INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Taylor sounds more confident, as he should.
When you are an NFL running back and finish a season doing something no player at your position did in 2020, it’s ok to carry yourself with some swagger.
Publicly, that’s not Taylor though.
His humbleness is pretty admirable for a guy who has already tasted some college football stardom.
Is he approaching such status in the NFL?
While it’s probably a hair premature to pose such a question, just look at how Taylor finished last season.
7 straight games of at least 74 rushing yards.
That production, combined with that consistency, is something only Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott have reached in the last three seasons.
It’s why Chris Ballard calls the end to Taylor’s rookie season ‘unique.’
When you hear Taylor discuss his feelings entering Year Two in the NFL, the confidence is quite evident.
“It’s funny because I see it from the perspective of I now know the basics and what needs to be done,” Taylor says. “It’s now, ‘How can I make the job a little bit easier? How can I see the pre-snap and anticipate what’s going to happen?’ Don’t really bank on it, but anticipate that pre-snap read. Seeing what the defense is giving me and knowing our playbook and how we can make adjustments. It’s fun.
“It’s fun seeing the growth from just one year.”
That growth could be very intriguing if the Taylor seen to close out last season is something that can be strung together in the first half of the year, where he admittedly struggled a bit during in 2020.
Entering 2021, Taylor is the lead man in one of the most diverse backfields in the NFL.
“That running back room is special, not only as players, but as people,” Frank Reich says.
It’s the presence of Taylor at the top of that depth chart giving the Colts a chance of having a truly elite running back for the first time since Edgerrin James.
Taylor finished last season 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards. It was the first time a Colts player finished top-8 in rushing since James in 2005.
With Taylor now approaching his second NFL season, it’s pairing up that back half of his rookie campaign over the entire year on his mind.
“Just staying consistent,” Taylor says of what he learned from his first NFL season. “We didn’t have all this (spring) time last year so it was kind of learning at a super-accelerated pace at camp and learning on the go each game plan as we went through the season. So being able to get a great grasp on the playbook before the season starts so you can hit the ground running.”
If that happens, watch out NFL.