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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Running Backs Are System Players. Jonathan Taylor Is a System

Jonathan Taylor, running back for the Indianapolis Colts, may be condemned to failure in his quest to earn the N.F.L.’s Most Valuable Player Award due to a misunderstanding of semantics.

Taylor has 1,518 running yards, 1,854 scrimmage yards, and 19 rushing and receiving touchdowns to lead the National Football League. Taylor has 424 running yards and 370 scrimmage yards more than any other player in the league, giving him a three-game advantage over his competitors. A 27-17 win against the supposedly invincible New England Patriots defence in Week 15 sent the Indianapolis Colts to the forefront of the AFC wild-card race. Taylor ran for 170 yards and one score against what seemed to be an impenetrable Patriots defence.

Taylor, whose Indianapolis Colts take on the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night in a game that may have postseason implications for both clubs, is the most outstanding player in the National Football League. He is without a doubt one of the most significant and productive players in the league. Despite this, he is not the most valued player in the league.

When it comes to “worth,” quarterbacks are in an other league altogether. The majority of analytical models imply that even average quarterbacks provide more measurable value to their teams in terms of yards gained, points scored, and wins than the most exceptional athletes at any other position, regardless of their location on the field.

According to Football Outsiders, Taylor’s rushing has contributed 479 yards to the Colts’ offence this season, which is more than a “replacement level” running back (a normal backup) could provide. In terms of running backs, this is the greatest total in the whole league. However, 12 quarterbacks, ranging from Tom Brady to lesser passers such as Jimmy Garoppolo and Teddy Bridgewater, provide more than 479 yards to their teams’ offences compared to the usual replacement. Quarterbacks who excel in their positions provide far over 1,000 yards per year to their teams’ attacks, a total that no other running back can match. Other models generate findings that are comparable to these.

Many years ago, award voters agreed that most of the time, MVP honours should be reserved for quarterbacks alone. Given the voters’ preferences, handicappers have given Taylor lengthy odds of +1000 to win the MVP award, placing him well behind Aaron Rodgers (+125) and Tom Brady (+175), neither of whom is enjoying a very good season by their own standards.

Carson Wentz, the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, was once considered one of the league’s brightest prospects, but he has had three consecutive poor seasons. The Colts acquired Wentz in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in February as part of a witness relocation scheme to get him away from enraged Philadelphia Eagles fans. Wentz has the talent of a franchise quarterback, but he has gained a reputation for making costly blunders, such as shovel tosses right to defenders and left-handed heaves into traffic from his own end zone. As a result, Colts Coach Frank Reich like to make his game plans as conservative as possible. Only 12 passes were attempted and completed by Wentz in the Patriots’ win on Saturday, including a touchdown throw on a gadget play that went about an arm’s length in the air. In addition, he threw an interception. Taylor has ran more than Wentz has thrown three times in the previous four games, outpacing the quarterback.

Aside from that, Taylor is responsible for delivering the big plays that most teams attempt to produce via the passing game. Taylor leads the National Football League with 11 runs of 20 yards or more and four rushes of 40 yards or more. He also converted a screen throw into a 76-yard touchdown, which was the longest passing play of the season for the Colts. Taylor is credited with causing 41 missed or broken tackles, which is the most in the NFL, according to Sports Info Solutions. Rather than being a result of the Colts’ system, Taylor’s success has been (in large part) a product of the Colts’ strategy.

So, what exactly does a running back have to accomplish in order to earn a Most Valuable Player award these days? The more relevant question is what the quarterbacks in the league must accomplish in order to avoid winning the award. On Sunday night, Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers were defeated by the New Orleans Saints, who were led by quarterback Tom Brady. Rodgers is never more than one podcast away from convincing voters that their options are worth seriously considering. Other potential MVP candidates, like as Matthew Stafford and Patrick Mahomes, have had inconsistent seasons. It’s possible that Taylor will be considered for the Heisman Trophy if the quarterback vote is divided among three or four underwhelming contenders, and if he wins the running and touchdown crowns while leading the Colts to the postseason.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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