Each week during the season, I will be walking through the data from the previous Colts game and 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.
The Colts offense wasn’t that strong in week 15, putting up their 5th lowest point total of the year (excluding the blocked punt TD). Despite having the 5th best starting field position of any team, the offense converted only 15 of 21 series, which places their 71.4% DSR at a very “meh” 46th percentile.
Take a moment and enjoy the Bucs being dead last in ppd this week.
The Colts, on the other hand, had 2.22 ppd, which ties for 10th highest. However, the supporting stats come in a bit lower (14th DSR, 13th epa/ply). So, basically, the Colts moved the ball fairly well off of plays that had a bit higher than average value, and they got a few more points than expected out of it. Good, but not great.
A 20% third down conversion rate is bad (29th), but their overall 30% conversion rate, which is what matters most, was good (12th), showing that the team managed early down conversions often. None of those first downs were gained from penalties and only 3 of them came from passes.
On the year, the offense is the 6th most productive in terms of ppd. DSR and EPA per play also rank 6th best. So, for those continually railing on Reich, umm . . . shut up?
The Colts have had a slightly easier than average schedule, so Football Outsiders isn’t as high on the Colts as I am, ranking the offense 10th. However, that moves up to 6th in their weighted measure, which cares more about recent games then those form the start of the year.
At the team level, the Colts end up dead last in passing efficiency, even though Mike Glennon had worse numbers than Carson Wentz.
I already went over the details in my QB stats article, but Wentz was terrible. Pick a number, it was bad. He couldn’t complete passes, he couldn’t get first downs, and he turned the ball over. You know what, you saw the game. Let’s just put it behind us.
For the year, Wentz is 16th in epa efficiency. That is despite ranking only 25th in accuracy, 23rd in first down completions, and 20th in passing success rate. DVOA ranks the Colts passing 20th, and I say yep.
I warned last week that Wentz’s efficiency might be artificially high, and that his low supporting numbers likely signal a regression. I was right in week 15. Let’s hope I’m wrong from here on out.
Despite rushing more than 200 yards, I have the Colts run game ranked only 4th on the week. Since my measure is a per play metric, they lost out to teams that had a bit more success (first downs, TDs, etc.) with similar or smaller volume.
In conversion rate, the Colts ranked 7th, but they shot up to 3rd in epa per carry and 2nd in yards per carry. And, of course, there were 4 explosive plays for 127 yards, including a game clinching 67 yard TD run from Jonathon Taylor.
Interestingly, by standard success rate, which is measured by the % of carries with an EPA > 0, the Colts ranked only 13th. That is a clear example of why I created an adjusted success rate metric, so that it can be more nuanced and better capture true success.
Driven by an MVP-worthy season from Jonathon Taylor, the Colts rush game ranks #1 in adjusted RSR and #1 in rushing DVOA. King Henry indeed.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
While I am happy with the win, I am not particularly happy with the overall offense. The run game was stellar, but that is almost a given now. I want to see the pass game take the next step, and it keeps not happening. We are currently set up to have success as a run first team, but that is hard to maintain. At some point, we will need a pass game to fall back on, and that requires a QB that can consistently move the ball down the field with his arm. I’m not seeing that from Wentz.
Week 16 is an away game at the Cardinals, who boast a 5th ranked defense (DVOA). They give up the 8th fewest points per drive and 6th least epa per play. They’ve given up fewer than 20 points 7 times this year, but those games were towards the beginning of the year. Over their last 5 games, their opponents have averaged over 27 points.
Against the pass, Arizona ranks 4th in defensive DVOA and 4th in least epa/d allowed, so they are very stingy. Wentz will be facing an uphill battle.
On the ground, the Cards are 8th in defensive DVOA, but I rank them more towards the middle of the pack with a 14th spot in aRSR. They give up a lot of first downs (7th highest 1st%) and a lot of yards (7th highest ypc), which is good because we have a running back who likes to accumulate both.
As of this writing, the Colts are 1 point dogs.