INDIANAPOLIS — The hype train has left the station.
Jonathan Taylor’s five-touchdown performance against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday has placed the Indianapolis Colts running back squarely on the national radar. Even in a league dominated by quarterbacks for decades, the second-year superstar is beginning to gain serious traction as an MVP candidate.
He leads the NFL with 1,122 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He’s had eight straight games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown, and he’s been close to unstoppable over the last three weeks with 72 carries for 473 yards and eight total touchdowns.
“It’s important to the other guys, and that’s an indication that you have the right kind of team,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said of Taylor’s incredible hot streak. “Like, you hear the other guys like (Michael) Pittman Jr. talking about, ‘Hey, we need to be talking about JT for MVP and the stuff that he’s doing.’ One other time I can remember being around something like this is in ’97 when I was playing for the Detroit Lions and Barry Sanders was on our team and he got 2,000 yards.
“It was important to the whole team that Barry got 2,000 yards, and it wasn’t just an individual accomplishment. So with what Jonathan is doing this year – and much like Barry Sanders – how humble Jonathan is, it even more magnifies how much more everybody else wants it. So that’s just a good thing for our team.”
Taylor has made it clear winning is the only thing that matters.
He’s been on the field for more than 80% of the offensive snaps in each of the past two weeks after topping 70% just once in the first nine games. But it’s not just about what he’s doing on the ground.
Taylor has been roundly praised by teammates for his improvement in pass protection this season, and he’s tied for second on the team with 32 receptions. He’s become a complete running back who never needs to be taken off the field in any situation.
“I mean, the film speaks for itself,” Indianapolis linebacker Zaire Franklin said of Taylor’s MVP candidacy. “I mean, there’s only so much I can say. JT is a monster. He’s a man amongst boys. … Every time he touches the ball, whether it’s a screen, swing, inside or outside – no matter what it is – he’s liable to take it the distance. Obviously, he’s the engine that drives our team. I’m just so happy for him, proud of him.”
Tight end Jack Doyle sits in the offensive meeting room each week and listens to running backs coach Scottie Montgomery read off Taylor’s latest accomplishments. He’s setting franchise records and being mentioned in the same breath as Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.
It’s incredibly heady stuff, but the star rusher remains the same level-headed workaholic no matter how much praise comes his way.
“He’s awesome,” Doyle said. “He’s the ultimate teammate, he’s the ultimate team player and Frank was giving the game ball yesterday in the locker room and he’s got to give a speech about it, and all he’s talking about is how we did it together, how we’re doing this together. We’re playing as one unit – offense, defense and special teams. That’s just who Jonathan is.
“When you have a teammate like that who’s one of the best players in the NFL, there’s nothing better than playing with him and being a teammate. And everyone just loves JT.”
THEY SAID IT
“I was surprised when I saw the replay — when I saw it on tape today — not just how low it was but how late it was. I’m not going to comment on whether I think he should have been ejected or not. It’s sometimes hard as a player, I get that. We’ve all seen it. I’m not going to – I don’t want to impute motives, but I’m glad (Carson Wentz is) all right. It was definitely a penalty for sure. It was low, and it was late. There’s no place in the game for stuff like that. I’m not imputing motives to him. I sure hope it wasn’t malicious. I probably think it wasn’t but certainly not the kind of thing we want in our game.” – Reich on the late-hit penalty against Buffalo defensive end Mario Addison in the second quarter Sunday.
The Colts signed veteran cornerback Brian Poole to the practice squad Monday and re-signed cornerback Anthony Chesley to the practice squad. Corner BoPete Keyes was released from the practice squad.
Poole entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons and has played in 70 games with 38 starts over five seasons with the Falcons and New York Jets. He spent time this season with the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints but has not appeared in a game.
Poole has 294 career tackles with six sacks and seven interceptions.
The Colts will get one more prime time home game this season after all.
The New England Patriots game in Week 15 has been flexed to Dec. 18 and will kick off at 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network.
Indianapolis defeated the New York Jets 45-30 on Nov. 4 in its first home prime time game since 2017.