clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week 8: Colts Defense by the Numbers

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: NOV 01 Colts at Lions Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via 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.

At one time, a 69% Drive Success Rate was considered average, but in this year of elevated offensive production, that stands as a pretty bad number for Detroit. In addition, two of those drives ended with turnovers and 6 opponent points.

That all adds up to another great defensive day for the Colts.


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%

Adjusted points per drive includes the impact of the pick 6 and that vaults the defense up to 6th place on the week (1.17 ppd against). The other primary defensive stats finished similarly: 6th Drive Success Rate against, 5th EPA per play against, 5th total success rate against.

On the season, the defense has done even better: #2 adj PPD, #3 DSR, #5 EPA/ply, #3 wTSR. Even in traditional stats like total yards (#2) or points per game (#5), the Colts defense is one of the best in the league.


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

Against the Lions, the Colts held Stafford to negative EPA and the 8th worst EPA efficiency of any QB even though he managed the 3rd most passing yards. That is often the way passing yards works (accumulate them when you trail) and is why no one should use that to measure a QB.

On the year, the Colts have held QBs to the 6th lowest efficiency, the 6th lowest passing success rate, the 6th lowest first down conversion rate and the 9th lowest net yards per dropback.


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

On the ground, other than a 10 yard Stafford scramble, the Lions only gained 19 yards and a single first down. So, it is not difficult to understand that their success rate was the worst on the week. 1.6 yards per carry and a -0.56 epa/c are also both league lows.

On the season, the Colts defense has given up the 2nd least yards per carry and the 7th smallest opponent EPA per carry. Of course, those can be impacted by game script, but a 5th ranked weighted rushing success rate, which adjusts for that, supports their validity.


Solid effort by the defensive unit again. On the year, Football Outsiders ranks them #3 and my numbers agree with that.

Next up is Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Their offense doesn’t put up a lot of points (2.27 adj ppd 19th) and their ability to move the chains isn’t good (25th DSR, 22nd 1st/ply). By DVOA they rank 20th, so our defense should have a good chance to stop them.

Through the air, Lamar Jackson has not been impressive. His 0.06 EPA per dropback ranks 24th. He’s 27th in passing success rate, 24th in first down conversion rate and 23rd in Net Yards per dropback. ESPN gives him a 19th ranking in QBR and Football Outsider’s has him 25th in DYAR.

On the ground however, it is a different story. Jackson is a key part of their run game and actually leads the team in rushing yards. They average 159 non-scramble yards per game and Jackson tacks on another 19 when dodging the pass rush. On the year, they are 1st in yards per carry, 5th in EPA per carry and 6th in weighted rushing success rate. By DVOA they are rank #2.

If the Colts can limit the run game and force Jackson to beat us through the air, we will have a pretty good chance.