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Week 4: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Syndication: Palm Beach Post Bill Ingram / USA TODAY NETWORK

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.

Let’s be clear. The Miami Dolphins’ offense isn’t good. They weren’t good with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm and they certainly didn’t get better with Jacoby Brissett. Prior to week 4, the most offensive points they had scored in 4 quarters was 18. So, anything other than a dominating performance by the Colts defense would have been a disappointment.

Thankfully, the defense did not disappoint. On the first 8 drives, the colts held Miami to 3 points and a pitiful 8 yards per drive. It was only with a 17 point 4th quarter deficit that Miami was able to put together anything resembling an offense.

Miami only converted 65% of their series which is the 7th lowest rate in week 4.


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%


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

Brissett was limited to the 10th lowest epa efficiency and managed only 5.0 yards per drop-back (7th lowest ny/d).

He did accumulate the 13th highest passing 1st down rate, but that was completely due to the last 2 drives when the game was essentially over.


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

The Colts made sure that Miami had no run game and I mean that almost literally. Outside of QB scrambles, the Dolphins had 27 rushing yards, no first downs, and a 1.9 yard per carry average.

I’m amazed that was only the 3rd best defensive performance of the week.


Miami was not supposed to be much of a challenge offensively and they weren’t. The Colts defense did what you are supposed to do when playing a bad offense: they shut them down. Unfortunately, in week 5 the Baltimore Ravens offense will be a bit better as they currently rank 10th in DVOA through 4 weeks.

Lamar Jackson is a dual-threat QB, but he is a better runner than he is a passer. Through the air, he is always looking for the deep ball, with the 5th highest % of attempts of 20+ yards. However, his success on those throws only ranks 24th among all QBs (epa/d). He holds the ball longer than anyone (1st TTT), waiting for those plays to develop and inviting the 8th most pressure along with the 8th highest sack rate. He’s turned the ball over 5 times (4th highest TO%) and he hasn’t thrown many TDs (24th TD%). Overall, he ranks 20th in epa efficiency so, there are a lot of vulnerabilities for the Colts to attack.

The Baltimore ground game, however, is much more dangerous. On designed runs, the Ravens rank #2 in adj. rush success rate and #7 in DVOA, averaging the 4th most rushing yards per game. They have the 6th highest yards per carry and 8th highest epa per carry. They recently benched Ty Williams for fumbling issues and so now rely on Latavius Murray with backup from older veterans Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell. Jackson is once again the biggest threat here as he makes the largest value running plays on the team.

By DVOA, the Colts defense ranks 5th against the run and 26th against the pass, so this is an interesting match-up. The Ravens offense only ranks 20th in points per drive, so if we can control their running and not give up the deep pass, the Colts might have a shot.