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The Indy Defense Is Circling the Drain

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-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.

After a decent outing against the Chargers, the Colts' defense returned to their point-shedding ways by giving up 31 against the Giants. That puts the trailing 4-game average at 32.5 points per game surrendered. I’ll save you the time of looking it up, that’s the worst in the league.

The Colts' defense was giving out first downs like Halloween candy, allowing an 86.7% Drive Success Rate, which is the Giants' best mark of the year and the 16th highest by any offense all season. That translates to a defense that ranks in the 3rd percentile of all of 2022’s games.


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 Giants scored on 5 of their 8 drives, which resulted in the highest PPD of any offense this week. On a per-play basis, the Colts' defense ranked 24th in both yards and EPA (yds/ply, EPA/ply).

In the previous week against the Chargers, the Colts' defense did not give up any first downs by penalties, but that impressive count is book-ended by 6 against the Vikings and 3 against the Giants.

On the year, the Colts' defense has steadily gotten worse and has now fallen to 23rd by PPD. DVOA is far more favorable, ranking the Colts' defense 14th. I can see why that is as I have the Colts D at 15th by EPA per play and 12th in expected PPD allowed. Basically, opponents have had the 6th-best starting field position, which biases the PPD that the Colts have surrendered.


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

Even though New York didn’t pass much, Daniel Jones had his way with the Colts' defense. The Giants had the 3rd-best team Passing EPA efficiency and the best passing success rate of any offense. The Colts' pass rush had difficulty all day and recorded no sacks.

On the year, I have the Colts as the 15th-best passing defense (epa/d against), which matches their DVOA ranking.


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

What was once a strong run defense has weakened recently. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley helped extend that streak as the Colts registered the 3rd-worst rush defense this week (aRSR). The Colts gave up the highest rushing first down conversion rate and ranked 24th in both EPA/c and YPC. The Giants leaned on the run game and the Colts' defense broke.

On the year, the colts have the 18th-ranked aRSR allowed, which is a bit worse than their 15th-ranked DVOA.


It was another horrendous outing by the Colts' defense, which, along with the previous 3 weeks, drags a previously-good relative ranking down to a season total that looks just average.

The last game of the year is against the Houston Texans and their 31st-ranked offense (DVOA). If the defense can’t rebound against this team, then that is the definition of “quit”.

Davis Mills is arguably the worst-performing starting QB in the league, ranking 32nd in EPA/d and leading the Texans to the 31st-ranked passing DVOA. On the ground, the Texans rank 31st in aRSR and 32nd by DVOA.

Basically, there is not an easier offense that the Colts' defense could have drawn, but only because the Colts' offense wasn’t a possibility.