Colts: Jonathan Taylor finding momentum at perfect time for Indy
By Jerry Trotta
Colts rookie RB Jonathan Taylor is clearly past his early-season struggles.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Indianapolis Colts started hitting their stride as soon as running back Jonathan Taylor broke out of his rookie slump. Like most analysts and pundits, we were quick to highlight his struggles through the first nine games of the season, when he was averaging a lousy 3.64 yards per carry.
That difficult period also included a three-game stretch in the middle of the year where Taylor saw his workload and snap count plummet in significant fashion. During that span, he logged just eight carries per contest and played 29.6% of the offensive snaps.
Given his talent and unwavering work ethic, however, Taylor’s patience and persistence has predictably started paying off of late and his emergence over the last four weeks really couldn’t have come at a better time for the Colts during their playoff push.
"“Of course, there are going to be some — I don’t even want to call it adversity because we had guys making a ton of plays that elite players make,” Taylor said of his decreased workload in November. “But really, it was just finding a way to make your snaps count.“That was one of the biggest things mentally, is no matter when my number is called, how can I make this work, how can I make this play go? This is my assignment; how can I do my job to a ‘T’ and execute it perfectly every time?”"
Taylor really started flipping the script vs Green Bay back in Week 11, when he took 22 carries for 90 yards. Those numbers only equate to 4.09 yards per tote, but the big takeaway from the overtime win was the fact that Indy turned to him in the second half — which is something they didn’t do earlier in the season — even though they trailed by two touchdowns. His 46 snaps that game were the most he’d logged since Week 2.
Since then, the Wisconsin product hasn’t looked back. Over the last three games, he’s rushed 49 times for 324 yards (6.6 YPC) and he has his newfound patience to thank for that. Early on, Taylor wasn’t letting plays develop, barreling forward at full speed only to get stuffed and tackled right at the point of attack.
As a result, the 21-year-old stud is averaging a whopping 4.29 yards before contact over the last month, which is better than every running back in the league (including Derrick Henry). In fact, just three players have better averages in that regard during that span — and they’re all quarterbacks. It’s safe to say we don’t need Taylor gashing the defense repeatedly the same way Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Taysom Hill intend to when they sprint from the pocket.
As evidenced by his countless highlight reel truck sticks and stiff arms, Taylor obviously still runs harder than most RBs. However, he’s doing so more intelligently now, letting his offensive line impose their will before he hits the hole with the intent of bulldozing through anybody who gets in his way.
Don’t get it twisted, folks: Taylor is just as essential to the Colts’ success as any player on either side of the ball. Like we said earlier, it isn’t a coincidence that they started playing their best football as soon as he started finding momentum.