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.
Sometimes the scoreboard lies. In week 14, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Indianapolis Colts final score showed an impressive 35 points, but that tally hid a very unimpressive offensive effort.
7 of the Colts points came from a defensive score and another 17 from short fields provided by the defense (turnovers) and special teams (punt return). On drives that started in their own territory, the Colts could only put up 10 points on 9 drives.
The offense had 12 drives but only achieved 16 first downs with 3 of those gifted by opponent penalty. That’s only a little over 1 scrimmage first down per drive, which is just pathetic and reflected in a far below average 64% Drive Success Rate (DSR).
The Buccaneers outstanding run defense put the onus on Jacoby Brissett to deliver through the air. Overall, he didn’t.
His first pass was a 46 yard TD bomb and he had 2 other explosive pass plays for a total of 133 yards on those 3 passes. Those big pass plays contributed to a fairly decent yardage efficiency (16th NY/A). However, that overall measure is clearly skewed as he threw the ball another 33 times and only managed 118 more yards, which is only about 3.5 yards per attempt.
Passing Success Rate (wPSR) is not heavily skewed by individual plays as it is basically just the % of passes that were successful and in that measure he ranked 31st for the week. A 29th 1st/db shows that he couldn’t move the ball well and a 24th ranked EPA/ply means that the value of his average pass was not very good.
This was not surprising. Running against the #1 run defense by DVOA is difficult to say the least. Remove Brissett’s scramble runs and you are left with a designed run game that totaled only 4 first downs and 49 yards on the day.
It shouldn’t be shocking that by success rate, the Colts run game ranked 27th (wRSR). it was even worse than the passing game.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT MATCH-UP
Many people will point to the scoreboard and claim that I have no idea what I am talking about. To those people, I say re-watch the game and keep a tally of all the good plays the offense made. You’re not going to run out of fingers.
As pennance for such a bad performance, the Colts get to go to the Superdome and play the New Orleans Saints and their 7th ranked defense (by weighted DVOA). Hooray, we get to be embarrassed in prime time.
Their pass defense doesn’t give up a lot of 1st downs (10th 1st/db against) and they have the 4th most sacks of any defense which keeps net yardage efficiency in check (10th NY/A against). If the O-line can’t elevate an already good pass block game (4th best pass block win rate) then it may be a rough day for Jacoby Brissett.
The Saints run defense may be even better, giving up only 4.6 first downs per game and notching a 4th best defensive rushing success rate (wRSR against).