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Matt Ryan’s return breathes life into the Colts offense

Matt Ryan’s return as a starter turned the Colts' offense around.

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders Gary A. Vasquez-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,, Football Outsiders, and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.

In week 10, against The Raiders, the Colts' offense finally stepped up in a game that needed them to. Twenty-five points may not seem all that impressive, but when you have been averaging 14.7 points per game, you’ll take what you can get. Also, a missed field goal and a fumble just outside the red zone depressed the final score.

The Colts consistently drove down the field, eclipsing 400 total yards for only the 3rd time this season. They converted 20 first downs, culminating in a respectable 74.1% Drive Success Rate (62nd percentile).

All of their TDs came on drives with explosive plays, which is fine, but great offenses can also make it to the end zone by methodically picking up first downs. However, the Colts stalled on drives without explosive plays and had to settle for field goal attempts.

So they were good, but not great. I’ll take it.


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 6th-best ppd was driven by the 4th-highest yards per play and epa per play. However, DSR and conversion rate ranked lower (10th and 11th) as the explosive plays don’t bias them. Still, overall, it was a solid effort.


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

This was probably Matt Ryan’s 2nd-best game as a Colt. He finished 7th in both epa efficiency and passing success rate. He was accurate and moved the chains (13th cpoe, 11th 1st/d). His quick passing minimized sacks; more importantly, HE DID NOT TURN THE BALL OVER!!

He’s got a long way to go to get his numbers up to where I predicted he would be this year, but it is possible if he continues to play like this. What’s that? The Raiders have the worst passing defense in the league? I fail to see how that is relevant.


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

Hold the phone. An imposing run game from the Colts? This must be 2021. The 3rd-best ypc and 6th-best epa per carry, along with 2 TDs and eight first downs, are enough to capture the 4th-best adj RSR this week.

That is a stark improvement over almost every other game this year, and yes, I know . . . Raiders defense.


Look, I get it. It’s the Raiders, but it still makes me happy. I didn’t think I would see a well-executed Colts offense again this season, but this game was like an early Christmas present.

Of course, looking at it from the perspective of the whole season, we’re still horrible.

Week 11 brings the Eagles to Lucas Oil Stadium. The Eagles' defense ranks 5th in DVOA and has given up the 6th-fewest points per drive. They rank 1st in takeaways, and the Colts are tied for the 2nd-most giveaways. Needless to say, ball security will be key in this one.

Philly has the best passing defense in the league (1st DVOA) and gives up the 2nd-least epa per dropback to opposing QBs. They get the 3rd most sacks per game and give up the 6th fewest pass plays over 20 yards.

Yet, there is hope! Philly is bad against the run. By DVOA they are 28th, and I have them as 25th in adj RSR. They give up the 3rd-highest rushing conversion rate of any team. So, if we can limit mistakes and put together another good run game, there might be a chance.