Colts Game Stats Analysis – Week 1

Colts running back Joseph Addai with running room, a sign of things to come? (Bob Levey | Getty Images)

Welcome to this year’s installment of Game Stats. For those of you who remember last year’s version of Game Stats, you will remember the ever increasing amount of numbers, stats, and words that began to fill up the posts, and eventually delayed their publication. Not so with this years version (hopefully)!

Following an offseason of trial and error I’ve added even more statistics and attempted to streamline the process for recording them. Streamlined does not mean ‘fast,’ though. This 12 hour process garners quite a bit of useful information, but it is really too much to digest all at once.  For that reason we shall be saying goodbye to most of the excessive charts and figures that clogged up last years edition of Game Stats.

From now on these posts shall be more analysis than statistics, but fear not readers, the numbers will still be available. Now, when you go under the Stat page at Coltzilla, instead of viewing last years results you will be welcomed to a 2011 breakdown. All the 2010 data will still be available.

Each week’s results will be listed under the corresponding row with the week number leading readers to a general game breakdown and the offense and defense links taking readers to a more detailed look at each unit.

Now, it’s time to look at this week’s game…

The first thing that stuck out on game film, and in the statistics themselves, was the IMPROVEMENT on the offensive line. While line play was one of the most lambasted aspects of this past week’s game, detailed study of the line actually showed that despite highlighted negative plays, the line was actually a significant step up from last year’s model. Don’t get me wrong, there were still significant mistakes across the line, but the results as a whole show an improvement in the number of positive blocks made, especially at offensive tackle.

Jeff Linkenbach has come under extraordinary fire for his mistakes in last week’s game, and while he did post the lowest score on the line (67.3% good, 23.1% bad) his numbers were actually a 10 point improvement over current RG Ryan Diem’s average numbers from last year. If nothing else that should highlight the absolutely atrocious state right tackle was in last year. Still, while Linkenbach’s numbers were better in his second outing at RT they were still not acceptable.

In Linkenbach’s first outing (Wild Card game last year) he posted a score of 72.2%/9.3% while his time at OT as a whole was a much better 71.8% good and 10.4% bad. Due to the relative consistency of Jeff’s positive numbers, I’m interested to see if this was simply a one off game, like other linemen had all last year. If he can bring his negative plays back to the 10% level he was at last year, he will be close to 20 points better than Diem’s season average.

The rest of the line was mostly improved from last years counterparts as well, with LT Anthony Castonzo being another big winner as a 10.1 point increase over Charlie Johnson. One other positive thing to note was that LG Joe Reitz was actually exceptionally stable at the guard role. He posted a score of 90.4% good and 7.7% bad.  Still, he allowed 1 sack in his first NFL regular season outing (and 1 pressure). For comparison, LG Kyle Devan (who is now starting at guard for the Eagles) averaged 86.0% good blocks and 6.3% bad blocks with only 1 sack and 5 pressures through 13 games. Reitz showed positive signs for sure, but will have to work at ensuring his negative plays aren’t game changers.

The final two offensive linemen worry me. Perennial stalwart Jeff Saturday has continued his less than stellar performance from the preseason indicating that the rust may be a little bit more stuck on than had been previously thought. While his blocking percentage was not horrible (73.1% good and 11.5% bad) he did allow 4 pressures, which combined with Diem’s results made the middle a very dangerous place in Kerry Collin’s protection. Diem is an improvement over the continually demoted Mike Pollak, but Diem still found a way to have over 20% negative blocks. He will have to improve as well or the Colts will be looking at having only a mild improvement over Pollak, who was a major liability.

For the rest of the offense I was surprised by a couple of things. First, both Brody Eldridge and Austin Collie were on the field significantly more than I had originally thought. Collie was on the field for 33 snaps while Eldridge was on the field for 20. Eldridge was exceptional blocking once again, but Collie had very little impact, obviously enough. Collie actually had 3 targets with 1 drop (his foot on the back of the endzone), 1 overthrow, and 1 pass defended. And on the whole, Kerry Collins did not have his wide receivers to blame for mistakes on the field.

Collins had 10 overthrows and only 2 drops, none of which were dropped by Garcon. Garcon actually had 7 targets, which was second among all pass catchers. But the point with the overthrows is that last year, with a much worse offensive line — and without Gonzalez, Clark, and Collie — Manning averaged less than 4 overthrows for a comparable 31 attempt game. The silver lining in all of this is that as Collins starts getting used to the weapons he has, and figures out how to utilize his first down machines in Clark and Collie, the offense has the signs of clicking, and clicking in a hurry.

The running backs did not get a ton of work, but they did average a fairly respectable 4.27 YPC, and Delone Carter was not stuffed at all in any of his 7 carries.

On Defense some of the things I noticed were….

*  The defensive line had a varied rotation with Freeney and Mathis getting approximately two-thirds of the snaps at DE while the 4 DTs split the snap count fairly equal down the middle between each of them. The biggest contributors on the defensive line?  Rookie Drake Nevis who had 3 tackles along with a hit and a pressure on the QB and Eric Foster who had 4 tackles, 1 assist, and 2 pressures on the QB from his nose tackle role.

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were both relatively quiet with both contributing 4 pressures, and Mathis adding a sack for 2 yards. Anderson and Brayton were completely invisible at defensive end while Moala and Mookie had only a minimal impact on the inside.

*  The linebackers had a back and forth game in many respects. Pat Angerer was involved in 17 tackles as far as I could see (10 assists, 7 tackles), but had 2 missed tackles and a broken tackle to his credit while also allowing 39 yards on 3 targets in the passing game. That is nearly double the average for linebackers last year. Gary Brackett also did fairly well before spraining his shoulder. He had 5 tackles and 3 assists to go along with his interception, but he also had a missed and broken tackle.

Kavell Conner continued to show his tackling problems by getting 2 missed tackles in the first quarter before calming down and playing relatively mistake free football the rest of the game. He was able to rack up an assist, 3 tackles, a pass defended, 2 hits and a pressure, so for him the game was more positive than negative as a whole. Even rookie Adrian Moten looked good in his limited time on the field. In 13 snaps, he recorded 2 tackles and a pressure.

With both Sims and Brackett seemingly out for the foreseeable future fans should expect to see more of Moten and Wheeler.

*  Despite being the butt of numerous complaints from fans this preseason, 3rd year CB Jacob Lacey ended up not being picked on as much as fans predicted. He, Jerraud Powers, and Justin Tryon were all thrown at 3 times, with Jerraud Powers leading the group with 3 receptions allowed for 47 yards while Lacey and Tryon both only allowed 2 for 34 and 30 yards respectively.

Lacey finished the game with 3 assists, 4 tackles and a forced fumble, while Powers ended up with 3 assists and 5 tackles in addition to a QB pressure. Tryon ended up with 2 tackles on 16 snaps. At Safety, Bethea was relatively productive with 7 tackles and 2 assists, while Bullitt was relatively quiet despite getting an interception, as he had just 2 assists and 3 tackles.