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Week 9 Offensive Rankings and Analysis: A good defense is the best offense

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Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers Photo by Kara Durrette/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.

On the first 4 drives, the Colts offense racked up 13 points and an impressive 81.25% Drive Success rate. Then they were blanked the rest of the game, earning only 2 non-penalty first downs and averaging a mere 12.5 yards per drive.

Game script likely was a factor as they enjoyed a 2-score lead for most of the second half. Still, if you are trying to drain the clock, you would like to see more than 11 minutes of possession time in a half. An overall 70.8% Drive Success Rate is not impressive.


(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%

Without the defensive scores, the Colts only managed 1.63 points per drive, which if compared against season totals would rank 24th, but this was a low-scoring week for the league and it ended up 18th out of 28 teams. Somehow, that actually increases their rank on the season 1 spot to 13th-best in points per drive.

By EPA per play, the offense ranked 22nd in week 9, which feels closer to what I witnessed, but the 8th shortest average field position helped convert that poor efficiency into some points.


(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

Passing-wise, the Colts finish right about in the middle of the pack, with a 14th-ranked EPA per dropback (of 28 teams). On the year, they are right in the middle as well, as they improve 1 spot to 16th (of 32 teams).

Minshew’s yardage efficiency was poor (27th ny/d), but he didn’t turn the ball over, which helped out his average EPA. He took only 1 sack and his accuracy was good (+1.4% cpoe). Basically, he wasn’t very good throwing the ball, but he was minimizing his mistakes and there’s value in that too.


(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,

The run game had its moments, but the average carry wasn’t that successful (20th arsr). The Colts ranked 22nd in both Yards per Carry and Conversion rate for the week.

On the year, I rank the Colts' run game 17th.


This was a poor offense that got away with a win because of their defense. Taking a conservative approach was likely part of the game plan, though, so I won’t call this a representative example of the offense.

However, on the whole, we have seen a team that has basically an average pass game with an average run game. Sooooo . . . yeah.

Next, the Colts face the New England Patriot defense, which is giving up the 8th-most points per drive and the 13th-highest Drive Success Rate.

Against opposing QBs, they bring the 6th-least amount of pressure and give up the 5th-most EPA per dropback. They don’t get a lot of turnovers off of passing plays either (25th), so maybe the Colts give Minshew a little more leash. He should have time to make some longer throws.

On the ground, the Patriots defense is much more formidable. They have the 11th-lowest adj Rush Success Rate allowed, which is comprised of the 5th-lowest conversion rate and 7th-lowest yards per carry given up.

This may be a game that has to be won through the air. Let us pray.