After a nice win on Thanksgiving Day, the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) move their attention to their next opponent, the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1). The Colts have been one of the more disappointing teams in football this season, and they currently have just a 2% chance to make the playoffs.
Today we take a look at the Colts’ offense, a unit that has struggled big time this season. Before the two teams square off on Sunday night, here are three things to know about the Indianapolis offense.
1)An inability to protect their quarterback
The Colts’ biggest weakness as an offense this season has been their inability to protect their quarterback. 12 games in, the Colts are the most sacked team in the NFL, allowing an astonishing 43 sacks. For reference, in 2021 the Colts allowed just 32 sacks over the course of a 17-game season.
Indianapolis has the fifth-worst pass-blocking line in football, according to Pro Football Focus, and has allowed their quarterback to be sacked three or more times in eight of their 12 games.
Matt Ryan, who has served as the Colts’ starting quarterback in 10 of their 12 games, has been sacked three or more times in a game seven times. It should come as no surprise that the Colts are 2-5 in those matchups.
Indy has faced five teams this season that currently have a winning record. In those games, they’ve given up 24 sacks, an average of nearly five per game. In Week 9 against New England, Colts’ quarterback Sam Ehlinger was sacked nine times, the most of any quarterback in the league this season.
Unfortunately for the Colts, their biggest weakness plays right into Dallas’ biggest strength.
2) Not the same version of Jonathan Taylor
Last season Jonathan Taylor was arguably the most effective running back in football. The now 23-year-old led the league in rushing yards (1,811), rushing touchdowns (18), and Y/G 106.5. Taylor was the engine that made Indy’s offense go, and he was the biggest reason their team had a chance to make the postseason up until the last weekend of the season.
Injuries and an up-and-down performance have made Taylor a different player this season than he was last year. In 2021, Taylor ranked in the top five in the league in DYAR (511), DVOA (25.3%), and VOA (18.1%). This year, Taylor is 27th in DYAR (-4) and DVOA (-9.2%), and 30th in VOA (-7.9%), via Football Outsiders.
Taylor has not been able to put the offense on his back like he did last season and it’s been reflected in the team’s record.
3) Struggling to protect the football
The Colts don’t just lead the league in sacks allowed, they also lead the league in turnovers. Indy has turned the ball over 21 times this season, tying them with the New Orleans Saints for the most in football. Matt Ryan has accounted for 14 of the Colts’ 21 turnovers this season, throwing 10 interceptions, the second-most in football, and losing four fumbles.
In games where Ryan has not thrown an interception, the Colts are 3-1 with a notable victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Their only loss during these games was a 17-16 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles who hold the best record in football at 10-1.
It’s pretty remarkable how bad the Colts have been at protecting the football. They have at least one turnover in 11 of their 12 games this season, including turning it over two or more times in seven games (1-5-1 record in those games).
You simply aren’t going to win many games when you are turning the ball over at the rate the Colts are.