Breakdown: Colts Backfield
The Indianapolis Colts have made it clear they will split the workload between Marlon Mack and second-round pick Jonathan Taylor this year, creating what could be one of the best “1-2” running back combinations in the game.
Taylor isn’t going to fret over splitting carries in his rookie season, a tradition he’s used to from his three years at the University of Wisconsin — even though he averaged 2,058 rushing yards a season.
“It’s not anything new to me,” Taylor said, via Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. “You don’t count the reps; you make the reps count. Whenever you’re in, you’re on – make sure you are 100 percent. Think about it, you are a professional now. When people are at their jobs – I know my mother is at her job and she likes to do everything correctly to a ‘T’ as perfect as possible.
“I’m taking the same approach here. I mean whenever my number is called I’m making sure I’m on at all times because it’s my job now.”
Taylor recorded 299 carries during his freshman season at Wisconsin, but the Badgers had 606 carries between non-quarterbacks and special teams players in that 2017 campaign — meaning Taylor had just 49.3% of the carries. In his sophomore season (2018), Taylor recorded 58% of the carries distributed to non-quarterbacks and special teamers and that increased to 59.8% in his junior year (2019). Taylor finished with 926 carries in his three years at Wisconsin, rushing for 6,124 yards and 50 touchdowns (6.7 yards per carry).
Splitting carries is nothing new for Taylor, especially since he will be sharing the reps in the Colts’ backfield with Mack, who rushed for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games for Indianapolis last season.
The Colts ran the ball 29.4 times per game in 2019, which was fourth most in the NFL. Mack’s 247 carries ranked eighth in the league and Indianapolis called running plays 46.36% of the time, fifth most in the league.
Indianapolis has shown it will commit to run based of those 2019 numbers, perhaps even more in 2020 with Taylor in the fold. They’ll make sure Taylor will get his chance to shine in the offense, no matter how many carries he receives.