The Indianapolis Colts’ defense is thriving on 3rd down defense, as they’re 1st in the league at 30%. In their last 4 games, all of which have been wins, the Colts have held opposing offenses to only 7 successful conversions on 38 attempts for an incredibly low 3rd down conversion rate of 18.4%.
In turn, this has allowed the Colts’ defense to get on and off the field quickly, and it’s directly driving another key statistic, time of possession. Opposing offenses’ allowed time of possession per game against the Colts is 23:32, the best in the NFL. The defense in 2nd, the San Diego Chargers, have an allowed time of possession per game of 25:26, nearly 2 minutes more.
In their last 4 games, all of which have been wins, the Colts have held opposing offenses to only 7 successful conversions on 38 attempts for an incredibly low 3rd down conversion rate of 18.4%.
A big reason for their success has been their increased pressure in recent weeks, but it also comes down to exceptional coverage by the Colts’ secondary.
According to ProFootballFocus (PFF), the Colts are currently ranked 8th in pass coverage as a team, not bad for a team that is missing both of its projected starting safeties to open the season. Specifically, Delano Howell is on season-ending IR due to a lingering neck injury, while LaRon Landry is in the midst of serving a 4 game suspension for PED’s.
While some of the success can be attributed to the exceptional play of Mike Adams at safety as previously covered, the Colts have also gotten solid play from their cornerbacks collectively as a unit. Their #1 CB, Vontae Davis, leads the team through 6 games with a dismal opposing quarterback rating of 34.3 when targeted (PFF). His counterparts, namely Greg Toler and Darius Butler, have been a bit more up and down, but they’ve made the plays when they’ve mattered the most.
It will be interesting to see if they can keep up their current stingy pace, but it’s night and day from some of the Colts’ defenses we’ve seen in years past, which truly struggled to get off the field on 3rd down:
The 2011 defense was simply dreadful at an almost league worst of 45% (31st), but since that time, the Colts have begun to positively trend upward as a defense. Here’s hoping they can keep up the 3rd down thriftiness, as they’ve been absolutely dominant in their last 4 games.