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Colts Rookie Report: Week 17 vs. Jaguars

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

OFFENSE

There really is very little that can be written that will do Jonathan Taylor any justice for his performance on Sunday. We’ll start by repeating the stat line: 30 carries for 253 yards and two rushing touchdowns. In the Jaguars game, Taylor joined Hall of Fame running backs Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk as the only Colts rookies to surpass 1000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season. His 253 rushing yards set a franchise record, against the likes of James, Faulk, and Eric Dickerson (also in the Hall of Fame) who have all carried the rock in a Colts uniform.

If not for Taylor, the Colts’ offense wouldn’t have done much to garner excitement. Philip Rivers didn’t have a particularly productive day, with under 200 total passing yards, and none of the Colts receivers did anything noteworthy. In fact, it is worth repeating that the leading receiver on the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards was Taylor’s backfield mate Nyheim Hines.

These things indicate that Michael Pittman Jr. played only a minor role. He caught both of his targets for 28 total receiving yards and carried the ball once for another two yards. While Pittman has shown flashes this season of having the talent to take on a prominent role in the offense, the offensive inconsistency in the later stages of the season and the renewed focus on running the ball behind a surging Taylor have limited his opportunities.


DEFENSE

Julian Blackmon scratched and clawed his way back up the stat sheet without Khari Willis on the field. His five tackles tied for third on the team and he added a tackle for loss. He remains quiet in coverage and hasn’t been in on a big game-turning interception or pass breakup recently but he still is getting all of the opportunities. He sees every defensive snap, no matter who the Colts are facing, and remains one of the biggest surprises from this draft class. Not so much because there were doubts he’d become a starter but more because no one anticipated he would return from an ACL injury so quickly, nor in such an impactful way.


SPECIAL TEAMS

With Isaiah Rodgers rarely getting the opportunity to return kickoffs anymore, only kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and special teams ace Jordan Glasgow have a weekly role to play on special teams. Glasgow has been fairly quiet recently, including missed time in the COVID-19 restriction process.

Blankenship has amassed a very successful rookie season, hitting 32 of 37 field goal attempts, good for 86.5% on the season. He broke the Colts’ franchise rookie scoring record and has given Colts fans a reason to feel more relaxed after Adam Vinatieri struggled so heavily in 2019.

The big concern that remains for Blankenship is leg strength. Inside of 45-yards, he appears to be nearly automatic. Outside of 45-yards and things get rather dicey. He has missed multiple long field goal tries this year by either failing to reach the crossbars or bouncing off of them. In fact, he has only hit one of three attempts from 50+ yards.

No offense wants to rely on kicking 50+ yard field goals to win football games but games in the NFL are often very close and field goal attempts to win, including from distance, are certainly not uncommon. Blankenship will need to spend the coming offseason working on developing his leg strength and accuracy outside of 45+ yards or it could shorten his promising young career.