Film study: Why Colts’ Jonathan Taylor is dominating the NFL run game

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick analyzes the game film to explain why Jonathan Taylor is dominating opponents.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is emerging as a legitimate superstar this season.

With the recent injury to Tennessee Titans workhorse Derrick Henry, Taylor has emerged from the shadow of his AFC South counterpart. Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,122), yards from scrimmage (1,444), rushing touchdowns (13) and longest run from scrimmage (83 yards). He’s also the first running back to reach 1,000-yard mark on the season.

Taylor currently averages 5.8 yards per carry and has over 100 total yards in eight consecutive games. Here are his numbers since Week 4:

Week Opponent Total yds. TDs
4 at Miami 114 1
5 at Baltimore 169 2
6 Houston 158 2
7 at San Francisco 110 1
8 Tennessee 122 1
9 N.Y. Jets 200 2
10 Jacksonville 126 1
11 at Buffalo 204 5

Taylor, a second-year pro who rushed for 6,174 yards during his collegiate career with the Wisconsin Badgers, also just set a Colts franchise record with five touchdowns in a blowout win over the Buffalo Bills.

Taylor is only 48 yards away from surpassing his rushing yardage total from his entire rookie season and two rushing first downs away from eclipsing his total from 2020.

When the Colts started the season 0-3, Taylor averaged only 57 rushing yards per game. Now 6-5 and in the midst of the AFC playoff chase, the Colts are on a three-game winning streak. In those past three games, Taylor has averaged 158 rushing yards.

What changed? His snaps. He is now the workhorse of the Colts offense.

Taylor had 32 carries and three receptions against Buffalo on Sunday, and he’s been on the field for more than 80% of the team’s offensive snaps each of the past two weeks.

Let’s examine some game film to learn why Taylor has been so effective.

Colts 41, Bills 15: That’s Scorigami

The Bills and Colts played to a 41-15 final. That’s Scorigami!

This isn’t a game the fans in Buffalo will want to remember. The Bills Mafia won’t be happy to remember a 26-point home loss on Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts.

Jonathan Taylor scored five touchdowns and Indianapolis rolled to a 41-15 victory.

There had been a number of Colts to score four times in a game but Taylor became the first to do it five times.

Something else that had never happened before in NFL history: a 41-15 final.

That’s right, the score is the 1,070th unique score in NFL history.

And as everyone knows, that’s Scorigami

Colts return blocked punt for touchdown against Jaguars

A blocked-punt TD has the Colts up double-digits on the Jaguars

The Indianapolis Colts are out of the gate fast against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Already up 3-0, special teams did the job for Indy as Zaire Franklin blocks the punt and E.J. Speed takes it in for a touchdown.

After the PAT, the Colts were up 10-0.

Great Baltimore Colts RB Tom Matte dies at 82

Great Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte died at age 82

Tom Matte played his entire 12-year NFL career with the Baltimore Colts. After football, he remained part of the Charm City.

On Tuesday, the city lost one of its beloved athletes and personalities as Matte died at the age of 82.

Matte rushed for 4,646 yards and scored 45 touchdowns. To some, he is best remembered for a game he didn’t play running back, exactly.


He is best remembered for his time at quarterback late in 1965, when the playoff-hopeful Colts lost both Johnny Unitas and his backup, Gary Cuozzo, to injuries on successive weeks. In went Mr. Matte, who hadn’t taken a snap since college. First, while wearing a wristband “cheat sheet” listing plays for a streamlined offense, he led Baltimore to a 20-17 upset of the Los Angeles Rams, rushing for 99 yards. Then, in a playoff for the Western Conference championship, Matte led the Colts (10-3-1) against the favored Green Bay Packers.

Teammates dubbed him “The Arm.” America took note. Walter Cronkite interviewed the “instant quarterback” on the CBS Evening News. Telegrams poured in.

Green Bay won, 13-10, in overtime. Mr. Matte completed five of 12 passes for 40 yards and rushed for 57 more.

“He didn’t botch a handoff or muff a signal all day,” Colts coach Don Shula said afterward.

Many paid tribute:


Colts’ Carson Wentz goes from goat to hero to goat

Carson Wentz was inconsistent against the Titans and it cost the Colts dearly

The Indianapolis Colts’ Sunday went like a Carson Wentz roller coaster.

And in the end, the quarterback’s provided more spills than thrills.

Wentz threw an awful interception late in the fourth quarter that turned into a pick-six for the Titans’ Elijah Molden.

Trailing 31-24, Wentz recovered and led a 75-yard drive that tied things and sent the AFC South foes to overtime.

However, it was the worst of Wentz in the extra session as he threw another pick. This one was snagged by Kevin Byard and set up Randy Bullock’s field goal that gave Tennessee a 34-31 victory.

The Titans are 6-2 and Wentz and the Colts fell to 3-5 and are in deep trouble when looking at the playoff picture.

Colts’ Carson Wentz with astonishingly awful Pick Six against Titans

Carson Wentz and his incredible bad decisions came to haunt the Colts on Halloween

The message had to be simple. Don’t take a sack for a safety, Carson Wentz, and whatever you do, don’t throw an interception.

In the waning moments of Sunday’s key game for Indy against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, Wentz did the unfathomable.

He looked like he was about to be taken down for a safety that would have given the Titans the lead.

Can’t let that happen, right?

So just fling the ball into a pile of players a couple of yards in front of you where Elijah Molden grabs the pass and saunters a couple of yards into the end zone to give Tennessee the lead, 31-24.

Wentz managed to find some form of redemption as he led the Colts to a touchdown on their next drive. It went 75 yards in five plays and was concluded by a Jonathan Taylor 1-yard run,

Colts’ Carson Wentz with beautiful TD pass to Parris Campbell

Carson Wentz to Parris Campbell and the Colts strike first

Carson Wentz may have found the tonic to get the Indianapolis Colts healthy: a game against the Houston Texans.

In a matchup of 1-4 teams, Wentz went deep to Parris Campbell late in the first quarter.

Watch as the lovely throw lands in the hands of the wide receiver for a touchdown that gave the Colts a 7-0 lead against the struggling Texans.

The play was good for 51 yards.

Replay review ruins Colts’ 98-yard return of Lamar Jackson fumble

The Colts thought they had a 98-yard touchdown return of a Lamar Jackson fumble … thought

The Indianapolis Colts hit Baltimore with a staggering shot in the third quarter Monday as it looked like the Colts were about to make it a game.

Lamar Jackson tried to run the ball into the end zone for a touchdown to cut into a 13-point deficit.

As Jackson went to the ground, he fumbled.

The ball was picked up by linebacker Darius Leonard, who headed toward the other end zone.

Leonard tried to lateral to Isaiah Rogers, who raced to the other end zone.

What seemed like a 98-yard fumble return was then put under review.

The fumble was close as Jackson’s knee appeared to hit the ground as he lost the ball.

However, the replay review said it was a fumble.

What wasn’t kosher as it turned out was Leonard to Rogers.

The replay booth ruled it was a forward pass, causing a 5-yard penalty on the Colts and bringing the ball back to the 19.

As an aside, in the last 4 years, Jackson has lost 3 fumbles at the 1-yard line, most in the league.

Mattered not, as the Colts went 81 yards on a touchdown drive and upped the lead to 22-3.

Carson Wentz hits Michael Pittman Jr. for pretty Colts touchdown

Carson Wentz found Michael Pittman Jr for a touchdown in the third quarter

The Indianapolis Colts came to life last week against the Miami Dolphins. They continue to show a resurgence against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

Carson Wentz looked for Michael Pittman Jr. in the third quarter with Indy up 10-3.

The former USC wideout made a wonderful catch, kept his balance, and made it to the end zone.

The flags on the play were for defensive pass interference on the play.

The PAT was missed and the Colts led 16-3 in a surprise to that point.

The Colts had gotten on the board early in the game when Wentz through a short pass Jonathan Taylor took a long way … 76 yards.

Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts to premiere in November

Frank Reich, Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts will be on the first in-season Hard Knocks

The NFL promised an announcement about “Hard Knocks” on Thursday at halftime of the New York Giants-Washington Football Team game.

And it delivered. The preseason classic is going to have its first in-season run.

“Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts” will debut on Nov. 17.

The Colts already have absorbed some hard knocks as quarterback Carson Wentz and star offensive lineman Quenton Nelson were hit with foot injuries and missed most of training camp.

Indianapolis was also handled easily in its season opener by the Seattle Seahawks. It plays against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.


The series will premiere Nov. 17 (10 p.m. ET) on HBO and streaming on HBO Max and figures to include plenty of behind-the-scenes focus on quarterback Carson Wentz, as he tries to resurrect his career after his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles to reunite with coach Frank Reich, and linebacker Darius Leonard, one of the game’s best defensive players. The Colts also have one of the most colorful and candid owners in sports in Jim Irsay.

“We could not be more thrilled to bring Hard Knocks and the remarkable behind-the-scenes access it provides for the entirety of an NFL season,” said Ross Ketover, NFL Films Senior Executive. “Thanks to HBO, along with the incredible cooperation from the Colts, we are able to deliver a groundbreaking new edition of the series.”