35.3% — Third down conversion rate
While the Colts’ offense was largely impressive in 2023, a critical flaw that held the unit back was subpar third-down efficiency. Indianapolis converted on just 35.3% of third downs. To put that in perspective, just six NFL teams posted a worse mark and only one of those teams made the playoffs. In other words, good teams tend to be effective on third downs, and the Colts need to flip the script on that narrative.
Given that Indianapolis was on the playoff bubble for much of the season and played multiple down-to-the-wire games, their inability to convert on third downs was a huge problem. Those stops are drive-killers and lost scoring opportunities which can be lethal for a team on the fringes of postseason qualification.
The Colts’ third-down struggles bubbled up at the worst possible time as well. In their decisive Week 18 defeat to the Houston Texans, Indianapolis converted on only one of 11 third downs and ended up losing by four points. It’s not hard to imagine that if the Colts had extended a few of their possessions and made a few more red-zone trips, they would have found a way to beat Houston (and ultimately win the AFC South).