Colts: Frank Reich is still somehow underutilizing Jonathan Taylor
By Mike Luciano
The Indianapolis Colts received minimal resistance from the New York Jets in their Thursday Night domination, as Jonathan Taylor ran right through a Jets defense that gave up 45 points just weeks after surrendering 54 points. Taylor is starting to prove that he’s one of the unquestioned best backs in the game.
Even though Taylor only ran the ball 18 times after an injury scare, he amassed 172 yards rushing with two touchdowns. While Taylor is only on pace to touch the ball slightly over 300 times this season, he is still on pace to lead the league in yards from scrimmage. With Derrick Henry injured, he might challenge for the rushing title this season.
Despite that, there have been only two games this year in which he’s topped 20 touches from scrimmage and only one game in which he played more than 70% of the offensive snaps. For an offensive coach, Frank Reich seems incapable of leaning on Taylor for large chunks of the game.
While the Jets might not be the best measuring stick for an offense to compare themselves against, Taylor still became the first Colt since Marshall Faulk in 1995 to run for 170 yards on fewer than 20 carries. From this game forward, any game plan that doesn’t involve Taylor getting at least 20 runs needs to be scrapped.
The Colts need to lean on Jonathan Taylor.
In the last six games, Taylor has run for 650 yards on an insane 6.6 yards per carry while chipping in 223 receiving yards. If you extrapolate those numbers out to 17 games, Taylor would be averaging over 2,400 yards from scrimmage! So why is he getting 18 rushes every game?
While Carson Wentz hasn’t necessarily done anything to warrant having the ball taken out of their hands, and Reich needs to keep both Michael Pittman Jr. and Nyheim Hines happy, the fact of the matter is that Taylor is a Pro Bowl lock this season, and any offensive approach that features him splitting snaps with Hines needs to be rethought.
Taylor tested as an elite athlete in college with production at Wisconsin that looks like something out of a video game. Reich and Chris Ballard should feel lucky that one of the best skill-position players in the game fell right into their lap in the second round.
Wentz might be the bigger name, and a former quarterback in Reich might like to pass the ball as much as he can, but the Colts need to realize that Taylor has to be the focal point of this offense. With Wentz’s penchant for poorly-timed turnovers, Indy should ride the hot hand and feed No. 28 as many touches as he can handle.