Colts Defense: Struggling Against Elite QB’s & Offenses


When the Indianapolis Colts fell to the Dallas Cowboys in a 7-42 blowout of a loss on Sunday, it marked just the latest incident where the Indianapolis Colts defense has struggled against an elite-level NFL quarterback, as well as a prolific offense. Against the Top 10 NFL offenses (in most points scored per game), the Indianapolis Colts are currently 1-5, with their only victory coming in Week 5 against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens:

In truth, Sunday was nothing new for the Colts defense, who allowed Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to complete 18 of 20 passes (90%) for 218 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, all while sporting a stellar Quarterback Rating of 151.7.

The Colts defense has struggled all season against the deemed “elite” quarterbacks of the NFL. Against the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Tony Romo, the Colts defense has been completely dominated:

Specifically, they’ve been dominated to the tune of:

  • 0-4 in Game Results
  • 15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
  • 1,266 total passing yards
  • “Elite” QB’s are boasting a 74.0% completion rate on average
  • “Elite” QB’s are averaging 4 touchdowns and 1 interception per game

To put that in perspective, against deemed “non-elite” NFL quarterbacks, the Colts defense has performed as follows:

While starting quarterbacks like Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, and Eli Manning are still respectable, the Colts defense has largely benefited from playing the likes of Blake Bortles and other unproven or just not that good NFL starting caliber quarterbacks.

Against all other remaining “non-elite” starting quarterbacks played, the Colts defense has fared as follows:

  • 10-1 in game results
  • Surrendered just 10 touchdowns to 9 interceptions overall
  • Remaining quarterbacks are completing just 55.2% of their passes, compared to 74.0%
  • Remaining quarterbacks are averaging just 1 touchdown to 1 interception per game
  • Remaining quarterbacks have an average Quarterback Rating of just 73.4.

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The Colts defense has often played well at times, but when it has, it simply hasn’t come against elite NFL starting quarterbacks or offenses for the most part (with the exception of Baltimore in the latter’s instance).

Looking ahead to the playoffs, it doesn’t bode well going forward. As it stands, the Colts are currently looking at playing Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers again in the Wildcard round. The same Big Ben who shredded them for 522 passing yards and 6 touchdowns in Week 8 of this season. If not Big Ben, the Colts defense will play Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals again, who obviously pose a more favorable matchup given the previous results.

Beyond that round, there’s likely a matchup with either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, so the Colts defense won’t be able to hide for long against elite quarterbacks or offenses for that matter.