Three numbers to know for Colts-Broncos
DENVER — Let’s talk about fumbles.
And let’s talk about someone other than Broncos RB Melvin Gordon. Because as it turns out, he’s not the only player in the Thursday night limelight who has ball-security issues.
That’s a fine place to start this week’s look at the numbers:
That is the number of times Colts quarterback Matt Ryan has either fumbled or thrown an interception in the season’s first four games. On average, Ryan fumbles or tosses a pick once every 12.7 QB plays (pass attempts, rushing attempts and times sacked).
Among the 361 quarterbacks with at least 120 QB plays in the season’s first four games since 2020, Ryan’s ball-loss rate is the second-worst. Only then-Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was worse. In 2016, Fitzpatrick had one fumble or interception every 12.4 QB plays.
Fumbles are the primary driver. Ryan has 9 fumbles in 4 games, losing 3. His fumble tally is the highest for any QB at this point in a season since Kurt Warner had 10 fumbles in the first 4 games of 2004 while playing for the New York Giants, per the data compiled by pro-football-reference.com.
Four of Ryan’s fumbles came in the Colts’ Week 1 tie at Houston.
Losing Randy Gregory is a huge blow to the Broncos’ attempts to extend Ryan’s generosity. Gregory’s 2 forced fumbles this season trail only Philadelphia’s Haason Reddick (3).
But with Ryan being something of a stationary target, the Broncos should be able to get the ball out at least once from Ryan, who has at least 1 fumble in 6 consecutive games and 7 of his last 8 dating back to 2021 with the Atlanta Falcons.
Running backs since 1990 with 5 fumbles in the first 5 games of a season. Gordon sits one fumble away from joining this club.
What is interesting is that it’s a group of generally accomplished players. One is a Hall of Famer, Jerome Bettis. Another is Todd Gurley, who had 5 fumbles in the first 5 games of 2017 … and went on to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage that season. Lorenzo White (1990), Dave Meggett (1991), Jamal Anderson (2000) and Chris Perry (2008) round out the group, as compiled in data from pro-football-reference.com.
As it stands, Gordon’s 4 fumbles place him among 41 running backs since 1990 with 4 fumbles in the first 5 games. However, only three — Brian Mitchell (1991), Cory Schlesinger (1999) and Deuce McAllister (2004) — had 4 fumbles in fewer total touches than Gordon’s 45.
Denver’s win total in Thursday-night games since 2006, when Thursday-evening games became a frequent part of the NFL’s TV package. Only Indianapolis has more, with 12.
But Denver’s .647 win rate on TNF ranks just seventh. The Colts have a win rate of .750, going 12-4 on Thursday nights. One of the losses was to the Broncos — in 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium.