Colts have a major problem holding them back and it could cost Indy a playoff spot

The Indianapolis Colts lost to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, as a problem that has plagued Indy all season cost the team another game.
Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

In Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, just about everything went wrong for the Indianapolis Colts. Some things going wrong were shocking to see. Like Indy’s offense only scoring once, Matt Gay missing kicks, and the Colts not being able to run the ball. However, Indy also had a problem on Sunday with something that the team has been plagued by all season long. Indianapolis was terrible on third down.

Against the Bengals, the Colts were 3-of-11 on third down. Unfortunately, that lack of third-down effeiency wasn’t a rarity for Indianapolis; the team has been bad on third down all year. Indy entered Sunday’s game converting just 36.31% of it’s third downs. That’s 22nd in the NFL. After Sunday’s game, Indianapolis is now 64-of-179 on third downs, dropping them down to 35.8%.

Colts have been bad on third down all season

The Colts have been able to overcome their poor third-down effeciency, as they currently have a 7-6 record and are alive in the playoff race. Part of the way Indy has been able to overcome this struggle is by being aggressive and efficient on fourth downs. Indy is 13-of-25 (52%) on fourth down attempts this season. While being good on fourth down is great, being as bad as Indy is on third down isn’t sustainable.

If Indianapolis wants to finish the year strong, the offense has to figure out its third down struggles. Oftentimes, that means being better in first and second down. The Colts have to cut down on penalties, sacks, and just poorly executed plays that put them behind the sticks. They also just need to flat out be better on third down as well.

There are times when Indy is facing a manageable third down, and for whatever reason, can’t convert. Then, the Colts comeback a play later and execute a fourth-down play from the exact same yardage. It’s best to not live with that stress, letting things go down to the offense’s last chance.

It’s unlikely that a team will make a significant change to something that has been a trend all season long, but if the Colts can marginally improve, they’ll be better for it. If they can’t, it could be the difference between making the playoffs and being on the outside looking in.