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Week 10: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: NOV 12 Colts at Titans

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.

An 80.6% opponent Drive Success Rate usually tells me that the Colt defense had a bad day. You will almost never hear me say this, but in this case DSR is misleading. That’s right, my go-to stat for offenses is lying and the Colts defense was good last Thursday.

Here’s where DSR went wrong. The Colts gave up 3 first downs on penalties that only moved the ball 11 yards and another 3 first downs on a garbage drive that took 3 minutes. Those 6 first downs had almost no actual impact on the game yet caused DSR to be inflated.

If I ignore those 3 penalties and the last drive, then the TEN DSR was only 64% and much more indicative of how well the Indy defense played, because that number isn’t very good.


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%

By points per drive the defense ranked 11th and by EPA per play, they were 12th. By DSR, they were 24th. DSR! Why hast thou forsaken me?!

On the season, the Colts still maintain a top 5 ranking in all of the defensive stats I care about, including DSR . . . well DSR is 6th but it’s awkward to claim that “top 6” is a thing.


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

Ryan Tannehill hasn’t had many bad days this year, but last week was one of them. He brought in the 3rd highest season EPA per dropback of any QB and left with the 11th lowest of the week.

His season yardage efficiency of 7.2 NY/db was trimmed to 4.9 on the night. His above average accuracy (cpoe) fell to 11 points below average and was the 4th worst mark in week 10. He threw much shorter and much worse than he usually does.

On the year, the Colt defense has the 6th best EPA per dropback against and the 5th best weighted passing success rate against. That’s really all I need to know to know they are really good, but I will also throw in that they are #4 in defensive DVOA.


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

Derrick Henry gonna Derrick and he did with 103 yards at 5.4 ypc and 6 first downs. Add in another 45 yards, 3 firsts and a TD for the rest of the team and that is a solid running performance, especially considering they trailed the entire 4th quarter. So, it’s not surprising that the Colts defense ranks 21st in weighted success rate against (wRSR) this week.

On the year, the numbers are much better with an 8th ranked wRSR, 6th ranked conversion rate (1st/c) and an 8th ranked EPA per carry. Football Outsiders is even more impressed giving the Colts’ run defense a 4th ranked DVOA.


This was another solid performance by the defense. The Tennessee offense came into the game ranked #3 by DVOA and they were ineffective.

So having beat the #3 offense what is left to do, but take on the #2 offense. Green Bay is no joke, with the 2nd highest points per drive, drive success rate and EPA per play. That is a trio of stats that scream “here we come”.

Aaron Rodgers is having a resurgence to the Aaron Rodgers of old ranking #1 in ESPN’s QBR, #2 in FO’s DYAR and #2 in EPA per dropback. Of 35 QBs with at least 100 attempts this year:

  • he is the 6th most accurate (cpoe)
  • he has the 4th highest yardage efficiency (NY/db)
  • he has the highest TD rate and the 3rd lowest INT rate
  • he has the 4th highest passing first down conversion rate


On the ground, they aren’t quite as good, coming in 14th in wRSR, 14th in EPA/c and 13th in DVOA. So they aren’t bad, but they are weaker on the ground.

Will the Colts concede the run to try and stop Rodgers? Can they stop Rodgers? Currently, the Colts are 1 point favorites.