In Pro Football Focus’ latest rankings, they’ve slotted the Colts’ running back group at second overall. This comes as no surprise, given the amount of talent in the team’s backfield.
Second-year back Jonathan Taylor is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,169 yards, found the end zone 11 total times and averaged 5.0 YPC. Additionally, Indy also brought back Marlon Mack on a team-friendly, one-year deal. After tearing his Achilles in the 2020 season-opener, the fourth-year back is looking to rebound and play a significant role within the offense.
When healthy, we know how crucial of a role Mack has played. During his 2018 and 2019 campaigns, the star back rushed for a total of nearly 2,000 yards and found the end zone 16 times during each of those seasons as well. It’ll certainly take some time, but if Mack can properly rebound from the Achilles injury, I see no reason why he won’t play a pivotal role for the team in 2021.
While Mack may not be as explosive as Taylor, he’ll certainly help bring a different element to the offense. With Taylor likely to receive a majority of the carries, Mack provides the Colts with a fresh pair of legs on certain downs and distances. Additionally, opposing defenses now have to prepare for not one but two star running backs, both of whom provide a threat in the running and passing game.
I haven’t even mentioned #21 yet. We saw his production rise a bit in rushing last season. Hines rushed for 380 yards on 4.3 YPC and had 3 rushing touchdowns. Where the fourth-year back is truly dangerous, though, is in the passing game. Hines caught an impressive 82.9% of his targets last season for a total of 482 yards and scored 4 touchdowns through the air, too, per pro football reference.
He might not be as big in terms of size, but Hines is a an explosive player with the ball in his hands. With his increase in overall production, I’d certainly expect Hines to play an even more significant role for the upcoming season.
Indy has not just one, not two, but three running backs who can beat opposing defenses in a multitude of ways. If you combine that with perhaps the league’s best offensive line paving the way for the trio, the 2021 Colts’ running back group won’t just keep defensive coordinators awake at night, but their entire offense could be one of the NFL’s best this season as well.