The Indianapolis Colts had a pretty good defense in 2016, but it still had some kinks to work out. For example, they failed to generate a consistent pass rush, to stop the run, or to prevent opponents from putting points on the scoreboard – particularly at key times during football games where it cost them the most.
National coverage has also not been kind to their offensive line, often making the assertion that the Colts will have one of the worst offensive lines heading into 2017.
Despite its troubles with its defense and offense, both groups were surprisingly good in a couple of different key areas.
The Offensive Line
One of the areas they excelled at was preventing stuffs. Only 12.9 percent of runs by Indianapolis running backs were stuffed for a loss or no gain, the lowest rate in the league. To put it in perspective, the league average was 19.4 percent.
The Defensive Line
The Colts’ defense has been particularly good at holding its ground during critical moments on drives. They ranked third in run-defense DVOA on third or fourth down and allowed only 42 percent of these runs to convert – compared to a league average of 52 percent. Unfortunately, they also had 2016’s worst run defense on first and second downs, so they still have room for improvement.
For years, one of the defensive line’s biggest weakness has been that it isn’t big enough, particularly at the nose, especially if they want to have regular success in the trenches. They have also been particularly weak for some time in stopping the run.
Something that they could improve on the offensive side of the ball is their long-standing habit of telegraphing play calls – especially in obvious running situations.
Yet, they still managed the best stuff percentage of all offensive lines in the NFL. Yes, they have many things they need to improve, but they also have the potential to overcome them. Let’s just hope they decide to build on their strengths and fix their weaknesses.