What ‘role’ is Frank Reich talking about for Jonathan Taylor?
By Jerry Trotta
Colts head coach Frank Reich acknowledged that running back Jonathan Taylor has a new “role” and we’re not sure what he means.
Fans in Indianapolis have been up in arms about the lack of identity of the Colts’ offense for seemingly the entire season, and we totally concur. Just when you think they’re back to being a run-first team, sluggish starts force them to call Philip Rivers’ number more than anybody with a fraction of football knowledge would be comfortable with.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that all three of Indy’s losses have come in games where Rivers dropped back to pass more than 30 times, so why has running back Jonathan Taylor been phased out of the game plan in recent weeks?
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, head coach Frank Reich acknowledged that the 2020 second-round pick is adjusting to a new role compared to the exhausting workload he handled over three years at Wisconsin, and we’re not sure what he means by that.
"“It’s definitely a different role for him,” Reich said. “I know he wants the ball 30 times a game like you got in college, but he’s willing to play the role that he’s in right now and grow into it. Very confident it’s going to work out for Jonathan in the long run.’’"
We understand where Reich is coming from, because the Badgers offense quite literally ran through Taylor for three seasons. During that span, he averaged close to 23 carries across 42 career games, and took at least 20 carries on 28 different occasions.
It goes without saying that Taylor’s role as a rookie in the NFL has decreased dramatically, as he’s logged more than 20 carries in a single game just once through eight fixtures. That game in a blowout victory over Minnesota back in Week 2. Since then, however, he’s become almost an afterthought in the Colts’ offense, tallying fewer than 14 carries in five of six games.
Perhaps more concerning if the fact that Taylor has received a combined two carries in the second half of Indianapolis’ last two contests, so what exactly is his role, Reich? Because the Wisconsin product is fresh off his two lowest snap counts of the season — 33.8% against Detroit and 30.9% vs the Ravens — since the opening game of the campaign.
Keep in mind that these puzzling comments come just a few days after the 58-year-old HC declared that the coaching staff hadn’t lost confident in the first-year RB. In our eyes, it sounds like Reich and Co. don’t trust Taylor to be a workhorse back at the NFL level just yet and are scared of what sort of chaos would ensure if they admitted that publicly.
Whatever the case, let’s hope that Thursday night’s showdown against Tennessee sheds more light on this mystifying situation.