Yes, I know we are well past the game in Denver, but due to some technical errors in obtaining a complete video feed of the game against the Broncos, the stats weren’t completed until almost game time against Jacksonville. As such, these stats are dated, but will help to clarify some trends also saw against that Jaguars. One of the interesting stats is that compared to the other games this year, Manning was having an off day, while the receivers were fairly spot on. Another trend is that the left side of the offensive line is getting significantly better from week to week, while the right side is getting worse over time.
As this is a week late, I will keep the jabber relatively short, and just highlight the most interesting facts. As always, we’ll start with the offense, and if you’d like any of the data, feel free to email me.
Things to Note on the Offense
* I added a couple of new stats to help clear some things up. I added PDs (Passes Defended) to both receivers and the quarterback. This number helps to display both the decision making by the quarterback and the effectiveness of the opposing secondary. The second set of new stats are for the offensive line, specifically the “S” and “A” statistics. These stand for “Superior Block” and “Assisted Block” respectively, and I’ve defined a Superior Block as one that stops the defender at the line of scrimmage or forces the defender backward. I hope to be able to go back to the first two games to include those stats so they will be reflected in the seasonal stats by the end of the year.
* Undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach did very well filling in at left tackle. Through the first two games, starter Charlie Johnson did not break 60% good blocks and had at least 17.2% bad blocks in both games. While not exceptional (allowed a hit and pressure), Linkenbach did manage to have a more consistent performance than we had seen from Johnson up to this point. Left guard Jamey Richard also stood out for his improved play. Despite some doubts surrounding Richard and concerns that he’d hurt the line, he posted his second straight game with over 80% good blocks and less than 10% bad. By comparison, right guard Mike Pollak (former second round pick) posted a mediocre percentage of good blocks (identical to Houston), and an alarmingly high percentage of bad blocks. Pollak’s deficiencies were only compounded by the fact that right tackle Ryan Diem’s good blocks fell under 50% for the second time in three games.
* Despite the receiving corps having fairly unimpressive catch rates, there was only one dropped pass among them. Manning doubled his number of overthrows, suggesting that he was probably not having his best day — he still managed to throw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. When I shared this information, a fellow Colts fan said, “We are very spoiled to have Manning. The guy can throw three touchdowns and have a bad day!” We are indeed spoiled to have Manning as our QB.
* The formation trend continues where the Colts passing attack is most effective when from a 4-WR set and the running attack is most effective in 3-WR sets. This is amusing. The formation that screams “We are going to throw the football,” is most effective when Manning puts the ball in the air. That does not hold true for the Colts running game, but for some reason *cough* Manning *cough* the passing game is even more effective when the opposition knows full well that ball is going to be fly in about 3 seconds.
Things to Note on the Defense
* We now know that defensive tackle Mitch King was on his way out — he was already starting to lose snaps. Against Houston and New York, Mookie Johnson and King were paired together all the time, and only separated when they split snaps 50-50 with Dawson and Foster along the defensive interior. This week, Mookie got twice as many snaps as King, and was rotated in alongside Moala and Muir more often than he was with King.
* Despite not getting as many sacks as they’d like, Freeney and Mathis did put pressure on the quarterback and force quick throws. Tighter pass coverage may have made these pressures more effective, potentially leading to sacks. Everyone defensive lineman but Eric Foster put some kind of pressure on the QB. What Foster lacked in pressure, he made up as the most active tackler on the defensive line.
* Despite continuing to be used less than half of the game, strong-side linbacker Philip Wheeler was again a fairly steady component of the defense. He has been skewered for poor performances in the past, but recently has been a consistent tackler, and just as active as middle linebacker Gary Brackett in getting to the ball and making stops. A season does not a game make, but in this particular game, the play of a number of generally less heralded players was quite impressive.
* While this is an obvious observation, it is interesting that the Colts defensive formations actually managed to have their desired result statistically. In the dime formation (4-1-4-2), passing yards per attempt were the lowest of all three major formations (Dime, Nickel, and the base Tampa-2). Likewise, the basic formation, which is least equipped to prevent passing plays, tended to give up more yards through the air. This is trend can be seen in the seasonal stats as well, but usually such a trend is not as uniform and clear as it is in this case.