During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Indianapolis Colts starting veteran quarterback Matt Ryan didn’t hold back in his high praise for his new partner-in-crime in the backfield, NFL First-Team All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor:
“He’s a beast,” Ryan said nonchalantly on Tuesday. “He’s an absolute beast.”
“We played Buffalo when I was in Atlanta last year, we played Buffalo late in the season. And so getting ready for them, we watched one of the games where Indy had played against them. And I was like, ‘Man, they ran the ball pretty good.’ You know, against a good defense. So let me pop on, just one (more game), to see what they’re doing maybe on offense because middle of the season, ‘We’re rolling, right?’ You guys were rolling here.”
“So, I got a chance to take a peek at what he did last year, and he’s special. You know I really think he’s special. I think he runs the ball extremely well. He’s got great vision. You know, great balance. Good speed. Good power. Catches the ball well out of the backfield. Willing in pass protection.”
“You know I had lunch with Quenton (Nelson) and Ryan Kelly today, and they talk about how he’s willing and smart in pass protection. I’ve been around a long time, you don’t get backs that do all of that very often, and when they do, they’re game changers. So, I’m fired up to play with him. I really am. Sent him that text message yesterday, and said I can’t wait to get the chance and opportunity to play with him.”
Of course, Ryan caught Taylor’s best game of the season against the Buffalo Bills in Week 11, when he ran for 185 rushing yards on 32 carries (5.8 ypc. avg.) and 4 rushing touchdowns, as well as had 3 receptions for 19 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.
Taylor’s monstrous 2nd-year campaign for the Colts, which he had the ‘Triple Crown’ at running back—leading the league in carries (332), rushing yards (1,811), and rushing touchdowns (18), as a legitimate NFL Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP candidate (until Indy’s surprising late season collapse) should be a breath of fresh air for Ryan—if JT can maintain even a remotely similar level of such high production in 2022.
For perspective, Ryan’s leading rushers the past three seasons (2019-2021) with the Falcons:
- 2021- Cordarelle Patterson: 618 total rushing yards
- 2020- Todd Gurley II: 678 total rushing yards
- 2019- Devonta Freeman: 656 total rushing yards
Clearly, the reigning First-Team All-Pro, Taylor, can be a stark contrast to the underwhelming ground games that Ryan has relied upon in his recent past with the Falcons.
Taylor’s a bonafide bellcow, a true workhorse, every down back, and Ryan can heavily lean upon him in what should still be a Colts offense that plays off of power running the football first and foremost—and rightfully should, at Ryan’s advanced football age.
The hope though is that unlike his Colts starting quarterback predecessor, Ryan will ‘take the layups’ and hit the easy checkdowns to Taylor (as well as Nyheim Hines) for productive yards to help consistently move the sticks and sustain long-scoring drives.
Taylor is a special talent—a ‘beast’, who should only help Ryan’s transition and overall success in Indianapolis, as the best player and clear catalyst of the Colts offense.