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, NFL.com, Football Outsiders, and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.
In week 4, the Colts offense was finally able to finish drives, punching their way into the end zone 3 times and taking a knee on what would likely have been a 4th TD drive.
It wasn’t all good news, though. Once again, pressure was a factor as the initial drives stalled on QB sacks, but overall the team was able to move the chains on 76.9% of their series, the highest mark so far this year.
The 7th best starting field position (thank you defense and special teams) helped the offense put up an average of 3.0 points per drive, which was also 7th best.
Overall EPA efficiency was 10th highest, but yards per play was only 19th, meaning the team executed when it mattered most. A related stat that stands out is the 23rd ranked 1st downs per play, specifically in relation to the 15th ranked Drive Success Rate. This means the team took more plays to move the chains than the average team, but move the chains they did. Obviously, you would rather convert on fewer plays and earlier in the series, but as long as the series converts then no harm no foul.
This was the best the Colts offense has played so far this year against what Football Outsiders ranks as the 13th best defense. I’m not so sure I agree with that ranking but hey! it makes us look good so I’ll go with it.
Even though he only had 210 net yards, Carson Wentz made some high-value plays. I’ll take a 7th best epa efficiency every day and twice on Sunday.
The fly in the ointment though is that his 6.2 net yards per drop-back was only 19th best and his conversion rate from passes was 25th. I can guarantee that if those numbers don’t improve then the passing game will crash back down.
The driver of that poor yardage efficiency is the 32nd ranked YAC. Even when accounting for passing depth, that is still -1.9 yards per completion below expectation (30th yacoe). Add the missing 1.9 yards to the 6.2 ny/db and you get 8.1 yards which would have been a top 10 measure that converts more series.
YAC isn’t 100% a receiver issue, but 32nd? What the hell?
For the 2nd week in a row the Colts run game was successful. 9 first downs and a TD with 5 explosive rushes combine to make the 8th best adjusted success rate this week. On the year, I have the Colts ground game as the 13th best in the league.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
The overall outcome was very good even though some of the pieces that comprised it were not. It was certainly a step forward for Wentz, although he’s still got a lot to clean up. The run game was very promising. The Colts offense needed a get-well game and this was it.
On Monday Night the Colts face the 12th ranked (by DVOA) Baltimore Ravens defense. Considering the Dolphins were ranked 13th, this opponent should be similar, right? . . . right? No.
The Ravens D has given up the 9th fewest points per drive and the 14th lowest epa efficiency, whereas the Miami defense was 21st in both those measures. I don’t care what Football Outsiders says, the Ravens defense will be tougher.
Against the pass, they rank 15th in epa/d against and 16th in preventing passing 1st downs conversions and are the 15th stingiest in net yardage efficiency: so, a bit above average. They are tougher on the ground, though, with the 8th best (lowest) adj success rate against and the 10th ranked defensive rushing DVOA.
This is not an insurmountable defense, but it will be strength against strength in the run game, so the pass game has to step up if we are to put a lot of points on the board.