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Right now, no one really knows if All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor will suit up for the Colts again. 

Sure, Indianapolis holds all of the leverage. Taylor still has a year left on his rookie deal, and if he remains on PUP, or if the Colts move him to the NIL list, they can withhold his salary. For Taylor, who is due $4.3 million this year, losing out on that money may not be an option. 

With the situation still in flux, it’s worth looking back on new Colts head coach Shane Steichen’s history with running backs since he started running offenses in 2019 with the Chargers. After all, the Colts may be less inclined to pay Taylor if they believe they can get similar results with less expensive players.  

On October 30th, 2019, Steichen was promoted to interim offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers after the team had fired Ken Whisenhunt. In his first game in the role, against the Green Bay Packers, the Chargers rushed for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns on the combined efforts of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. 

Over the remaining 8 games, the Chargers would rush for 897 yards on 206 attempts for an average of 4.35 yards per carry and 112.13 yards per game, and 8 touchdowns. That was a notable improvement from the first 8 games of the season, which saw them rush for 556 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gordon led the way for the team with 612 yards and 8 touchdowns on the year, followed by Ekeler with 557 yards and 3 touchdowns. Justin Jackson would also add 200 yards on the ground as well, leaving the Chargers with a total of 1,453 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for the season. 

2020 would be Steichen’s first full year as an offensive coordinator, and he continued to show he knows how to run the ball. Across 16 games, the Chargers finished with 1,784 yards rushing on 466 attempts, for an average of 3.8 yards per carry and 111.5 yards per game, and a total of 12 touchdowns. This season saw the Chargers employ a “running back by committee” approach; 5 players finished the year with over 200 yards on the ground. Ekeler would lead the group with 530 yards and 1 touchdown. Quarterback Justin Herbert, who took over for the immobile Phillip Rivers, led the team in rushing touchdowns, finishing with 5 to go with 234 yards.  

2021 would see Steichen join former Colts OC Nick Sirianni in Philidelphia as his offensive coordinator, where Sirianni would initially call plays. This would change about midway through the season, when Sirianni ceded play-calling duties to Steichen. From Week 6 on, the Eagles would finish with at least 100 yards rushing in every game. They would go over 200 yards on the ground 5 times that season, all after Week 8, when Steichen presumably had taken over. The team would finish 2021 with 2,715 yards rushing on 550 attempts, for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 159.71 yards per game, and 25 touchdowns. Quarterback Jalen Hurts would lead the Eagles on the ground with 784 yards and 10 touchdowns, followed by running back Miles Sanders, who ended with 754 yards. Boston Scott would also contribute 7 touchdowns to go with 373 yards. 

2022, Steichen’s final with the Eagles, would see him call plays for the entirety of the year. Hurts would have a breakout season, and the Eagles would make a Super Bowl appearance. The running game proved just as, if not more potent during this season, as the Eagles finished with 2,509 yards on 544 attempts, for an average of 4.6 yards per carry and 147.59 yards per game, and an eye popping 32 touchdowns. Miles Sanders would be the leading rusher, with 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns, with Jalen Hurts providing 760 yards and 13 touchdowns of his own.  

Overall, since Steichen became a full-time offensive coordinator midway through the 2019 season, his offenses have accumulated 7,509 yards rushing on 1,766 carries, for an average of 4.25 yards per carry, and 77 touchdowns. 

His final season with the Eagles can give us the biggest insight into what his offense might look like with the Colts. Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson has a similar skill set to Jalen Hurts, even if Hurts had much more game experience entering the league. The thought of pairing Taylor with the extremely athletic Richardson, in Steichen’s RPO-heavy offense, is an enticing combination for any Colts fan.  

Obviously, the Colts would like to see Taylor play this year. There is no denying his playmaking ability, and before all this drama began, he was seen as the ideal teammate and player. That being said, if the relationship between the Colts and Taylor continues to deteriorate, and the Colts decide to simply wash their hands of the situation and trade him, Colts fans may not have need to stress. Steichen has proven that he has the ability to gameplan for the running game, even when working with players that aren’t the same caliber of runner that Taylor is.  

During Wednesday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to Kevin Bowen from the morning show Kevin & Query about the Colts and Jonathan Taylor. Listen to that conversation and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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