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Week 3: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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 Season Stats. Thanks to Pro Football Reference,, Football Outsiders and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

Ho-hum. Another week, another #1 defensive performance.

The Jets second drive (you know the one after the first pick 6) was a slow methodical march down the field into the endzone. That was somewhat worrisome, but then the rest of the day happened. The Jets only entered the Colts side of the field one other time and that didn’t end so well for them.

Let’s add up the damage: 60.0% DSR, 3 INTs, 2 pick-6s, 2 sacks, 1 safety, 1 turnover on downs, 9 drives of less than 20 yards and only 7 points given up. That’ll do pig.

Of course, most significantly, the Colts defense forced the Jets to lose the time of possession battle by 8 seconds. I mean, if Sam Darnold had gotten 9 more seconds of offense, the Colts likely lose this game.


Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, xOPPD, Strt Fld, EPA/ply, wTSR, 1st/ply, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%

The numbers speak for themselves: #1 Adjusted points per drive. #1 points per game against. #1 EPA per play against, 2nd lowest DSR given up, 2nd lowest opponent play success rate, 3rd lowest opponent first down conversion rate, 3rd most turnovers (tied), 4th fewest yards against . . .

. . . 16th opponent TOP.


Mouseover definitions: EPA/db, PSR, wPSR, Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, 1st/db, NY/A, Cmp %, aDOT, cpoe, YBC, YAC, 20+ #/Yd

No words. They should have sent a poet.


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

What’s this? A chart where the defense isn’t the best at everything?

This is the rare example where yards per carry (3.7, 12th) pretty much agrees with the advanced stats (12th EPA/c, 10th wRSR). A good defense and game script prevented the Jets from breaking 100 yards and limited them to 6 first downs and no rushing TDs.


This was a beat down in the first degree . . . wait a minute, I wrote that last week. Hold on.

new_conclusion = week_2_defense[‘conclusion’].copy()

new_conclusion.replace(“Minnesota”, ”New York Jets”)


This was a beat down in the first degree of the New York Jets offense. The defense did everything you want a defense to do. There just isn’t much nuance to analyze because it was such a dominant performance. A++++ on the week.


Next up is Nick Foles and the Eagles Rams Chiefs Eagles Jaguars Bears offense. It’s always tough to evaluate a team with a “new” QB, but on the year the Bears offense ranks only 20th in points per drive.

Mitchell Trubisky’s 2020 effort placed 22nd by value efficiency (0.07 EPA/ply) and 28th in yardage efficiency (6.0 NY/db), which is why he is sitting this one out. Nick Foles was a mixed bag in relief. He put up great value efficiency (0.39 EPA/ply) but had horrible success rate (40% PSR).

Basically, most of his plays were bad but he hit on some big plays like a 29 yarder on 4th & 6 and the game tying and game winning TDs. So, if you believe in “clutch” then he was awesome, but if you believe in consistently being good, then not so much.

Run-wise, the Bears are a bit below average (19th DVOA, 18th wRSR, 17th ypc, 16th EPA/c).