There were consistent statistical themes through Weeks 8 and 9, along with some big differences. Some of the stats are combined for both games, but areas of particular note are separated and highlighted as necessary. Injuries played a big part in both games. The Colts lost Mike Hart and Anthony Gonzalez in Week 8, and Austin Collie in Week 9. Clint Session played well despite severe injury.
As I’ve tried to explain throughout the season, I am always looking to improve the stats I record. In keeping with that philosophy, I am introducing a few new stats into this analysis. The new additions include run play direction and gap on offense, along with opposing run play direction, Colts blitzes, and distinguishing between broken and missed tackles on defense.
* Previously, only “MTs” or missed tackles were recorded, but a better phrasing would have been “broken tackles.” Missed tackles will only be used to track players who take bad angles or fail to hold edges. This should help distinguish between someone physically screwing up a tackle, and someone mentally screwing it up.
|Week 8||Week 9||DIFFERENCE|
(BID = Blocks in Direction; 1 – Around the Left Edge, 2 – LT/LG Gap, 3 – Up the Middle, 4 – RG/RT Gap, 5 – Around the Right Edge)
Things to Note on Offense
* After numerous games with over 70% completions, injuries and an increased focus on attacking Ryan Diem has started to take a toll on Manning. In both Week 8 and 9, Manning threw less than 60% completions. Some of the “drops” were more a result of poorly thrown passes. There were 50% more overthrows than the average for the season. Part of this is a timing issue, with Manning trying to bring new guys up to speed. Another part is the collapse of the offensive line in Week 9, forcing Manning to rush his release. As Manning’s weapons return from injury he should start returning to normal production.
* The difference between the offensive line in Weeks 8 and 9 was staggering. Week 8 was essentially “average” but Week 9 was horrible. In Week 8, LT Charlie Johnson posted one of his highest ratings of the season, while limiting his bad blocks to his average. RT Ryan Diem contributed a nearly 60% good blocks and dropped his bad percentage to below 20%. RG Mike Pollak even managed a 70%+ good percentage. The surprise was the disappointing performance from Jeff Saturday, who had an uncharacteristically high number of bad blocks.
In Week 9, Charlie Johnson dropped back to average, while Pollak took a serious hit in positive and negative plays, putting up a sub-60% performance for good blocks, and nearly 25% bad blocks. Ryan Diem posted 49.4% good versus 29.9% bad, which is absolutely dismal. Even C Jeff Saturday’s performance took a serious hit. The only lineman who had anything resembling a consistent performance was LG Kyle DeVan who only dropped 3% in good blocks, and still managed nearly 85% positive blocks. Part of the struggles were due to defensive planning that focused on the line’s weaknesses, particularly Mike Pollak, Ryan Diem, and Charlie Johnson. The Eagles used a combination of a fast DE, and an extra blitzer to focus on the right side of the line and give Manning problems.
* It is clear now that the Colts organization was actively moving away from Mike Pollak. From the game film, it was obvious that Jeff Saturday had specific instructions to assist Mike Pollak on every play unless already engaged. Prior to the bye week, and after I started counting assists, Jeff Saturday had nearly as many assists with the LG as with the RG (67 LG/C assists vs. 78 C/RG assists), but following the bye week, Saturday went from a 45/55 split to a 30/70 split. In Weeks 8 and 9 Saturday notched nearly 40 assists with Pollak against only about 15 with DeVan. The emphasis impacted Saturday’s ability to block up the middle. The numbers show that Saturday was less able to get back into position for blitzes up the middle. It was this technique change that led to a sack on Manning in Philadelphia.
On the 67th offensive play, it was 2nd and 10 in Philadelphia territory. The Colts were in a 3-wide, Singleback formation with Blair White lined up wide left opposite Pierre Garçon, and Reggie Wayne lined up slot left. Jacob Tamme was lined up at right TE. As the play began, Johnson was already losing the edge, and a four-man blitz became a six-man blitz. Ryan Diem and Kyle DeVan were both engaged immediately, but were holding well. Jeff Saturday moved right to engage a DT engaged with Mike Pollak. Just after the snap, two blitzers targeted Manning and up the RG/RT gap and the newly vacated Center gap with Saturday out of position to help Pollak. Saturday tried to disengage and move into position, but Pollak was not prepared and crumbled quickly, forcing Saturday to return to the initial block. DeVan was unable move over to double block. Saturday put his body partly in the way but Pollak didn’t even try to stop the blitzer going around his side. This error was compounded as Manning was forced to step up into the pocket to avoid the blitz from the edge. This brought Manning into the grasp of the Eagle blitzers, and resulted in a sack for a loss of 8. In the end, Johnson got turned, Pollak and Saturday both got missed blocks and half a sack, and DeVan and Diem had good blocks.
* As for the tight ends, Tamme has become a better blocker than Robinson. Robinson is acceptable, and not a huge liability, but Tamme is having better results. The McClendon tight end experiment has yielded a perfect 4/4 good block rating.
* Many of the talking heads proclaimed that the loss of Dallas Clark was the biggest loss to the Colts. While it is true that Clark is an elite TE, by the numbers, Tamme has been exceptional. The chart below factors Tamme’s numbers up to reflect what they would be if Tamme reaches the same snap count as Dallas.
(Receiving Multiplying Factor: 3.460; Blocking Multiplying Factor: 4.286)
* The running back production dipped in Week 9, after a 3 week span of 100+ rushing yards games. Week 8 featured Mike Hart with an Arian Foster impression. Hart’s numbers may be a fluke, but his performance against Houston was spectacular. 5 of his 12 runs went for more than 6 yards, and 2 others went for 4 yards. Javarris James’ first carry in the NFL was a 7 yard gain late in Week 8. In Week 9, James was used sparingly but was still able to notch a pair of TDs. Donald Brown, had some longer runs, but nothing amazing. He had some good cuts to power for first downs, but also danced behind the line way too often and got caught for negative or no gains 30% of the time. Top all of this off with his poor vision in pass blocking, and Brown poses more questions than he answers.