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Week 5: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: OCT 11 Colts at Ravens Photo by Randy Litzinger/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.

For the first 34 minutes on 4 Baltimore drives, the Indianapolis defense was stout, limiting the Ravens to 0 points, 3 first downs, and only 17 yards per drive. Then the rest of the game happened.

The next two Ravens’ drives averaged 84 yards, but a stop at the 4-yard line and a Lamar Jackson fumble kept the damage to just 3 points. The rest of the night would be 4 consecutive opponent TD drives averaging 74 yards.

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, PPG, Yds, P/R%, DSR, yds/srs, Strt Fld, xOPPD, yds/ply, EPA/ply, adj TSR, 1st/ply, Pen 1st/ Yds, 3DC, 3rd ytg, Expl Plys, TO, TOP%

The 26th ranking of points per drive against was well earned as the Indy defense could not stop Baltimore from getting first downs (30th ranked DSR, 31st 1st down per play). Over 41% of Baltimore’s plays were first downs or TDs. That is what happens when you give up 7.5 yards per play (28th).

Just pathetic.


Mouseover definitions: epa/d, PSR, Cmp, Att, Yds, TD, Int, Sk, Sk Y, 1st/d, ny/d, cmp %, aDOT, cpoe, YBC, YAC, 20+ #/Yd

Only Brady’s 5 TD game against Miami had more epa efficiency than what the Colts let Lamar Jackson have. This was by far Jackson’s most successful passing game this year and he tore through the Colts defense like they weren’t even there.

A 73.1% passing success rate is ludicrous. It’s beyond ludicrous, it’s a story you tell rookie cornerbacks to scare them when you tuck them in at night. Since 1999, there have been 5,688 regular-season games with 11,376 offenses taking the field. In all of those games, a higher passing success rate was only ever achieved 46 times*: once by Andrew Luck and 9 times by Peyton Manning.

*with a minimum of 15 drop-backs


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

While the passing defense was atrocious, the rushing defense was glorious. Outside of QB scrambles, the Ravens managed only 39 yards on 18 carries, which is the worst ypc of any team (2.2 ypc). They had no explosive carries, only 3 first downs, and the worst epa per carry in week 5.


People have called this game a defensive collapse, but it really is just who our defense is. By DVOA, the Colts pass defense ranks 30th. We rank 23rd in points per drive against and have given up the 2nd highest first down conversion rate to opponents. We can stop the run (2nd DVOA), but overall, they just aren’t good.

Speaking of not good, the Houston offense visits Indy in week 6. DVOA ranks them 30th and I have them 27th in points per drive and 31st in DSR. On the ground, they are league-worst (32nd aRSR, 32nd DVOA) so the stout Indy run defense should shut them down making them 1 dimensional. That leaves an air attack ranked 24th by DVOA but 18th in epa/d so far this year. Can our flailing pass defense find its resolve?