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Week 1: Colts Offense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/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.

NOTE: The stats are late this week because multiple data sources changed their output format, and I have spent all week re-coding. I’m not 100% sure I did everything right, but at least charts are now being spit out. If you see anything that looks hinky, let me know.

Despite a modest 20 points, the Colts’ week 1 offense was quite productive. They had no real issue driving down the field, as evidenced by a 7th best 76.7% Drive Success Rate, off of a league-high 33 first downs.

The issue was with converting those drives into points. Expected points from DSR suggest the Colts left 6.9 points on the field *cough* wildcat *cough*. Two turnovers, a turnover on downs, and a missed field goal are good ways to not score much on the day.


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 numbers that measure the ability to move the ball were all pretty good:

  • 7th DSR
  • 12th yards per play (yds/ply)
  • 12th Play Success Rate (adj TSR)
  • 5th 1st down rate (1st/ply)

However, the turnovers depressed the EPA efficiency, which mirrors the points per drive outcome (22nd EPA/ply, 23rd adj PPD).

In other words, besides actual points, all the numbers look pretty good. For some, that feeds the “numbers don’t tell the whole story” narrative, but for the more astute among us, it is quite the opposite: the numbers tell you that the underlying play is good, but critical mistakes held them back.


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 wasn’t great, but it was better than average. With all 32 teams registered for the week, Matt Ryan came in 13th in epa per drop-back and 13th in passing success rate.

He was 5th in 1st down rate, which is something that the passing game sorely lacked last year, finishing 24th overall. You can’t move the ball if you don’t get first downs, so I was happy to see so many passing conversions.

One area of concern was accuracy. A -4.9% cpoe ranks Ryan 22nd, but there was more than 1 drop, so perhaps I’ll take this one with a grain of salt . . . for now.


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

So, the botched snaps count as run plays, and as of now, I don’t have an easy way to remove them from the equation, so I didn’t. That will depress the numbers somewhat, especially epa per carry, which clocked in at 18th.

Also, my model discounts runs in the 4th quarter when a team is down by two or more scores. So many of J.T.’s late-game heroics are given less weight by my adjusted RSR, which ranks the run game 17th. DVOA also says 17th, so I’m in good company.

However, the Colts were 11th in rushing first down rate and 14th in yards per carry. So, like the passing game, the stats that measured outcomes were low, but the stats that measured how they moved the ball were much better. Stop fumbling snaps, and the measures will get better.


If you ignore the outcome, this was a pretty solid offensive performance. I look forward to what this unit can do when they shake the rust off.

Week 2 brings the Jaguars. The Jacksonville defense isn’t very good if recent history is any indicator. They finished 31st in DVOA last year, and in week 1, they extended that level of play by giving up the 4th most points per drive.

They were near the bottom against the pass last year, and that streak continued into 2022, as they yielded four passing TDs to some dude in week 1. Seriously, when you make Carson Wentz look like a top 10 QB, that is not exactly announcing your presence with authority.

Against the run, they weren’t nearly as bad. DVOA ranks them 12th against the run last week. That seems pretty high to me, seeing as they finished 19th in first down rate, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. The bottom line is that they are tougher against the run than the pass.

I look for Ryan to step it up a notch this game.