Colts RB Jonathan Taylor Predicted to Join Elite NFL Company in 2022

Jonathan Taylor

Getty Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor could make history during the 2022 NFL season.

Jonathan Taylor became the 63rd player to lead the NFL in rushing last season. But the Indianapolis Colts running back star may just be getting started.

The Bleacher Report NFL Staff picked Taylor (along with Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb with two votes each) to finish first in the NFL in rushing yards this season. If Taylor accomplishes that feat, he will be just the third player to capture back-to-back NFL rushing titles since 2000 and only the 11th player to do it in league history.

Of the 10 players who have won two straight rushing titles, eight of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of the two players not in the Hall of Fame is not yet eligible for enshrinement.

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Taylor Chasing History

The NFL recognizes 1932 as the first season the league awarded a rushing title. Since then, 19 players have led the NFL in rushing at least twice. Two other running backs led the AFL in rushing yards on two ocassions.

Of those 21 players, 14 of them are in the Hall of Fame, and three of those players are not yet eligible.

A second rushing title at any point during the rest of Taylor’s career moves him into a select group. Taylor is only 23 years old, so he will have numerous chances to lead the NFL in rushing again.

But if he were to win a second straight rushing title this season, he would enter very elite company which includes some of the best running backs in NFL history.

The last back-to-back rushing title winner wasn’t too long ago. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry finished first in rushing in 2019 and 2020. But before that, LaDainain Tomlinson was the most recent to accomplish the feat in 2006-07.

Of the 10 running backs who have captured back-to-back rushing titles, two of them played for the Colts. Edgerrin James led the NFL in rushing in 1999 and 2000. Eric Dickerson did as well in 1983 and 1984 while a member of the Los Angeles Rams.

The only other two running backs with back-to-back rushing titles over the last 40 years are Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders.

Leading the league in rushing a second consecutive season is not easy. That’s evident by the fact some of the best running backs in history weren’t able to accomplish the feat.

Despite three career rushing titles, Adrian Peterson never led the NFL in rushing two years in a row. Neither did Gale Sayers, who led the league in rushing twice.

Former Colts running backs Marshall Faulk and Frank Gore are ranked among the Top 12 in career rushing yards, yet neither of them led the NFL in rushing during a season.

Jerome Bettis and Tony Dorsett are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and are still in the Top 10 all time in rushing yards, but they never won a rushing title either.


Taylor’s Efficiency Key to Another Rushing Title

When Tomlinson won his first rushing title in 2006, he averaged 21.75 carries per game.

But the game has changed. Running backs might get 20-plus touches in a contest, but more of them are coming in the passing game. Last year, Taylor led the league with 19.5 carries per week.

That volume was important to his success, but Taylor also averaged 5.5 yards per carry. That average propelled him to four 100-yard rushing games despite him receiving under 20 attempts in 2021.

While the Colts offense will still be centered around Taylor in 2022, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the third-year back receive fewer carries than 2021.

Indianapolis has hyped running back Nyheim Hines all offseason. Hines could cut into Taylor’s snaps because Hines gives the Colts another element in the passing game. Deploying Hines more could also keep Taylor fresher for December and January.

Furthermore, quarterback Matt Ryan is now under center in Indianapolis. Ryan’s arrival should give the Colts more balance on offense, leading to more passing.

Taylor is one of the most talented running backs in the league, which is why he’s a great choice for his second straight rushing title. But he will likely have to remain ultra efficient to lead the league in rushing again.

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