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, NFL.com, Football Outsiders, and the nflFastR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.
Coming into week 1, expectations for the Colts offense were low and they delivered on that. The offense struggled to move the ball, earning only 18 first downs on 29 series for a Drive Success Rate of 62.1%. That ranks 24th on the week and is a big reason why they only had 14 offensive points on the day. Also, 3 turnovers and another 3 on downs didn’t help.
Point-wise, the offense finished 26th (PPD), which is right in line with the 24th-ranked DSR.
The Colts had the 12th-best average field position of any team but could do nothing with it as they managed just 4.1 yards per play (24th). EPA-wise it was even worse, as the abundance of turnovers dragged EPA/ply down to finish 30th.
Even though the team had the 13th lowest yards to gain on 3rd downs, they had the 2nd worst 3rd down conversion rate. That’s a problem.
By himself, Richardson finished 13th in EPA per dropback, but these numbers include Minshew’s 0 for 2 effort and Deon Jackson’s fumble after the catch, so the team EPA/dropback fell to 19th.
Passing conversions ranked 20th, which is near where the 4.9 Net Yards per dropback finished (17th). If you can’t gain yards or first downs, it’s tough to do well.
Passing depth was short (26th), but as often happens on short passes, YAC made up for it (5th). So, the issue wasn’t completion yardage, but rather the low accuracy (28th CPOE). Based on distance (and other variables) the pass completion rate should have been 8.3% higher. Had that happened, then we would have seen a lot more first downs and likely significantly more points.
I’m not gonna sugar-coat it, the run game was awful. The 28th-ranked Adj. Rush Success Rate was driven by the 6th lowest conversion rate and the 31st-ranked Yards per Carry. EPA is no friend to the Colts run game either as the team was dead last in EPA per carry on zero 3rd down conversions.
Last year the Colts had arguably the worst run game and this year is reminiscent of that.
CONCLUSION & LOOK AHEAD
Anthony Richardson’s debut was not great, but it was also not terrible. There were plenty of teams with veteran QBs and worse performances. I can’t say the same for the Colts run game though. It was just plain bad.
Week 2 has the Colts traveling to NRG stadium to take on the Texans. In week 1, Houston’s defense gave up the 9th most Points per Drive against the Ravens. However, they were much better in terms of first downs, ranking 16th in first down conversion rate against. Basically, Baltimore was able to score because they had the 3rd best starting field position and some well-timed explosive plays.
Against the pass, they held Lamar Jackson to negative EPA (16th EPA/d) and no TDs. They also sacked the mobile QB 4 times. Those numbers don’t bode too well for a Colts QB who has only 1 game under his belt.
On the ground, The Ravens fared better, earning the 9th-best aRSR of the week. Perhaps the Colts can see similar success against the Texans' run defense. Or maybe not.
The colts are 1-point favorites at the time of this writing.