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.
When an offense only scores 17 points, that isn’t very productive, but when looking at the drive chart, it is easy to see that the Colts’ offense was moving the ball well. A 75% Drive Success Rate is a healthy conversion rate and implies an expected point production of 22.5 points. The under-production can primarily be attributed to the 3 turnovers.
The actual points per drive ranks 20th but the expected points per drive, which incorporates conversion rate, starting field position, and average series length, ranked 7th-best.
This is important because expected points per drive is more descriptive of how a team played and therefore is more predictive of how they should fare in future games. In other words, even though the Colts only scored 17, this was still a pretty good effort.
Matt Ryan squeaks into the top 10 QB list this week. His 8th-best passing success rate is by far the best effort he has had as a Colt. He had the 6th-highest passing conversion rate and the 6th-highest net yard efficiency. His results were driven by good accuracy (10th cpoe), which helped his receivers earn incremental yac (11th).
The turnovers were game-killers, but underneath that was a very solid passing performance. If he continues to play like that, good things will happen.
I expected the run game to regress this year, but holy crap it couldn’t be much worse. On the year I have them 31st and for the week they are dead last in adj RSR. It’s easy to see why, as a 30th-ranked conversion rate and a 31st yards per carry isn’t very productive. Add in a fumble and you get the worst rushing performance of any team from any week this year.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
The run game has to rebound. The turnovers have to stop. The passing game has to extend on its step forward. Only then will the Colts offense lift itself out of the cellar. The good news is that I think all of those things are somewhat likely.
On a short week, the Colts travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. The bad news is that the Denver defense is very good. They are 7th in points per drive against and rank 8th in defensive DVOA. They don’t give up a lot of yards or first downs (7th yds/ply against, 10th 1st against). However, the good news is . . . well, there is no good news.
The Broncos give up the 7th least epa per drop-back against opposing QBs along with the 8th lowest QB success rate. That is why by DVOA they are the 6th-best passing defense.
Against the run, I part ways with Football Outsiders as they rank the Denver rush defense only 20th and I have them 10th best by adj RSR. I guess we’ll see. Maybe the Denver “weakness” is the run game, but since that is an Indy weakness too, I’m not seeing that as a favorable match-up.