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Week 1: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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 defense let the Seahawks score 3 TDs on their first 4 drives which I guess isn’t the worst first half of football you could play, but it’s next to it.

In the 2nd half, the defense found its resolve, forcing a fumble and yielding only 51 yards on the first 4 drives of the half. However, that came too late and a 4th quarter SEA touchdown put the game out of reach.

SEA managed 18 first downs on 24 series for a Drive Success Rate (DSR) of 75% and the 6th highest yards gained per series on the week.


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

2.8 Points per Drive against ranks 23rd on the week, which corresponds exactly to epa efficiency (epa/ply) and first down conversions allowed (1st/ply). So the weak defensive effort was, well, deserved.

I guess a semi-bright spot is that the Seahawks had the shortest yardage to gain on 3rd downs . . . that’s not the bright spot, that’s bad. The bright spot is that off of those short-yardage situations, they only managed the 15th best 3rd down conversion rate. OK, so that’s not really bright . . . it’s more of a dimly lit spot.

The Colts defense may have given up 6 explosive plays for 190 yards and 2 TDs, but they also held Seattle to the 3rd lowest Time of Possession . . . so there.


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

As is Seattle’s way, they didn’t put up high passing volume, but they get the most out of it. In week 1, Russell Wilson earned the 7th best passing epa efficiency and the 2nd highest TD rate.

His net yards per attempt, something that he has historically not been that great at, was a 4th best 9.1 yds. Think about that for a minute. Every time Wilson dropped back to pass, they gained 9.1 yds on average. That is a QB having their way with a defense.


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

Behind Chris Carson, Seattle had the 3rd best yards per carry of any team, but a forced fumble dropped their epa efficiency to 10th and they only had the 18th best rushing conversion rate with no TDs. So, that all combines to give the Indy defense a 17th rank against the run in terms of weighted rushing success rate.


Given a high probability that the offense takes a step back this year, the Colts need the defense to be even better than they were in 2020. This was a giant step in the opposite direction of that.

The Rams had arguably the best offense from week 1 (#1 ppd, #1 epa/ply) and so next week may be an even harder trial for this Colts D.