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Forums > Old News > SB Nation’s Bill Connelly recently wrote
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly recently wrote

Posts: 53
Post Date: 07/08/19 @ 2:39AM Topic: SB Nation’s Bill Connelly recently wrote

that one of the biggest strengths for the Colts heading into the playoffs is starting field position.In a follow up piece on Stampede Blue Indianapolis Colts Hoodie , Brett Mock wrote:Well, when it comes to numbers you only have to ask me once. So, let’s talk about stats, baby. Let’s talk about A plus B. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things with Indy. (for you yutes, that is an early 90s reference. . . as is yutes)YARDSFirst of all, let’s establish the numbers.Since I don’t have access to the data that Connelly used, I am going to use my own data which doesn’t exactly match his, but is close enough for government work.I show the 2018 average NFL starting field position for all teams was the 28.5 yard line. For the Colts, on average, the offense started at the 29.7(9th best) and the defense went to work on the 27.6 (10th best). When adding in the number of drives, I can calculate the total yardage advantage thusly: Incremental Field PositionTeamColtsNFLYds +/- AvgDrivesTtl +/-TeamColtsNFLYds +/- AvgDrivesTtl +/-That 375 yards of extra field position is pretty good. In fact, it ranks 5th of all teams. Notice that 8 of the top 10 teams are in the playoffs. Not a coincidence. POINTSQuantifying yardage impact into something tangible like points isn’t straight forward and it leads us into the mystical world of Expected Points. I will let Brian Burke, the creator of EP, explain:Since all drives start as a 1st & 10, this really simplifies the issue for the problem at hand. All I have to do is find the average “next points” for every play that is a 1st and 10. While the curve jumps around a bit, the core signal is linear with a constant slope. This means that a change in yardage of X anywhere on the field has the same relative impact to expected points.For example, The trendline formula gives a slope of 0.0617.So, every incremental 10 yards of field position results in incremental expected points of 10 x 0.0617 = 0.617 no matter where on the field the ball is. This is surprising to a lot of people and is really the answer to Brett’s question (although I’m sure, not in the language he wanted). Field position impacts points in a linear manner.There isn’t a surge (increased slope) or tipping point in expected points as you near the opponent 1 yard line, rather that change happens slowly and evenly as you move down the field. So , armed with this EP knowledge, I can extend the original table like this:Incremental Field PositionTeamColtsNFLYds +/- AvgDrivesTtl +/-EP per YardTotal EPTeamColtsNFLYds +/- AvgDrivesTtl +/-EP per YardTotal EPTa-da!The impact of better field position is 13.4 more offensive points and 9.7 fewer opponent points over the season or almost 1.5 net points per game.Too bad that can’t be converted into wins . . . Oh wait! I can do that too!WINSPythagorean Expected Wins uses a team’s season total points for and against to determine how many games they were expected to win.Pythagorean Expected Season Wins = 16 * (Points For ^ 2.53) / (Points For ^ 2.53 + Points Against ^ 2.53)For 2018, the Colts scored 433 points and gave up 344, so their Pythagorean wins was 16 * (433 ^ 2.53) / (433 ^ 2.53 + 344^ 2.53) = 10.3 gamesHowever, if our field position were just average, then the offense would have been expected to score 13.4 fewer and the defense would have been expected to give up 9.7 more and the revised formula would have been: 16 * (419.6 ^ 2.53) / (419.6 ^ 2.53 + 353.7 ^ 2.53) = 9.7 gamesSo, the difference between the Colt’s consistently good field position and NFL average is estimated to be the difference between 10.3 and 9.7 wins. That 0.6 expected wins might have been the difference between playoffs on the road or playoffs on the couch. Every week, I will present a summary of some basic and advanced stats for the Colts performance relative to the league. Thanks to Pro Football Reference, and the nflSCrapR project for being awesome sources of weekly data.Well, the Colt’s offense did not cover the 7.5 point spread but they certainly did put up enough points to win.And so while not nearly as good as the previous 3 weeks, the offense was still pretty good. Outside of the turnovers, the Colts moved the ball well with an overall 74.3% Drive Success Rate.That’s not to ignore the turnovers as they still count, but anytime a team puts up 26 first downs with 7.0 yards per play, that will translate to points.TEAM TOTALSThe jump-off-the-page stat here is the drop in third down conversions. The Colts entered the game with a league leading 52% 3DC but against the Dolphins, even with an advantageous 5.8 average yards to gain, they only managed a 33% 3DC, which ranks 22nd for the week. Fortunately,the Colts converted 1st and 2nd downs at an elevated rate so the more important overall conversion rate was still high (35%).PASSINGThe only thing more ridiculous than Luck’s 81% completion rate is that 3 other QBs actually had a higher number (technically, Jacoby Brissett also had a 100% completion rate but I’m not counting that). Air Yards is about the same as the previous 2 weeks, but Indy receivers posted 6.6 Yards After the Catch Parris Campbell Jersey , which was by far their best effort of the season.Those numbers directly tie to the 6 explosive passing plays for 161 yards with 4 of those being T.Y. Hilton connections for 105 yards.All of that combines into an impressive 9.1 YPA (9.3 excluding Brissett’s pass).However, because of the 2 picks, Andrew Luck’s Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt was only mediocre (8.0) causing the “meh” ranking this week. But outside of those picks, the passing game was lights out. RUSHINGThe run game didn’t fare as well. Although 4.5 Yards Per Carry is not bad and Mack was playing well before leaving the game with a concussion (85 yds, 5.6 ypc), those yards didn’t translate to first downs, which is what matters (and why ypc is a crap stat).An actual Rush Success Rate of 42% and a weighted RSR of 33% places the effort in the bottom third of the league. CONCLUSIONS & NEXT MATCH-UPThe Colts really only had 1 bad drive in the second half and outside of the turnovers looked competent in the first half. However, while the overall effort was statistically good, it definitely leaves a bothersome aftertaste.Fixing the mental errors will be a must for this team to make the playoffs and that starts in week 13 against the Jaguars.Since the Jags will have a new OC, a new QB and will probably be missing their starting running back, comparing offensive stats seems moot. But I’ll do it anyway. On the season, the Jag’s DSR of 66.7% ranks 27th and they are putting up less than 18 points per game. Their pass game has relied on shorter passes with the 31st shortest Air Yards per attempt but that is made up for by having the 7th best YAC in the league.In week 10, the Jags hung 9.9 YAC on the Colts and if that repeats it will be a lot closer of a game than expected. Jacksonville has been slightly more successful in the run game, ranking 19th in wRSR. However, they are likely losing Fournette (3.5 ypc, 30.8% wRSR) and Bortles who is their 3rd leading rusher. T.J. Yeldon has shown to be efficient (4.1 ypc, 31.0% wRSR) but he can only take up so much slack. SEASON TOTALS (per game)
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