INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts running backs coach Tom Rathman spoke to local reporters this week via video conference. What did he have to say about rookie Jonathan Taylor's adaptation to an NFL offense, as well as his development running the ball in various schemes?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are a couple top takeaways:
» Taylor's diligence and mindset have allowed him to adapt to an NFL offense very quickly: Taylor's college film at Wisconsin indicated the Colts were undoubtedly getting one of the more explosive running backs in recent NFL Draft memory. Taylor, of course, left Wisconsin after finishing sixth in NCAA history in rushing yards, accumulating more than 6,000 yards on the ground in just three seasons.
But if you want to make it as an NFL running back it takes more than pure athleticism and traits; you have to learn how to be effective in multiple schemes, how to pick up blitzes and be a solid pass protector, how to be dependable as a receiver in the passing game and much more.
Rathman said Taylor has had no problems adapting to those duties in his first six NFL games. Taylor, of course, was named the Colts' starter in Week 2 after veteran Marlon Mack suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and has ran the ball 89 times for 367 yards (4.1 avg.) with three touchdowns, and also has 16 receptions for 162 yards (10.1 avg.).
"You know, he's a smart kid, and that's one of the biggest factors of being a good football player is having the mindset, and he's done everything that he needs to do," Rathman said of Taylor. "It's just about getting experience, and the more experience he gets, the better he's going to be. But he's been great to work with from the standpoint of a coach to a player. I mean, he's very diligent about being detailed, and I think that's one of the things that you always look for in a winning football player."
» Taylor is learning how to be effective in different run schemes: Oftentimes one of the hardest adjustments for running backs to make going from college to the NFL is learning how to set up their blocks vs. when it's time to simply hit the gas and go.
The Colts have a veteran, experienced offensive line in left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard, Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith, and had developed quite the chemistry the last few seasons with Mack as the team's primary running back. Mack, who was more of a boom-or-bust speedster at the college level, really took off in Indy when he got on the same page as his offensive linemen and was able to let the scheme work in his favor.
Rathman said the rookie Taylor is still learning how to do just that, but has seen a great deal of improvement in this very area in recent weeks.
"It really depends on what the scheme is. Do you hit it or do you have patience to deliver those guys to the double teams?" Rathman said. "It really depends on what the scheme is, but I think he's demonstrated that he has the ability to run in multiple schemes, whether it be an outside zone, inside zone, a gap scheme, pin-and-pull concept.
"I mean, he's able to do all that stuff with his physical ability and just understanding how it works and how he fits on a play, and I think he's adapted to the NFL pretty good at this point."