After a sluggish start to the year, the Indianapolis Colts ended up with one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the league last season.
The emergence of Jonathan Taylor played a monster role in their turnaround, as he totaled 1,169 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on a respectable 5.0 yards per carry, much of it coming during the season’s second half.
Though he might not replicate those numbers as a sophomore, we’re fully expecting him to be more efficient.
After all, the Colts re-signed Marlon Mack to a one-year deal this offseason, meaning fans will finally have the luxury of witnessing the three-headed backfield of Taylor, Mack and dynamic pass-catching specialist Nyheim Hines.
Unfortunately for fans in Indy, however, rostering three incredibly gifted RBs wasn’t enough to stop former center Jeff Saturday from saying he’d prefer the Titans’ backfield.
As a player who spent 13 of his 14 seasons in the NFL with the Colts, watching this clip was the opposite of fun.
Former Colts center Jeff Saturday picking the Titans’ RB room over Indy’s didn’t feel great.
In all honestly, you really can’t fault Saturday for siding with Derrick Henry, who’s been the league’s rushing leader in each of the last two seasons. During that span, the former second-round pick has logged 681 carries for 3,567 yards and 33 touchdowns, each of which lead all qualified running backs.
To put Henry’s dominance into further perspective, his 5.25 yards per carry over the last two campaigns ranks second only to Nick Chubb, which says a lot when you consider that he’s averaged an impossible 340.5 rushes over that time slot.
Henry has obviously asserted himself as the best RB in the league, but there’s an argument to be had for the Colts’ backfield in that they have three viable options and Saturday, for one reason or another, failed to point it out.
We’ve seen games in which defenses prioritized stymieing Henry — look no further than the Wild Card matchup vs Baltimore — and the Titans’ offense was rendered useless as a result. There isn’t a fall back option they can turn to if Henry isn’t cooking, and therein lies the difference.
When it comes to Indianapolis, opponents will have a tougher time preparing to stop the run, as Taylor, Mack and Hines all bring different skills to the table. Taylor is a bruising back that welcomes contact at the line of scrimmage, whereas Mack is patient and lets his offensive line create holes. Hines would prefer to bounce it outside and let his elusiveness take over.
That isn’t to say that teams should prefer facing Henry, as coming up against him in the open field almost always results in a defender getting stiff-armed into middle earth. However, we wouldn’t be quick to dismiss the Colts’ rushing attack in terms of challenging Henry and the Titans as the most productive unit in the league in 2021.