Colts: Marlon Mack-Jonathan Taylor plan feels like it won’t last long
By Jerry Trotta
The Colts’ plan for running backs Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor feels like it won’t last very long.
The Indianapolis Colts took their fanbase by surprise when they selected Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 Draft. After all, they boasted a rushing attack that finished seventh in the NFL last season in terms of yards (133.1) per game.
However, if there was one reason for general manager Chris Ballard to nab the Wisconsin product — other than his imposing skillset, of course — it could be due to the fact that Marlon Mack is entering a contract year and has never played a full 16-game slate thus far in his career.
On their unofficial Week 1 depth chart, the Colts expectedly listed Taylor as Mack’s backup, but you have to think the former will be putting pressure on the latter to produce so that he holds on to the starting job, right?
Not exactly. According to a report from The Athletic, Indianapolis drafted the former Badger to spell Mack and keep him fresh for the fourth quarter, when the team (assuming it has a lead) will opt to chew clock by running the rock.
"“It was a surprise when the team drafted Taylor in the second round, particularly with Marlon Mack, a 1,000-yard rusher, already on the roster,” wrote Zak Keefer. “The move wasn’t made to supplant Mack, as one team source put it after the draft, it was to make Mack better.“The Colts feel that Taylor can spell Mack mid-game, keeping him fresher for the fourth quarter.”"
It’s worth noting that the report acknowledged that head coach Frank Reich will ride the hot hand during games if Taylor is outperforming his teammate, which makes complete sense. What doesn’t, however, is the Colts’ supposed intention in drafting the 21-year-old stud to merely relieve Mack.
We mean no disrespect to Mack in saying this, but it doesn’t sound like that plan is going to last very long. There’s just no way Indy used a second-round pick on Taylor if it didn’t plan to feature him early and often as a rookie. We’re not saying that the former college superstar will end up supplanting the South Florid product as the starter this season, but you have to assume that they will come close to splitting touches, no?
If the Colts drafted Taylor to give Mack an occasional breather, then why not just roll with Jordan Wilkins as the backup and use that second-rounder to address a position that actually could have used an upgrade?
Nobody wants that. Reich and Co. might not to reveal their actual plans for Taylor in Year 1 just yet, but we refuse to get tricked into thinking that he will be used sparingly after putting together one of the greatest collegiate careers of all time.
And that’s not even to mention 2021.