Game 11: Colts-Bills, Jonathan Taylor Superstar Edition

Anvil

Hi, it’s your (hopefully) favorite sports talker guy, Derek Schultz, here with a full complement of Indy Monthly #analysts, Nate Miller and Michael Rubino, to discuss Football Things! Unfortunately, I have to pause from looking up plane tickets to Los Angeles in early February to do this, but I want to be “””professional.”””

Anywho, the Colts delivered their biggest win of 2021, and perhaps their biggest since inexplicably beating Patrick Mahomes and the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs in 2019, by mercilessly bludgeoning the Bills, 41-15. Before we get to what this means for the actual team, can we talk about Jonathan Taylor’s not-so-unrealistic MVP hopes? Five tuds!!!

RUBINO: Let me be the first to congratulate CBS announcer Kevin Harlan on his adoption of Jonathan Taylor. 

Harlan was gushing over Taylor all day, and rightfully so. Every time Taylor touched the ball, it unlocked crescendo mode on Harlan, whose voice rose and quickened from the broadcast booth like he was describing a fighter pummeling his opponent in a corner. #Runthedamnball was trending on Twitter. Taylor had 32 carries (career record), 185 yards rushing, and (for those of you not familiar with tuds or tuddies) a franchise record five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving). As Nate has pointed out, it’s been a long time since we’ve had someone with juice like Taylor’s. And it all seemed to coalesce today. That was such a dominating performance on a pretty big stage. It felt like a coming out party. It was really fun to watch—and I don’t say that often about Colts games.

MILLER: Jonathan Taylor makes everything more fun. He’s a fun-accelerant. He’s a 227-pound Friday night with blazing speed and endless possibilities. That he’s also the best running back in football is pretty neat, too, I suppose—if such things matter to you. They don’t to me. I just like the super-rad football shit he does anytime he touches the ball. No need to complicate this.

RUBINO: The one thing I can’t figure out—and I think half of Indy is asking this question—is this: Did Frank Reich just figure that Taylor is the greatest thing in the Colts backfield since Edge or was he playing some kind of long game to keep him fresh for the back half of the season?

MILLER: It’s certainly not the second one. The “the back half of the season” part is all wrong. There will be no “back half of the season” for Taylor; I have already convinced myself that he will be in the wrong place at the wrong time and somehow end up getting his Achilles Pet Semetary’d by some stupid demon-kid at, like, La Hacienda. That’ll send him to the IR for sure, probably! Season over. 6-11 finish. Career derailed. Indicted on RICO charges. Gets into Ayn Rand in prison and so forth and so on. Any outcome even slightly less upsetting than that from here on out? GRAVY, you guys. Gravy. It’s called aiming low. I advise doing the same.

SCHULTZ: Aiming low is good and that’s definitely what I did with Jonathan Taylor’s hype when he was drafted and now I’m literally swimming in a swimming pool full of gravy the size of (Editor’s Note: TRIGGER WARNING!!!) Andrew Luck’s house. To be fair to Reich—full disclosure, I am an unabashed Frank Reich Homer—I saw some complaints about him not running in the opening drive of the second half today and six of those pass calls came on:

2nd & 15

3rd & 7

3rd & 8

1st & 20 (after a penalty)

2nd & 20

3rd & 20

Like, what do people want Reich (or Carson Wentz, for that matter) to call there? Given what they gave up for Wentz and how “good” everyone suggests he is (“but TD-INT ratio!”) shouldn’t they trust him to come through on plays from those down-and-distance? Taylor is second in the NFL in touches—which sounds creepy AF—but is a real stat! He gets the ball an acceptable amount. Does Reich sometimes get overly cute? Sure! Can he be over-aggressive? Absolutely! But, contrary to @RunDaDamnBall317’s belief, Taylor can’t get 400 carries per game. Reich rant side, Taylor is all caps SPECIAL and the Colts haven’t had a skill position player this dynamic since the pre-torn ACL 1999–2000 version Edgerrin James. 

RUBINO: Please don’t reveal my secret Twitter handles. I realize Taylor can’t get 400 carries per game. I’d just like to see more than 16 times per game, which is what he was averaging (16.1 per) going into yesterday’s contest.

MILLER: Let’s not forget the other thousand positives from yesterday—how the Colts, in all three phases of the game, did crime-of-passion OVERKILL touchdowns all over the Bills’ mangled corpse. It wasn’t just Taylor. It was literally everybody, in every facet of the game, for 60 never-a-doubt minutes. It was a violent home invasion gone horribly right, and it was a genuine joy to behold. 

SCHULTZ: It’s crazy that the Colts are again watchable, both on and off the field. We’ll see if we can really take this turnaround seriously this Sunday, when He Who Must Not Be Named returns to Lucas Oil Stadium, with his new team and Super Bowl Ring #9723 in hand, for the first time since the infamous Chuck Pagano Fake Punt Game. Until then, enjoy your dry-ass white meat on Thursday, folks! Let Nate know if you need any extra gravy!