For my first adventure into the film grinding world, I decided it was only appropriate to watch my favorite rookie this year Jonathan Taylor. He had the college pedigree, the size, the speed, the athleticism. He had it all. I was excited to see him break a big run in week 1 against the Jags. He was going to take the league by storm playing behind the massive amount of beef in that Colts offensive line. I was ecstatic to see him transition to the NFL.
Alas, he has disappointed to this point. He has not met the lofty expectations that I had for him. Thats not to say he hasn't been valuable for his team or fantasy managers, but he has not been the RB1 we though the would be. Before the Monday doubleheaders, he sits as the RB14 of the year. Not bad, but definitely not the league winning stud we had him pegged for.
So what is happening? For one, I believe that the lack of a preseason and proper training camp has led to some difficulty transitoning to the pace of play at the NFL level. To me, it seems like he isn't being patient with his blocks. Oftentimes, he plays too fast and doesn't see the cutback lane.
Against the Browns you can see the cutback open up, but by the time he sees it he's already on his lineman's back. instead of having a huge gain with his speed, he settle for the minimum yardage created by his line. The encouraging thing is he seems to be getting better at reading the cut back.
This is my absolute favorite run from this weeks matchup against the Bengals. This play felt like it was going to be the same thing as last week. JT could have followed his line and just settled for the minimum yardage of 2-3 yards. Instead, he hits the cutback lane and maximizes the yardage to a 7 yard gain.
Another issue I have been seeing is the lack of broken tackles. One thing that his rookie counterpart Clyde Edwards-Helaire has no problem with is elusiveness. In order for JT to unlock his potential, he is going to need to make second level defenders miss in the open field.
In this clip from week 1, we see that if he makes the defender miss its a big gain. He cuts it back and gets in the open field for a one on one with the corner. JT makes a little stutter move and then....nothing. Henderson makes the tackle and saves a big run.
An encouraging thing to look at was his usage in the passing game. Coming out of college, one of the knocks in his game was his lack of receptions. Last week he had 3 targets and converted 2 of them into receptions. This week he went 4 for 4 for 55 yards. I'll be happy wth 3-4 targets a game for JT, I expect the Colts to keep using him in the open field like the clip above.
Although things have started slow for my rookie RB1, I do think that things will begin to pick up. Especially after the bye week this week for Indy. Jonathan Taylor is an athletic freak, its only a matter of time. The last four weeks he is averaging over 4.0 yards per carry and looks to be adjusting and gaining confidence at the next level. Trade for him if you don't have him. Enjoy him if you do because I think we are going to see more celebrations like this one in the coming weeks.