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Week 6: Colts Defense by the Numbers

The Colts allowed the Jaguars to run free.

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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,, Football Outsiders, and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

Against the Jags, the Colts defense was as bad as the Colts offense was good. In fact, I could basically write the opposite of what I wrote about the offense and that would describe how ineffective the defense was. Actually, that is exactly what I will do.

Oof, oof, oof . . . oof. This was a bad performance by the Colts defense.

Out of 188 games so far this year, 25 first downs given up is tied for the 25th most by any defense and translates to the 15th highest (tied) Drive Success Rate surrendered. In other words, the Jaguars had no real trouble moving the ball against the 11th ranked Indy defense.

The final tally of 27 points against was only 1.6 points under expectation, so it wasn’t fluky scores either. The Jaguars offense earned every point . . . well except for 1.6, mathematically speaking.


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%

The defense ranks 3rd to last on the week in points per drive and DSR. They also gave up the 3rd most yards per play, which translates to the 2nd highest EPA per play yielded. They also gave up the 2nd highest play success rate against an offense that had poor starting field position (23rd of 28).

The Jacksonville pass/rush ratio tilted towards the run more than all but 3 teams and that game plan compiled the 9th most offensive yards this week.

Of course, all that matters is Time of Possession and we lost that battle, so I’m not sure if the win even counts.


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

Our pass defense is the worst, baby!! Okay, that’s not true, but it sure was not fun to watch Trevor Lawrence complete over 90% of his passes.

While Lawrence put up the 6th fewest passing yards, that is not really a stat to hang your hat on. Atlanta put up the 4th fewest passing yards (129) and finished #1 in EPA efficiency and 7th in points per drive.

What matters is how the defense gave up those passing yards and they did it by letting Lawrence achieve the 9th highest EPA efficiency against and the 5th best passing success rate. They did it by letting him have the 11th highest passing conversion rate and the 2nd best accuracy (cpoe). And they did it all with . . . . drumroll, please . . . NO TAKEAWAYS!!

They did get 4 sacks, however, which limited his net yardage efficiency to just 14th. Infrequent, quick, short throws was the story of the Jags’ passing game (5th fewest att, 25th time to throw, 27th depth of target).


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

The Jags run game was ever present as the committee of Travis Etienne Jr. , James Robinson, et al. was busy racking up the 4th most carries and doing it while being ridiculously successful. Coming into the game, the Colts rush defense was very good (#2 DVOA, #8 aRSR) and the Jags run game was very bad (27th DVOA, 27th aRSR), so this is a big step back for the Colts.

Giving up the 2nd best ypc and #1 epa/c is not impressive. On top of that, the Colts defense gave up the the 3rd highest conversion rate and allowed 3 rushing TDs, so they get a 2nd to last aRSR ranking this week.

The run defense needs to get back to being good again soon.


I don’t want to say any more bad things about how the defense played, so I won’t.

Instead, let’s look at the defense through the first 6 games. So far, I have them 18th on the ground (aRSR) and 17th against the pass (EPA/d). Football Outsiders ranks this offense 13th overall. I think that is a little high as they are 17th in points per drive and 21st in DSR. Unless, they can get back to being takeaway kings, that 17th range feels right to me.

Hopefully, the team can improve on that when they travel to Tennessee in week 7. The Titans rank 20th in points per drive and 23rd in DSR, so they have had a lot of trouble driving the field and scoring.

Tannehill’s passing is about average with the 15th highest EPA efficiency. Football Outsiders likes him a bit more, giving the Titans passing offense an 11th DVOA ranking. The Colts passing defense had their 2nd worst game against him in week 3 in a losing effort.

On the ground, the Titans haven’t been that good, ranking 27th in aRSR and 18th in rushing DVOA. However, their run game has steadily been getting better each week. That is a bad match-up scenario for the Colts run defense who have been getting worse.

To me, that means this should be another run-heavy Titans offense, but I’ve been told that they don’t play the games on spreadsheets. Although, I have seen Pac-Man played on a spreadsheet. Just sayin’.