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Week 1: Colts Defense by the Numbers

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Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/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.

Even though the Texans scored the same amount as the Colts, their offense was much less successful at moving the ball. The Colts defense held them to a 66.7% Drive Success rate, the 5th lowest for the week.

Five 3-and-outs, along with 3 other drives that yielded less than 20 yards, limited the Texans' scoring opportunities. Their 2 TD drives came off of advantageous field position due to Colts’ turnovers. Without those gifts, I doubt they see the endzone.

The only real negative I see is that the Colts gave up a lot of big penalties to the Texans.


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%

Along with the 9th ranked points per drive against and the 5th lowest DSR, the defense managed to hold the Texans to the 9th lowest epa per play and the 6th lowest first down conversion rate.

As previously mentioned, flags were an issue, as the team gave up the 3rd most penalty yards of any team. Those yards count, so that needs to be cleaned up. But other than that, it was a pretty solid day.


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 defense held Davis Mills to negative epa and the 13th lowest epa efficiency of any QB. However, by success rate, Mills had more . . . success. He had the 11th highest PSR of any QB. So, this means that the defense gave up a lot of successful plays but made up for it with some big stops (e.g., 3 sacks).

This is also evidenced by the fact that they gave up a lot of passing first downs (21st 1st/d against) but with limited net yardage (11th ny/d against).

So it’s a mixed bag in the passing game.


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

The run defense was not a mixed bag: those numbers were good. The Colts were 4th best at preventing rushing first downs (1st/c); they limited Houston to the 5th lowest yards per carry and the 8th lowest epa per carry.

When adjusting for outcome and situation, I have the Colts' defense 10th against the run. DVOA is even more bullish at 6th.


Davis Mills and the Texans certainly aren’t the strongest test of a defense, but even so, I’m happy with what I saw. On to Jacksonville.

In week 1, the Jaguars' offense put up the 14th highest points per drive, a far cry from their 31st place finish in 2022. They moved the ball well (11th DSR, 12th 1st%) and had the 8th highest yards per play. So maybe their offense has turned a corner . . . or maybe they just played the Washington D.

Everyone is waiting for Trevor Lawrence to become “the guy,” and his week 1 numbers were certainly an improvement over his 2021 results. DVOA ranks their Week 1 passing at 16th, and I have them at 15th in epa/d, so that lines up.

On the ground, they were very good, though the game script limited their runs. They had five first downs, and a TD on only 18 carries with 3rd best yards per carry and the 5th best epa per carry. Adjusted efficiency puts them at 7th best in aRSR. Football Outsiders likes them even more with the #2 spot in rushing DVOA.

So, this is shaping up to be a much harder test than the Texans.