Jonathan Taylor is clearly Colts RB of the future despite early struggles

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor is clearly the team’s running back of the future despite his early struggles.

The biggest takeaway through the Indianapolis Colts’ first fives games of the season has evidently been the struggles of Philip Rivers, who is one of four quarterbacks in the NFL with more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4). The 38-year-old is the sole reason Indy isn’t undefeated and many analysts are rightfully beginning to question if signing him was the right move.

Outside of Rivers, the second-most popular reaction from fans has been the ineffectiveness of the rushing attack, which was virtually unstoppable in 2019. With Week 5 officially in the books, the Colts currently rank 20th in the league in rushing yards per game (105.8) and second-to last in yards per carry (3.6).

The struggles of Jonathan Taylor, in particular, have been the most alarming, but the rookie running back had an impressive showing against a stout Browns run defense on Sunday. In fact, when you look at the numbers he’s on pace to post — 983 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns — it’s abundantly clear that Taylor is Indianapolis’ RB of the future despite his struggles to start the year.

Taylor has come under some criticism for his lack of decisiveness on runs before hitting holes, but it’s worth noting that the Colts’ revered offensive line hasn’t been nearly as dominant in the running game as they’ve been in pass protection. Don’t underestimate the fact that Rivers’ rapid decline is playing a big role in the struggles of Indy’s backfield, either.

In an encouraging sign, the group seemed to establish a nice rhythm against Cleveland, whose run defense has surrendered just 87 yards per game this season, as Taylor carried 12 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The Wisconsin product could’ve had an even better game if the Browns didn’t jump out to a big lead in the third quarter after a Rivers interception was returned for a TD. After that, the Colts were in desperation mode and expectedly went pass heavy in an effort to get themselves back in the game.

For as much as the 2020 second-round pick struggled in the first month, his numbers are very much on par with that of injured starter Marlon Mack’s rookie campaign back in 2017, when he averaged 3.85 yards per carry. For comparison’s sake, Taylor is logging a respectable 4.0 YPC and ranks fourth in the league with three rushing scores.

Like any rookie, there are going to be bumps along the way with Taylor, so Colts fans are going to need to be patient with him. However, once the offensive line hits its stride — in 2018 that happened after Week 6 — the former Badger will light up opposing defenses.

We’d almost rather him fly under the radar right now. Either way, Taylor is going to be a Colt for a VERY long time and it’s scary to think that he’s just beginning to scratch the surface of his untapped potential.