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Week 9: Colts Offense by the Numbers

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Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

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.

Do I really have to do this? Fine.

I was actually surprised to see that the Colts Drive Success Rate (DSR) was as high as it was. Not that 69% is good (it’s not), bur rather it felt like it should have been much lower. Some of that is due to some first downs on the last garbage drive. But even aside from that, the Colts managed 17 first downs which isn’t that terrible.

It was turnovers that killed it. You can’t extend drives when the opponent has the ball.

Also, when you need a TD and a field goal to tie, you take the field goal when it is staring you in the face.


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 offense was dead last in points per drive. That feels right. Average efficiency (EPA/ply 27th) and success rate (wTSR 26th) agree.

DSR was 23rd and 1st down conversion rate (1st/ply) was 21st. Not good, but it verifies that we left points on the field and played a bit better than the score would lead you to believe.

On the season (below), we are 23rd in points (adj PPD), 18th in DSR, 23rd in efficiency (EPA/ply), 21st in success (wTSR) and 20th in converting first downs. So, I would call that below average.


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

Miserable, pathetic, washed up . . . but enough about Tom Brady. Philip Rivers tried hard to be the worst QB on the week, but managed to land 1 spot shy.

He was bad across the board. Accuracy (27th cpoe) and yardage efficiency (26th NY/db), which are normally his strengths, were terrible. The average distance of his completed passes was 2.7 yards (YBC), which was the shortest of any QB. The only way you can succeed with passes that short are to be very accurate — he wasn’t — and for passes to gain a lot of YAC (7th).

On the year, Rivers has been better than he was last year, but not as good as he was prior to that. I expect his numbers to creep up as the season goes on, but clearly, he is not “the answer”. Of course, I don’t think anyone actually ever thought he would be.


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

Amid all the brouhaha about how bad the offense was, the team rushed for a 3rd highest 5.3 yards per carry on 21 touches that garnered 6 first downs and a TD. That is the 6th best conversion rate for the week (1st/c). In other words, outside of the fumble, the run game was dare I say it . . . good?

If game script had not dictated so much 2nd half passing, we may have have run it more than 5 times and then who knows?


This was such a winnable game, much more so than I thought going in. It’s frustrating that Rivers picked this game to have his worst performance, but so be it. I don’t think this game was indicative of his performance or the offense in general, going forward, so I’m just putting it behind me. GAH! I mean if the fumble doesn’t happen or the INT call . . . nope, nope . . . putting it behind me . . . Seriously, we had them stopped! Okay, I’m done . . . stupid officiating.

Don’t look now but it’s a critical divisional matchup . . . on Thursday. The Titans hold a 1 game division lead and are 1 point favorites going into the game. They are a good team, but their strength is not their defense.

Giving up 2.4 points per drive (16th), the Titan defense is ranked 18th by Football Outsiders in DVOA. I think they are actually worse than that. They rank 25th in DSR against and 22nd in play efficiency given up (EPA/ply), which means teams are leaving points on the field against them. This is supported by their 2.8 expected points per drive against, which ranks 23rd. They also have the league’s worst 3rd down defense, giving up 55.4% conversions. They are very, very vulnerable.

Against the pass, they rank 21st in EPA/db against and 21st in first down conversions per dropback. It’s no wonder why their passing defense is 24th in DVOA. If Rivers can climb back on the horse, this could be a get-well game for him.

Their defense is tougher on the ground, giving up the 14th fewest conversions per carry, ranking 15th in DVOA.

I like this matchup, even though my model favors the Titans. Stupid model. The guy who coded it is an idiot. All he talks about is numbers. I can measure this . . . blah, blah, blah . . . EPA efficiency . . . blah, blah . . . I’m boring and I sleep with a calculator. I hate that guy.