The Indianapolis Colts revamped their offense this offseason, including with the selections of Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the NFL Draft. Pittman was a needed pick for Indianapolis, but Taylor was more of a luxury — especially since the Colts already have a 1,000-yard rusher in Marlon Mack.
Heading into the final year of his contract, the Colts may have started the succession plan for the 24-year-old Mack. For 2020, Indianapolis is making sure Mack will be an even better running back with a lighter workload.
That’s where Taylor comes in.
“I think sometimes you do it by committee, but everybody has their emphasis,” said Colts head coach Frank Reich regarding having Mack and Taylor as the top two running backs, via ESPN’s Mike Wells. “With Jonathan into the mix, I really envision that it’ll be Jonathan and Marlon really being that one-two punch.
“When you look at good teams over the years, it’s a long season. It’s a grind, and when you run the ball as much as we run it, it’s really good to be able to change that up. I think their styles will really complement each other very well. Marlon has that great vision. He can run that outside zone well, he can surge, surge, surge and then he can accelerate in the hole.”
The Colts ran the ball 29.4 times per game in 2019, which was fourth-most in the NFL. Mack’s 247 carries ranked eighth in the league and the Colts called running plays 46.36% of the time, fifth-most in the NFL. With Taylor in the fold, Indianapolis can commit even more to the run — especially with a 38-year old quarterback in Philip Rivers. Limiting Rivers’ pass attempts is expected to make the offense more efficient (Rivers has a winning record in four consecutive seasons throwing 575 or fewer passes a year).
Taylor was arguably the nation’s best running back at the University of Wisconsin, rushing for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Badgers. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
The Colts want to make their running game more explosive in 2020 and Taylor is the ticket toward accessing that potential.
“Jonathan Taylor is an explosive player,” Reich said. “That size and 4.3 [40-yard dash] speed — we want to turn those 10-yard gains into 50- and 60-yard gains. Now both he and Marlon can add that element to our offense.”