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Colts Rookie Report: Week 16 at Steelers

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

OFFENSE

Jonathan Taylor continues to lead the way for the Colts offense. He carried the ball 18 times for 74 yards and two rushing touchdowns but was targeted only once in the passing game. His first half was highly productive, including both of his touchdowns, and featured his physicality. The Colts haven’t had a running back with Taylor’s strength at contact and through the hole since pre-injury Edgerrin James.

The biggest debated question since the monumental second-half letdown in Pittsburgh is whether Frank Reich as the offensive game plan got away from Taylor too much in the second half. Reich suggests that he doesn’t feel the offense needs to run more in the second half and our own Zach Hicks has reached the same conclusion. Even accepting that perspective, getting the ball into your best playmaker's hands is a coach’s responsibility and Taylor’s absence following the first drive of the second half was notable.

Michael Pittman Jr. brought in three of his five targets for 38 yards. Pittman has been targeted on deep throws that are reminiscent of his time at USC but has not yet connected. Where he has done his best work is on short crossing patterns and when Philip Rivers can identify he is isolated one-on-one.


DEFENSE

Julian Blackmon’s in-game impact continues to wane as the season progresses. At one point, Blackmon was making at least one impact play per game. He managed only two total tackles in this one and was not a factor in the passing game. It will take some film review to determine what is going on with Blackmon, as there’s every possibility that he’s getting the same kind of respect Malik Hooker started getting on the backend. If quarterbacks are throwing away from Blackmon, the explanation for his relative disappearance could be found at other positions in the secondary.


SPECIAL TEAMS

When Isaiah Rodgers is not fielding kickoffs, only Rodrigo Blankenship and Jordan Glasgow remain as rookie special teamers. Glasgow did not register a special teams tackle this week. Blankenship, however, did put together another perfect day by hitting all three extra-point attempts and his lone field goal try. While it is often easy to overlook kickers and punters, the Colts are strong at both positions and that makes it easy to focus more time on improving at others.