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Feed the Beast: Colts Not Concerned with Breakout Star RB Jonathan Taylor’s Heavy Workload Down Stretch

The Colts aren’t going to shy away from giving NFL MVP darkhorse Jonathan Taylor carries down the stretch run—and for good reason.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

According to their head coach Frank Reich, the Indianapolis Colts are not concerned with breakout superstar running back’s Jonathan Taylor heavy workload down the late season’s stretch (via The Athletic’s Stephen Holder):

Some if it is because while Taylor has been a sheer workhorse as of late nearly dominating entirely the Colts backfield in total carries, that wasn’t always the case in 2021.

For the first 10 games of the 2021 campaign to start the season, Taylor was in more of a timeshare with electric scatback Nyheim Hines—splitting backfield reps for the Colts.

To put the comparison in perspective, through the first 10 games of the season, Taylor averaged 16.1 total carries per game. However, in the last 4 games of the season, he’s now averaging 27.25 total carries—and that number would be even higher, had the Colts not ran into (or avoided) a stout run-stuffing Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense in Week 12 (where Taylor saw his touches diminish again to only 16 carries, as the Colts didn’t want to consistently run through the teeth of the Tampa defense—electing to pass instead).

Despite a much lighter workload to begin the season, Taylor still leads the league in carries though, but it’s not by as many as you might think. His 270 total carries only lead the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Mixon (262 carries), second to only Taylor, by 8 carries.

Plus, for a prized Wisconsin running back who had 926 career carries with the Badgers over three seasons, he’s proven he can handle a heavy, heavy workload. Not to mention, Taylor keeps himself in tip top shape—practicing things like Yoga to keep himself in peak condition even outside the ordinary weight room and of course, leg day.

(He also just enjoyed a bye week two weeks ago in Week 14).

It’s worth noting that Tennessee Titans All-Pro rusher Derrick Henry led the league in carries last year with a whopping 378 total carries—and in one less regular season game than Taylor will potentially have at his disposal.

Let’s say Taylor averages 30 total carries per game for the next three games to close out the Colts regular season, that would still put him around 360 total carries and still short of Henry’s ridiculous workload in 2020—if that means anything at all.

Even still possible, the Colts could potentially have an AFC playoff spot locked up by the Week 18 regular season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12), who at that point may not have much to play for regardless except ensuring they get the #1 overall pick again. It’s quite possible the Colts could look to rest Taylor during that final game for the AFC playoffs—with a postseason berth already theirs in such an ideal scenario.

Either way, it appears that Taylor’s ability to ‘ease into the first half of the season’ has kept his legs fresher than most workhorse running backs would ordinarily be during the final stretch of an entire NFL campaign (which is often a grueling marathon)—and it’s not as though the serious NFL MVP candidate can’t handle a heavy, heavy workload regardless.

He’s only 22 years old.

He’s young and clearly rolling...

... and right now looks stronger than ever.

With no signs of slowing down.