Robert Mathis Effect: Colts 2013 vs. 2014 Pass Rush

The Colts defense was aggressive and exotic to come within one sack last season of matching its 2013 total, even without Robert Mathis.

INDIANAPOLIS --- The Colts defense was able to come within one sack of their 2013 total last season, despite losing Robert Mathis and his league-leading 19.5 sacks from the prior year.

In 2014, the Colts sacked the quarterback 41 times, compared to 42 sacks in 2013. Statistical analysis and a study of game tape shows how.

Without Robert Mathis, Head Coach Chuck Pagano and Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky dialed up significantly more blitzes than they did in 2013.

Blitz Frequency - Pass Plays Only

Total Passes

Blitzes

Blitz%

2013

578

173

29.9%

2014

584

239

40.9%

However, the Colts sack percentage on those blitzes stayed virtually identical from 2013 to 2014.

Blitz Sack Percentage

Blitzes

Blitz Sacks

Blitz Sack%

2013

173

18

10.4%

2014

239

25

10.5%

The success rate on blitzes may have stayed about the same, but without Robert Mathis on the field, the Colts defense had to rely more on blitzes to almost match its sack total from the previous year. In 2013, the Colts generated the majority of their sacks without a blitz, with Mathis accounting for 19.5 of the overall total of 42 sacks.

Sack Breakdown

Blitz Sacks

No Blitz Sacks

Total Sacks

2013

18

24

42

2014

25

16

41

Watch the last two sacks Robert Mathis had in a Colts uniform. His rare talent jumps off the game tape. Neither was a blitz. Mathis also generated fumbles on both.



Now watch a few sacks from the Colts 2014 season, when Mathis was out for the year with a torn Achilles. You see multiple examples of not only blitzes, but exotic blitzes, with various sub packages and formations, all with the intent of confusing the offense.

3rd down statistics further show how much the Colts brought more blitzes in 2014. 11 of the Colts 41 sacks came on 3rd down blitzes, more than any other situation. In 2013, the majority of the Colts 42 sacks also came on 3rd down, but amazingly again, without a blitz.

3rd Down Sacks

Blitz%

Blitz Sacks

No Blitz Sacks

2013

34.1%

7

11

2014

57.7%

11

2

That is the effect Robert Mathis had in 2013. The ability to get more sacks without the blitz and add more players in coverage. If Manusky decides to dial up more blitzes in 2015 with Mathis back, the Colts should see an increase in the 10.5% sack success rate on blitzes, making it all the more challenging for opposing offenses. Regardless, having Robert Mathis back appears like it will only help.

Did I mention the Colts also added Trent Cole's 85.5 career sacks to go with the 111 career sacks by Mathis? Just checking.

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