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Week 4 Defensive Rankings and Analysis: The Indianapolis defense stumbles

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Los Angeles Rams v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/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.

Evidently, it takes giving up 23 points on 6 drives for the Colts to settle in and actually play defense, because on the following 5 drives, they got a turnover, yielded 0 points, gave up 18 yards per drive, and allowed only 3 first downs to end regulation. Of course, they followed that up with a 75-yard game-losing “stand”, so there’s that.

Overall, they were ineffective, giving up 27 first downs on 36 series, which is a 20th-ranked defensive Drive Success Rate of 75%.


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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%

2.42 Points per drive ranks the defense 23rd this week and drags the Colts' season total down 1 spot to 14th.

The 20th-ranked defensive DSR, was backed up by the 20th Yards per play given up and 24th EPA per play against. The Colts also gave up the 8th-most explosive yards on the week and the 3rd-most penalty yards.

Pretty much all of the numbers were bad. I’m glad they played well in the 2nd half, but at a game level, this was a poor defensive effort.


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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

Matt Stafford had his way with the Colts’ defense. He had the 5th-highest EPA per dropback and the 8th-most net yards per dropback. He wasn’t pressured and took his time to make the 9th-longest average completions. He had no problem moving the chains with the 11th-best conversion rate.

The Colts’ defense did manage a pick and 2 sacks, but that was too little, too . . . well, it was too little.

The defensive effort was bad enough to cause the Colts to tumble 7 spots in the season rankings from 11th to 18th against the pass. Yuck.


(Use the right-left arrows to toggle between stats for the week and the season).

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

On the ground, the defense fared no better. They gave up 150 rushing yards and earned the 25th ranked adj Rush Succes Rate against.

They did limit rushing first downs with a 13th-ranked conversion rate allowed, but they also gave up 2 TDs and the 21st ranked Yards per Carry against.

On the year, they fall 6 spots to 18th against the run.


This game had some good defensive drives, but they were sandwiched between drives of ugliness and despair.

Week 5 brings the Titans offense, who are tied for 18th in Points per Drive. They also have a 19th-ranked yards per play, but a curiously low 26th conversion rate. They make up for the lack of conversions with big plays, ranking 6th in explosive yards per game.

However, Ryan Tannehill has struggled this year, amassing only the 21st-ranked EPA efficiency and 31st-ranked passing success rate. On the ground, King Henry has managed to lead their rushing game to a royal average 15th-ranked Adj Rush Success Rate.

This is a huge get-well opportunity for the Colts defense.