clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Colts Try To Punt Their Way To Victory: It Doesn’t Work

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: DEC 17 Colts at Vikings Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via 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 Minnesota, the Colts spent the first 8 drives accumulating 22 points and then spent another 8 drives adding on 0 more. That is objectively not good, as the overall Drive Success Rate was 58.8%, which ranks in the 8th percentile of league offensive efforts in 2022.

Even the first 8 drives, when the team was scoring, only had a 68.2% DSR, which was on pace for a 35th-percentile effort. Great field position was wasted on multiple drives that stalled and the Colts settled for field goals. Basically, even when the offense was scoring, they couldn’t move the ball very well.


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%

Those 22 offensive points equate to a 25th-ranked 1.38 PPD, which is in line with the 27th-ranked yards per play and a 28th-ranked first down conversion rate.

That is even more disappointing because they had the 6th best starting field position of any offense in Week 15. Expected PPD (xOPPD) includes starting field position as a variable and when incorporating that, it says that the Colts were the 3rd worst offense of the week. That might be generous.

On the season, DVOA ranks the Colts offense dead last. I have them 30th in PPD and xOPPD, but 32nd sounds better . . . well, not better, but you get what I mean.


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

The passing game was both inefficient and unsuccessful (22nd EPA/d, 28th PSR). The average dropback netted only 4.6 yards, which ranks 25th and was driven by Ryan’s 28th-ranked accuracy (cpoe).

On the season, DVOA again ranks the Colts dead last in passing. I have them 29th in EPA/d, but also only facing the 20th hardest opponent passing defenses. So yeah, dead last sounds about right.


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

The run game once again disappointed. Game script caused the Colts to lean on the run in early down situations, which is good for yards per carry (14th), but not so good for getting first downs (25th 1st/c). Add in a lost fumble and no TDs and you get the 23rd-ranked aRSR.

On the season, DVOA does not think the Colts are the worst rushing team. They think they are the 2nd worst team (31st DVOA). I have the Colts at 32nd in aRSR and I am unwilling to budge off of that spot.


This offense looked incompetent most of the game and that matches their season output. Don’t worry it will be over soon.

The next time you get to enjoy this offense is on the upcoming Monday Night Football, which features the Chargers and their 17th-ranked defense (by DVOA). Since the Colts are basically the worst in both passing and rushing, it is pointless to go through the details of the match-ups as by definition the Chargers will have the edge.

However, I will point out that L.A. is much better against the pass (13th DVOA, 15th EPA/d ) than they are against the run (25th DVOA, 26th aRSR). So now is the time for Jonathan Taylor to step up . . . pardon, what’s that? . . . injured reserve you say? Okay, never mind.