The Indianapolis Colts should be able to find a better use for the versatile running back, Nyheim Hines, next season.
Last season, the offense for the Indianapolis Colts was all about Jonathan Taylor. In his second year, Taylor emerged as the best running back in the NFL while running to several records.
While the emergence of Taylor was great, his increased role contributed to less involvement of Nyheim Hines in the Indianapolis offense.
In 2020, Taylor’s rookie season, Hines had his best season as a pro. He carried the ball 89 times for 380 yards and three touchdowns while catching 63 passes for 482 yards and four touchdowns.
In 2021, those numbers dropped for Hines to 56 carries for 276 yards and two touchdowns with 40 receptions for 310 yards and one additional touchdown.
Hines also went from playing 36% of the Colts’ offensive snap counts in 2020 to 32% in 2021.
This decline in production and usage can be attributed to multiple factors. One is Taylor’s emergence, another being the different play styles between Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz, and the final factor being Frank Reich’s play-calling.
During Chris Ballard’s press conference at the NFL Combine, he admitted that Indy needs to get Hines more involved and expressed, “when he is involved more, we usually do really well offensively.”
That’s a message the team needs to remember as the season approaches because this Indianapolis offense can use more of Hines.
Colts have to get Nyheim Hines more involved
The addition of Matt Ryan alone should help Indianapolis with helping Hines to become more of a factor in the offense. Ryan has a history of connecting with pass-catching running backs, similar to Rivers, so that should involve Hines more.
Another way the Colts can manufacture production for Hines is using him more in the slot. Jonathan Taylor is a unique player that you want on the field as much as possible, so it’s understandable if Indy doesn’t want to bring him out to put Hines in.
The solution to that is putting Hines on the field at the slot position. As things currently stand, Indianapolis doesn’t have a deep receiver room, so Hines won’t be taking snaps away from any super talented receivers.
This will allow Hines to be more involved, putting his versatility to use, and it will also open the door for the Colts to get into more creative plays offensively.
Indy did explore some of this two-back system last season and was able to have success with it. During the offseason, the Colts should focus on developing this package.
By doing that, Indy not only gets one of its most-talented playmakers involved but it also helps to address the problem the team has at wide receiver.
Hines may not be a full-time receiver but he has the skills to put up production for a team that is struggling through the air. The Colts must make sure Hines is being involved in the plans to grow this offense.