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Week 2: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

This was a feast or famine day for the Colts defense. When they weren’t forcing LA into 1 of 5 three and outs for -8 yards and a defensive score, they were giving up one of 5 LA scoring drives that averaged almost 74 yards each.


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%

Based on points per drive, the Colts' defense was 12th best, but only on a technicality. Johnny Hekker’s aborted punt that ended with a Colts TD was technically not a punt but a run and so it was not considered a special teams score but a defensive score, knocking the net points against down to 20 from 27.

However, based on most other stats the defense ranked considerably below average (success rate 27th, 1st down conversion rate 27th, DSR 20th).


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

Matthew Stafford did Matthew Stafford things and racked up the 5th highest epa efficiency of any QB in week 2. This is because he had little trouble moving the chains (3rd most 1st down conversions) by getting a lot of yards on his passes (5th highest ny/d).


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

On the surface, the rushing stats don’t look bad: <100 yards, 13th shortest ypc, 6th lowest epa/c, 16th first down conversion rate. But the devil is in the details and in the 4th qtr, they gave up 46 yards to Sony Michel at a 4.6 ypc clip and 2 explosive rushes for first downs. 6 of those runs came on the game-winning field goal drive. That was enough to weight my success rate stat all the way down to 27th.


This was more of the same from last week. I believed the defense would take a step back this year, but this is more than I bargained for. It should go without saying that you need to hold the opponent to less than 27 points if you are to consistently win games. The only hope I can offer is that it is only week 2 . . . whatever that means.

Next up is the Titans with their steel-drivin’ man named Henry and a re-born Ryan Tannehill. So while they have the air and land covered, we own the sea . . . what’s that? . . . no sea? . . . crap. Although the Titan offense had a rough week 1, they got it in gear against the Seahawks and put up 30 points in regulation.

I don’t need to say much about Derrick Henry other than if we get behind, and he starts burning clock, we are toast.

Tannehill is such a head scratcher to me. Part of me does not want to believe his resurrection from the Miami dead, but his play over the past few years has been great. However, this year, he has had 4 turnovers in 2 games, so maybe that guy shows up again.