Here’s why Colts RB Jonathan Taylor should win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Indianapolis Colts squeaked into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth this past weekend, and it’s remarkable it took that much, considering the team went 8-3 to close the season and finished with one of the best overall records in the entire NFL.
What made Indy’s playoff surge so galvanizing for the fan base was how balanced the team looked — no individual player was credited for the push. From their multi-dimensional offensive approach to the defense’s bend-don’t-break fortitude, there was seemingly a different standout performer every week down the stretch.
However, as much as we hate to pin teammates against each other, we can all agree that running back Jonathan Taylor stood out among the rest. If not for him catching fire over the last five weeks, who knows if they even qualify for the postseason? Because of that, we are hereby staking his claim for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Barring any unforeseen developments, the award will come down to a three-horse race between Taylor, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. While the latter two players were objectively remarkable as rookies this year, their teams’ shortcomings should no doubt play a role in voting.
For those wondering, both the Chargers and Vikings finished 7-9. The last time we checked, a win-loss record is greatly determined by quarterback play. As jaw-dropping as Hebert looked at times, he ultimately wasn’t able to lead his teams to wins on a weekly basis. If not for a four-game winning streak to close the year, he very easily could’ve finished with one of the worst records in the NFL.
You might say the reigning No. 6 overall pick fell victim to abysmal coaching, but it says a lot about how far he has to go (in terms of closing out games) that his record-setting campaign ended with the Chargers not even sniffing the playoffs.
That isn’t to say Herbert isn’t already teetering on superstardom, but winning should be viewed in a similar light as statistics for this award and Taylor undeniably did more to help his team win than his running mate.
For starters, the 2020 second-round pick single-handedly helped Indy beat Jacksonville to give themselves a chance at qualifying for the playoffs, totaling a franchise record 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns. This came after he averaged 97.6 yards on 5.6 yards per carry in the previous five games.
The Colts finished 4-1 during that span and it proved to be massive in helping them establish favorable odds to get into the postseason. While Taylor wasn’t as consistent as Herbert for the entire campaign, his heroic performances down the stretch — which saw him finish third in the league in rushing yards (1,169) — prove he warrants serious consideration for the award.
Herbert will be fine. Does he really want a trophy memorializing his dull and often disastrous 7-9 campaign anyway?