Here’s what Colts RB Jonathan Taylor has to do to win Offensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Remember coming into the season when we asserted that Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was a prohibitive favorite to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors? Well, that projection doesn’t look great through seven weeks, as the 2020 second-round pick hasn’t even been the best rookie at his position.
In six games, Taylor has taken 89 carries for 367 yards (4.1 YPC) and three touchdowns on the ground, adding 16 receptions for 162 yards in the passing game. While the former Wisconsin star has improved from a yards per attempt standpoint over the last several weeks, he hasn’t eclipsed the 70-yard threshold since Week 2, when he totaled 101 yards and a score against the Vikings.
That obviously isn’t to say that Taylor hasn’t dazzled on some runs, but his stats are going to need to improve drastically in the second half of the campaign for him to have a chance at toppling some of the other contenders in the ORoY race. With that in mind, let’s dive into a breakdown of what the young RB will have to do to put his name back in contention for the award.
According to BetMGM, Taylor currently has 25/1 odds to win the award, which is the seventh-highest mark among rookies. The others? In order, you have Chargers QB Justin Herbert (-159), Bengals QB Joe Burrow (+240), Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (+1000), Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (+1400), Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+1600) and Steelers WR Chase Claypool (+2000).
Unless Tagovailoa does something unprecedented, voters aren’t going to give him the award after sitting out Miami’s first six games. We’re also confident in saying that Claypool, who’s really only on the list because of a four-touchdown performance back in Week 5, will regress to the mean and eventually fade from contention.
That leaves four players Taylor has to outperform and keep pace with over Indianapolis’ final 10 contests. When you take a look at their stats, the former Badger will probably need to breach the 1,100 mark in terms of rushing yards AND at least 10 rushing touchdowns. An uptick in touches in the passing game will also be necessary too, as Edwards-Helaire is averaging an impressive five receptions per game so far — though here comes Le’Veon Bell to slice into his eye-popping totals, right on time!
When you consider that Herbert and Burrow are part of two of the most pass-heavy offenses in the NFL, Taylor will have to put together something extraordinary in the second half of the season. It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility for him to make a dark horse run at the award, but he stands no chance at making things interesting if the Colts continue to put themselves considerably behind the eight ball early on in games.
Taylor will obviously also need the players ahead of him in the rankings to come back down to earth, but you’re playing yourself if you think his case for winning Offensive Rookie of the Year is closed already. 10 games is more than enough time to make up the ground he’s lost.
Especially as Herbert continues to pile up losses, and Burrow continues to toil behind a porous offensive line.