5th wTSR against) which kept them from moving the chains (5th DSR against, 2nd 1st% against).
The Colts only gave up 2 explosive plays and they forced 2 turnovers. About the only negative on the day is giving up 3 first downs on penalties (54 yards), all of which were scoring drives.
Against the pass, the Colts shut down Mason Rudolph forcing him to a negative EPA total on the day (7th EPA/pl against). He had trouble moving the ball with his arm (11th 1st% against) and only managed slightly over 5 yards per dropback (6th NY/A).
He had a good completion rate but that came at the cost of yards as he was forced into checkdowns frequently (4th aDOT against). His average completed pass was only thrown for 3 yards (4th aYD against).
The Colts limited Rudolph to just one explosive pass play, far below league average and below Rudolph’s normal output.
As good as the defense was against the pass, they may have been better against the run, giving up only 3 first downs and limiting successful plays to just 23 % of all carries (6th wRSR).
There was 1 explosive rush that resulted in a 45 yard gain on a drive that ended with a successful field goal, but that 1 play was half of the Pittsburgh total rushing volume on the day.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP
We really should have won this game. The offense was productive and the defense was lights out.
Next up is the Miami Dolphins offense, which is ranked 2nd to last by DVOA. My numbers --which don’t account for opponent strength -- rank them a little higher at around 25th-ish. Either way, they don’t seem to be very good.
In the passing game, they don’t add much value per dropback ( 22nd EPA/pl, 30th wPSR, 22nd NY/A) and they have trouble getting first downs through the air (28th 1st%).
They like to pass deep (5th longest aDOT), but also give up 1.5 picks a game. I mean it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, so need I say more? They give up 4 sacks a game (3rd most), so look for Justin Houston to add to his numbers.
Run-wise they aren’t much better, finding success on only 31% of carries (19th RSR, 20th wRSR, 22nd 1st%). They only average 88 rush yards per game (25th) but that may be primarily because they have played from a deficit most of the year.
All in all this is a much better match up then Pittsburgh was. Here’s hoping the defense has a repeat performance.