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Week 3: Offensive Rankings and Analysis

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Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/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.

If you are going to have only 1.3 first downs per drive, then those first downs have to be field-flipping monster plays or you are not going to see the end zone much. Against the Ravens, the Colts offense opted for the latter. It took 33 series to accumulate those 19 first downs, which is an anemic 57.6% Drive Success Rate (28th).

Yes, it was raining. Yes, Baltimore has a tough defense. Yes, Minshew doesn’t have much experience with the Colts’ playbook. Yes, our starting center was out. Yes, etc. I don’t care. The offense did not perform well.

The Colts had the 9th-best average starting field position but only entered the red zone once. On the best starting position of the day, they were gifted a drive starting on the 19 and managed a whole 7 yards before surrendering to the golden leg of Matt Gay.


(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%

The safety reduces the offensive points per drive, so the final tally was 1.33 per drive, which is good enough for 21st. Because Gay was perfect on his kicks, the PPD actually overstates the underlying production. 28th-ranked yards per play and 26th-ranked yards per series are a little more descriptive of the actual play.

The Colts weren’t terrible on 3rd downs converting 36.4% (18th) on the 11th shortest yards to gain (5.5 yards). But they didn’t convert many firsts or seconds, which dropped the overall conversion rate to a 27th-ranked 22.6%.


(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

Minshew’s production wasn’t good. He finished 24th on the week in EPA efficiency and 25th in success rate. He could not move the chains (31st 1st/d) and that’s no surprise as his average yards gained per dropback was only 3.8 (26th ny/d).

For those who say he played well enough to win, that phrase is really meaningless. It implies that no QB on a winning team ever had a bad game. Minshew drove the team to the end zone only once all game, even when he started at the opponent's 19. Whether or not that is good enough to win depends entirely on the kicker and the defense.

On the year, I have the Colts ranked 20th in passing and I fully expect that to improve as AR gets some experience.


(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 Colts did well. A 14th-ranked adj Rush Success Rate was driven by the 10th-best rushing conversion rate and the 9th-best yards per carry. They converted 4 of 6 third downs and earned over half of the team's total first downs.

On the year, I have them as the 11th-best rushing team.


I don’t mean this review of the offense to sound harsh. All of those variables I listed at the top of the article are very real and the outcome could have been really bad. But it also could have been much better and the plain, unadjusted, actual, dog-didn’t-eat-my-homework truth is that the offense performed below average relative to other teams.

Moving on, the Colts take on the Rams in week 4. The LA defense gives away the 12th most points per drive. I think their defense is a little better than that number suggests, as they have the 13th-best DSR against and the 12th-best (lowest) yards per play given up.

One reason for that discrepancy between points and yards is that the Rams’ opponents have had the 2nd-best starting field position this year. I’m not sure what’s driving that but there it is.

Against the pass, the Rams are about average, giving up the 14th-lowest EPA per dropback and the 16th-ranked Pass Success Rate against. They have not pressured the QB much (26th pressure rate), so Richardson (or Minshew) should have more time to let plays develop.

On the ground, the Rams are a bit below average defensively, with the 19th ranked adj Rush Success Rate against. This should be a good opportunity for the team to flex its legs.

The Colts are favored by 1.5.