The Indianapolis Colts’ offense looked like an improved unit on Sunday but was it just because they were facing a bad defense?
In Week 9, the offense for the Indianapolis Colts hit rock bottom against the New England Patriots, scoring just three points and only gaining 121 total yards while allowing nine sacks. That outing led to Frank Reich being fired and Jeff Saturday being hired as interim head coach. In Saturday’s first few days as head coach, he had to make two major decisions: naming a play-caller and a starting quarterback. Saturday named Parks Frazier as the play-caller and Matt Ryan as the quarterback.
All of those decisions led to the Colts having one of their most productive offensive outings of the season. En route to a victory, the offense scored 25 points, put up 415 yards by running and passing for more than 200 yards, turned the ball over once, and also only allowed one sack. It was an exciting performance that was needed and energizing for a fan base that had been going through chaos and a three-game losing streak.
Now that the excitement of the win is wearing off, it’s fair to ask if this was a real improvement from Indy’s offense or if it was just a case of finding success against a struggling Las Vegas Raiders team that is especially bad on defense.
Was the offensive performance against Raiders a fluke for Colts?
In the NFL, you take positive production anyway it comes, especially when you’ve been struggling as Indianapolis has been on offense the last few weeks. But when honestly assessing, the quality of the opponent has to be factored into the evaluation. The quality of Vegas’ defense is cheap and easily destructible.
Entering Sunday’s game, the Raiders were allowing 25 points a game and 371 yards a game, both ranked 28th in the NFL. They were bad against the pass, giving up 255 yards a game, and average against the run, containing opponents to 116 yards a game. So, Las Vegas wasn’t necessarily a tough test for Saturday, Frazier, and Ryan.
The Colts scored 25 points which is what Vegas allows on average, had 415 total yards, more than the Raiders’ average, threw for 208 yards, less than Las Vegas’ average, and rushed for 207 yards, more than the Raiders usually allow. That shows Indianapolis was genuinely doing some things well. The Raiders may be bad on defense, but Indy still had to actually put things together.
Sunday could’ve just been two bad units battling to see which group was worse but the Colts’ offense did actually find a way to be competent. However, it’s hard to tell if this is a significant improvement and if it’s something that’ll be a trend for Indianapolis moving forward. The truth will soon come to light as Indy is set to face the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11.
As the record shows, the Eagles are a much better team than the Raiders and their defense is also one of the best in the NFL. Philly only allows 299 yards per game, third-least in the league, and 16.9 points, also third-best in the NFL. If the Colts can find a way to be productive offensively Sunday against the Eagles, then it’s clear the offense turned a corner.