Colts RB Nyheim Hines dominated on Thursday night.
The Indianapolis Colts put together arguably their most complete performance of the season in Thursday’s night win over the division-rival Tennessee Titans, which completely changes the outlook of the rest of their season.
The defense kept a good Titans offense in check after a woeful display on the opening drive of the game, limiting Pro Bowl quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a 55.6% completion percentage and just 147 passing yards, a far cry from his 236.4 season average.
The offensive game plan, meanwhile, clearly emphasized getting the ball out of Philip Rivers’ hands before he was faced with pressure and did an exceptional job at spreading Tennessee’s defense thin by sharing the wealth. Eight players logged at least three touches.
It goes without saying that running back Nyheim Hines was the player of the game on either side of the ball, racking up 115 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 6.7 yards per touch. In light of his latest breakthrough performance, the Colts coaching staff should finally be convinced to get him more involved moving forward.
With Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins struggling to find a rhythm on the ground early on, Hines came in and was virtually unstoppable, scoring both of his touchdowns when the Colts were trailing and picking up huge chunks of yards on seemingly all of his touches.
Clearly the most effective of the trio, Frank Reich listened to running backs coach Tom Rathman, who advocated to leave Hines in as the lead guy amid his hot start, and the head coach’s postgame comments about the 24-year-old suggests he has a newfound confidence in him.
"“He just came out and had the fire in his eye,” Reich told reporters. “Can’t explain it. Every now and then, you know how it is, you’re just in the zone.”"
If we’re being honest, the fact that Hines only finds a groove “every now and then” is because Reich and Co. maddeningly pick and choose when to fully unleash him. From Weeks 2 to 9, he inexplicably logged a 29.5% snap share. We get that he’s more of a pass-catching specialist than an established backfield runner, but he’s a handful (to say the least) for opposing defenses when he finds himself in space with the ball in his hands.
It’s not a stretch to say that Hines has been the Colts’ best offensive player this season, and he simply needs to be made a priority for the remainder of the way. Anything less would prove that the coaching staff learned nothing from Thursday night’s win over Tennessee.