INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Jonathan Taylor found out.
As the retreating rookie cut his timing, his confidence and productivity increased. Now Taylor is playing like the workhorse the Indianapolis Colts need during this season’s stretch run.
All it took was a little time to understand the differences between working with a shotgun formation and not the more conventional offense he played in in Wisconsin, and Taylor was gone and running.
“Your readings are a little faster in the shotgun,” said Taylor after hitting a season high of 150 meters and two points in the decisive win on Sunday in Las Vegas. “Different games require different timing, and that was one of the biggest things I had to learn to recognize the different timings you got off the gun for different things.”
The Colts (9-4) never doubted Taylor would reach that point. From the moment he got to training camp, Indy knew there was a gem behind Marlon Mack. But when Mack tore his right Achilles tendon at the season opener, Taylor inherited the starting job.
Initially, he showed flashes of his potential, but as the season wore off, Taylor’s persistence and touch waned. Three weeks ago, coach Frank Reich gave Taylor a fresh start. He didn’t disappoint.
The former Badgers star delivered a game with 22 transfers and 90 yards against Green Bay. Then Taylor had 13 carry places for 91 yards and three receptions for 44 yards and a TD in Houston. On Sunday, he swung the game with TD runs of 62 and 3 yards, holding Indy at the AFC South after three straight wins with Tennessee.
“He’s a worker and I think that’s why you keep improving him,” said Anthony Castonzo. “He understands. You can see it If he really understands and sees these holes he will be a force to be reckoned with. “
Taylor is already one of the most prolific rookie-backs in the franchise. In 13 games, he has 1,045 meters from the precipice and needs 241 meters to become the first Colts rookie to run for 1,000 since Joseph Addai in 2006.
And after watching the battle for the floor game for most of this season, Taylor has the Colts ready to show their final kick.
“We kept saying, ‘Folks, have patience, we’re getting better, we’re doing the little things right. We’re not reaping all the benefits now, we’re just sticking to it, ”said Reich. “We talked a lot about getting promoted at the right time. Jonathan is a big part of how he sees it and how he runs it. “
Creativity. Reich introduced the Jacoby Brissett packages a few weeks ago in low-range and third-range situations. It has helped in both areas. This week, Reich added an element: snapped the ball to run back to Nyheim Hines, who passed it off for Taylor’s second TD.
WHAT NEEDS HELP?
Defense in the first half. The Colts played better on Sunday than in previous weeks, but still gave up 14 points, 203 yards and three third-down conversions in the first 30 minutes.
CB Kenny Moore II. The lobbying for Moore to do the Pro Bowl started weeks ago and now the plays just keep coming. After ripping the ball away from a receiver for an interception in Houston, Moore forced a fumble and made a spectacular one-handed interception in the Las Vegas end zone.
WR Michael Pittman Jr. Yes, the Colts top draft pick has been getting more productive lately, but has been asked to make three false starts in the last two games.
Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard (back) and starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes (left knee) both left early Sunday. On Monday, Reich said he was optimistic that both could play next weekend. The bigger concern was bringing backup linebacker Jordan Glasgow home after being put on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Sunday. Reich said Glasgow flew home on a private charter, was home and doing fine. He also said there had been no other positive tests.
34 – Khari Willis’ first career touchdown came after a 50-yard interception return. It was Indianapolis’ fourth defensive touchdown of the season. Add in the four PATs and the Colts who have three collateral for a total of 34 defensive points this season.
Indy took a big step towards the playoffs with the win on Sunday. It’s one game before Miami and two before Las Vegas. With the home games against Houston and Jacksonville pending, the Colts have control of their postseason chances for now.