Throughout this series I will outline what my best, middle, and worst case scenario is for each position group in the Colts. Now covering running back.
(Disclaimer: injury is always the absolute worst case scenario, so we will talk about worst case assuming the players remain healthy for the sake of the article)
Best Case: Taylor puts up an MVP caliber season, Hines steps ups as the receiving back
Jonathan Taylor was the best running back, and one of the most dangerous offensive weapons, in the entire NFL last season, getting over 2.000 scrimmage yards and racking up 20 scores. I can go on and on about just how good Taylor is when playing at full strength, as I don’t think defenses can prepare to go up against a player like him. He is like Derrick Henry in that you cannot stop him, you can just pray you are able to contain him. Now with Matt Ryan in at quarterback, and hopefully a healthy season for the offensive line, Taylor can possibly put up an even better season, which would probably crown him as the MVP. Hines was criminally underused last season, seeing an almost 33% decrease in his touches, even though his yards per touch went up, and he posted his best season both in YPC and YPR. Matt Ryan is way better at getting running backs involved in the passing game than Wentz, and we have already seen a bit of Hines in the slot this training camp, so a season with over 200 touches maintaning that same sort of efficiency would be the best case scenario for him.
Middle Scenario: Taylor is still effective, but does not get as many touches. Hines continues playing a complimentary role with some sparks here and there.
This would most certainly not be a bad scenario by any means, and it could be even better than the best scenario down the stretch. The NFL has inarguably become a passing league, so with Matt Ryan at quarterback it would be fairly reasonable to expect the Colts to pass the ball more. To do that, Taylor will most likely not get 372 touches again this year. The Colts have to be monitoring the amount of touches Taylor gets, and if they are planning on giving him that second contract then you might as well start looking over his usage right now. As for Hines, the middle scenario would be failing to step up as a dynamic playmaker, instead settling for a complimentary roll, getting something between 125-175 touches.
Worst Case: Defenses manage to solve how to contain JT. Hines fails to make a consistent impact as a receiving back.
The worst case scenario for the Colts seems like an out of reach situation. In order for defenses to manage to contain JT defenses will probably need to put 8+ defenders in the box, and in order to do that it would mean that opposing defenses have figured out the passing offense, otherwise, I would bet the house that opposing teams will not be able to even contain Taylor consistently stacking 7 defenders in the box. Hines failing to make a consistent impact seems a bit more realistic, but I trust Reich to get him some good looks, and I really trust Matt Ryan to get him the ball in those situations.