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Week 18: Colts Offense by the Numbers

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Well, I saved the worst for last. Actually, it’s the 2nd worst, but the worst was also Jacksonville so there you go. The two lowest Drive Success Rates and offensive point totals of the year came against what Football Outsiders calls the 2nd worst defense in the league. Let that burn for a while.


TEAM TOTALS

Mouseover for definitions: Adj PPD, Team PPG, Off 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%

1.22 points per drive is only 26th and that is still over-rating this effort as 7 points came in garbage time. The Colts averaged the 30th epa per play and only the 29th first down conversion rate.

This miserable performance dropped their season ppd to 2.45, which is exactly the same as 2020.


PASS TOTALS

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

Surprisingly, Wentz was not the worst QB of the week, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. The team’s 26th epa per drop-back was paired with a 24th ranked passing success rate. Net yardage came in 29th and first down conversion rate was 24th. I would mention the 2 turnovers and 6 sacks, but they are accounted for in the previous numbers already . . . 2 turnovers and 6 sacks!!

On the year, the passing offense ranks 17th by team level epa efficiency. That is against easier than average opponent defenses, so DVOA ranks them lower at 20th.

Prior to the season, it was pretty clear to me that Wentz was going to be worse than Rivers. People looked at his 2017 and saw potential there, but this is who Wentz is. His average numbers as an Eagle are basically the same as a Colt:

.

Measure 2016-2020 2021
Measure 2016-2020 2021
EPA per Drop-back 0.07 0.08
Passing Success Rate 46.0% 46.1%
Net Yards per Drop-back 5.9 6.0
1st Down Conv Rate 33.0% 31.7%

He’s not horrible, but he’s not good either. He is mobile and a deep ball threat but that is not a substitute for every down efficiency.

None of this should have been a surprise.


RUSH TOTALS

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

It’s easy to blame Wentz for the loss, but the run game was not there when we needed it either. 3 first downs and a 27th ranked epa per carry is a far cry from what they are capable of. Had the team been able to run the ball, this may have been a much better outcome, but efficiency-wise they finished 26th in adjRSR.

That is so frustrating as I have them 2nd best for the season, a rank exactly matched by DVOA. I severely under-rated the run game prior to this season. Last year they finished 7th in adjRSR and I assumed that was the ceiling. Jonathan Taylor proved me wrong and if it wasn’t for him, the Colts' offense (and record) would have been much, much worse. Year over year, he made up for a significant drop in QB play and that is very difficult to do.


CONCLUSION

This result of this game was a failure of both the passing and running phases. 2 turnovers is bad enough, but add in 3 more turnovers on downs, where we get neither points nor field position and that is simply incompetence.

However, this team is not defined by their last game, but rather the road they traveled to get there. In 2020, the offense ranked 10th in points per drive under the leadership of a future Hall of Fame QB and strong run game with a cohesive O-line ranked as one of the best in the league. There was every reason for this offense to fall flat this year, but they didn’t. After a slow start, they found their footing and consistently got better, and climbed the rankings to eventually once again become a top 10 unit. They just needed more consistency.

I have no idea what the future holds. If Wentz is under center next year, expect a similar passing game (about average with wild swings). It’s hard for me to believe the run game can be as successful 2 years in a row, but I guess we will see.