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Colts Regular Season Defensive Rankings

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NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Marc Lebryk-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.

Let’s pretend that first 75 yard TD didn’t happen. In that world, I am writing about how great the defense played. I’d be telling you how a 65% defensive Drive Success Rate is better than 82% of all games this year. I’d mention the 1.6 Points per Drive is equivalent to how top 5 defenses play. I’d probably talk about 8 drives that were held to 20 yard or less.

But I can’t do that, because the first drive did happen. 1 play, 75 yards, 7 points. I’m not gonna talk about it.


(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%

On the year, the Colts defense held opponents to 1.93 Points per Drive. That ranks them 20th overall, which exactly matches their ranking for defensive Drive Success Rate. So, 20th best defense it is.

They were right about average at preventing yards (17th yds/ply) and also at preventing first downs (17th 1st/ply). After starting out great at take-aways, they end up in the middle of the pack there too (16th TOs).

The only driver that really tipped the Colts’s PPD to below average was starting field position. The defense had to defend the 11th shortest fields and that is enough to cause an average defense in terms of yards and first downs to give up more than average 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

Against the pass, the defense finishes the season 16th in opponent QB EPA efficiency. That is also right in line with their defensive Passing Success Rate (15th PSR).

The Colts gave up a lot of pass yards and first downs (11th ny/d, 12th 1st/d), but they did not give up a lot of TDs (20th passing TD rate, 26th Scramble TD rate). This is the classic bend don’t break defense. They played a lot of Cover 3, giving up the underneath routes, waiting for the opponent to make a mistake.


(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 defense struggled all year. They end up 21st in defensive Adj Rush Success Rate and 20th in defensive YPC.

They did a bit better at stopping first downs (16th 1st/c), but they gave up the 4th most rushing TDs and didn’t recover many fumbles (20th Fum Lost).


Like the offense, this defense was right about average, which is why the team finished with an average win rate.