PFF ranks Indianapolis Colts' RB unit top 10 in the NFL

pff ranks indianapolis colts' rb unit top 10 in the nfl

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Led by Jonathan Taylor, Pro Football Focus believes that the Indianapolis Colts have a top-10 running back unit in the NFL this season.

On PFF's list, the Colts running back group came in at No. 7 on their rankings. The top five included San Francisco at No. 1, followed by Miami, Detroit, Baltimore, and Atlanta.

Admittedly, PFF would note that there are questions around the depth of this unit but mention that "Taylor's potential" is enough to make this one of the better units in football.

In just his second NFL season, Taylor would lead the league in rushing in 2021, totaling 1,811 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, which were also the most that season. However, since then, he has dealt with injuries, playing in only 21 total games over the last two seasons.

GM Chris Ballard expects Taylor to have a "really big year" in 2024. Taylor entered the offseason fully healthy - and with his contract situation taken care of - putting him well ahead of where he was this time last year, which resulted in Taylor playing catch-up for most of the season.

"That's always tough too because now you're trying to repair after every game, said Taylor about being injured early last season. "And when you're coming in fresh then it's just a matter of maintaining rather than getting back, maintaining, putting yourself back together every single week. So it's tough. You know it's a violent game."

In 10 games last season, Taylor averaged 4.4 yards per rush and scored seven touchdowns. He would cap off the season with 188 rushing yards in Week 18 against Houston.

Due to Taylor missing time early on and Anthony Richardson's rookie season being cut short, the two were only on the field for two snaps together in 2023. Now with both players healthy, the duo should form a very formidable duo in Shane Steichen's RPO-heavy offense--an added stressor that opposing defenses will have to contend with.

“To have Anthony and JT back there,” said offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, “JT has an extensive history with a lot of success, leading the league in rushing. Now we’ve got Anthony, where a defense, gosh, there may be that mesh on a run play and it’s JT going left and it’s Anthony going right, and as a defense, how do you defend that?

“You have two really explosive players that maybe have a chance to end up with the ball on a run play, how do you defend all that? It is exciting.”

Competing for the backup running back role that is vacant after Zack Moss signed with Cincinnati is Trey Sermon, Evan Hull, and Tyler Goodson. This is a relatively inexperienced trio, with the three players combining for just 92 carries - 78 of which belong to Sermon - and 20 targets in the passing game.

The Colts, however, are bullish about their depth. They could have added to the competition through the draft but chose to stand pat.

“We got some young guys that came in, and Trey (Sermon) did a really good job when he came in and played for us last year,” said Ballard. “So we got some guys on the roster that we like. We get (Evan) Hull back. Hull’s healthy, we get him back, so we get to see what he can do and he showed us some good signs last year.”

Taylor has shown that he can handle a heavy workload, but the backup running back has become increasingly important across the NFL with many teams mindful of the number of carries they put on their lead back.

A strong run game can be a young quarterback's best friend. Success on the ground means staying ahead of the sticks and out of predictable passing situations, which sets up play-action and opens up the playbook for Shane Steichen.

This article originally appeared on Colts Wire: PFF ranks Indianapolis Colts' RB unit top 10 in the NFL

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