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.
I remember once watching Peyton Manning put up 51 points on Dallas and had thought at that time, that the Cowboys' defense had performed poorly. However, I was later corrected by fan comments that told me the issue wasn’t the defense, but that Tony Romo was a choker.
Also, I foolishly thought that the Broncos giving up only 10 points against the Ravens last Sunday was an example of a good defense, but of course, I found out later from fan comments that I was wrong and that Denver’s defense (who give up the 4th-fewest points per drive of any team) is actually quite soft and gave that game away. . . oh and Brandon McManus is a terrible kicker for missing a 63-yard field goal attempt.
My point is that I am nowhere near as wise as random people who comment on football blogs. I clearly have no idea what I am talking about, so you should take it with a giant grain of salt, when I say, that I think maybe, probably, it could be that the Colts giving up 7 touchdowns was bad defense. I can’t be sure until I read through enough comments, but to me, giving up 47 points just has the hint of being a lot.
23 first downs on 28 series is an 82.1% Drive Success Rate, which is a 12th-percentile defensive effort. But again, even though that sounds bad, it might not have been. You know . . . ‘cause numbers are not real or something.
3.9 PPD is the 2nd-most given up in week 13, which obviously is bad, but the Colts’ offense continually turning the ball over and giving Dallas the 2nd-best starting field position sure didn’t help.
However, despite the field position, the Colts' defense still gave up the 8th-most yds/play, the 3rd-highest epa/play, and the 7th-highest conversion rate. So, they took lemons and turned them into . . . a terrible defense . . . now with lemon!
Even though the Cowboys didn’t pass much, Dak Prescott had good efficiency. The Indy defense ranked 24th in epa/d against and 20th in PSR against. They did well at limiting yards (11th best ny/d against), but they gave up too many passing first downs (23rd 1st/d against). I think that is called a break-don’t-bend defense.
On the year the Colts’ defense is 10th best against the pass (epa/d against). DVOA says 13th. I say “whatever”.
Against the run, the Colts gave up a ridiculously high 6.5 yards per carry (30th ypc against) and a lot of first downs (23rd 1st/c against). That led to the 28th-ranked adj RSR against. Ooph.
On the year, the team has been slipping against the run and now comes in at 14th (aRSR against). DVOA says 15th and I say, why you gotta be that way, DVOA?
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
Overall, DVOA ranks the Colts defense 14th, and looking at the following graph, I don’t disagree. They are a bit above average in both phases, so sure, let’s call it 14th. That will usually win you a decent amount of games. That is unless your offense is, oh, I don’t know, THE 2ND-WORST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE!!!