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Week 1: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-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.

The Colts offense didn’t do their defense any favors,turning the ball over and gifting the Jacksonville Jaguars two scoring drives that started deep in Colts territory. Of course, the defense did itself no favors either, by allowing the Jags to put up 17 points on 3 other drives.

The ability to move the chains is expressed in Drive Success Rate (DSR) and Jacksonville converted 22 series into 14 first downs and 3 TDs for a healthy 77.3% mark, which ranks the Colts defense at 20th on the week.

Based on their level of play (DSR, series length, starting fld pos), Jacksonville’s expected point total was about 21, which they easily exceeded racking up 10 points off of Indy turnovers.


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 (Adj PPD), the Colts placed 26th on the week, which is in line with the per play efficiency given up (24th EPA/ply), as well as the weighted total success rate against (24th wTSR). Even though some of the points given up can be attributed to the Colts offense, the defense was not able to stop the Jags in general.


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

When you let Gardner Minshew go 19 for 20, that’s a bad day . . . GARDNER MINSHEW!!

A 9th ranked Jaguar passing efficiency (EPA/db) means the Colts D ranked 24th in stopping the pass. That is confusing to me, because the Colts gathered 4 sacks and kept Jacksonville to the shortest passing of any team on Sunday with a 4.5 average depth of target (aDOT 32nd). So, where did all the Jacksonville efficiency came from? Oh that’s right, I forgot about the 95% completion rate and giving up first downs on almost 40% of passes. Yeah, that would do it.


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

Well, the good news is that the rushing defense showed up limiting Leonard Fournette the Jacksonville rushers to 72 yards at 3.8 yards per carry (YPC). They did manage 4 rushing first downs, but by weighted value (wRSR) the Colts rush defense ranks 2nd in week 1.

Did the Giants rushers really only manage 7 yards? That’s . . . different.


The defense did force 3 punts and was handed a bad hand on 2 drives off of turnovers, but overall this was not an impressive effort. They will face QBs a lot better than Gardner Minshew this season.

Next up is Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. The main story out of Minnesota last week was the beat down that Aaron Rodgers delivered but Cousins had himself a very good game as well. The traditional QB stats don’t jump off the page, but he managed over 10 yards per attempt and finished 6th in EPA per dropback, while leading the team to the 6th most points per drive of any offense. He was airing the ball out with the 3rd longest average depth of target on the week. The Colts will need to keep a lid on Adam Thielen.

The Viking rushers put up 100 yards and 7 first downs at a clip of 5.6 yards per carry. Football Outsiders ranks that effort as 2nd best by DVOA.

Even accounting for all of that, somehow the Colts are still favored.