The story of the Colts’ season four games-in has been less about the offense and more about the dominant play of their defense. Say what you will about the competition — or lack thereof — that this team has played through the first quarter of the season, but this Colts team has shown signs of valuable intangibles that could easily carry over into the tougher portion of their schedule.
The defense, which is currently the NFL’s best, isn’t the concern for a change. It’s the offense that should be garnering more attention — and not for the reasons you’re probably thinking. While the defense has been the definition of “shutdown” over these last three weeks, the offense is struggling to get things going.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Colts’ offense ranks 18th in PPG with 25.8. And while that may not seem like a problem now, it can easily become one when you consider the amount of offensive points scored in just their last two games (22 vs. Jets and 19 vs. Bears).
Additionally, the Colts are also one of the NFL’s worst third down offenses, converting on just 34.62 percent, according to teamrankings.com. Throw in an NFL-worst 3.5/YPC in the running game, and you’ve potentially got a big problem on your hands if the offense can’t get more creative moving forward.
Indy’s schedule only gets tougher with matchups vs. Aaron Rodgers’ Packers and Lamar Jackson’s Ravens, and given how well both Baltimore and Green Bay are playing right now, 19 and 22-point performances may not be enough to go toe-to-toe with two of the NFL’s most dominant offenses.
The losses of running back Marlon Mack and wideout Paris Campbell certainly don’t help this offense’s struggles, but that’s part of playing in the NFL. Injuries happen, and the Colts must still find ways to adjust accordingly.
This issue runs much deeper than just the amount of points being scored on the offensive side of the ball. The amount of yards this unit is gaining per play is also something that needs to be addressed moving forward, too. According to PFF IND Colts, the offense ranks fourth in yards per play in quarters 1 and 2 with 6.5, and 29th in quarters 3 and 4 with only 4.5 yards per play.
Going against offensive powerhouses like Kansas City and Baltimore can already be challenging enough, but in order to be able to compete with these kinds of teams, the Colts must find a way to be more fundamentally sound on offense.
Speaking of offensive matchups, the team gets a perfect opportunity to address their offensive concerns as they face the Cleveland Browns— a team whose defense currently ranks 25th in the NFL, on Sunday. And with the Browns coming off a 48-point performance against the Cowboys, scoring just 19 points won’t likely be enough to earn this team its fourth-straight win.
Yes, the defense is excellent. There’s no denying that. But it can’t continue to carry this team to victory week in and week out. If the Colts wish to become legitimate contenders, they must find a way to play complementary football.