Jonathan Taylor galloped to the NFL rushing title with 1,811 yards last season. The Houston Texans certainly were among the number of teams the Indianapolis Colts feature back bowled over through 17 games in 2021.
While the Texans gave up 143 and 145 yards rushing to Taylor, the prodigious rusher was stifled during the season. There were seven times in 2021 where Taylor failed to reach 100 yards rushing, and the Colts were 0-7 in such games.
It isn’t easy to do, but it is possible.
Texans coach Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme incorporates shutting down the run, which is the objective weekly regardless of which premier back they may be facing.
“For us, Jonathan Taylor is one of the best in the league, simple as that,” Smith told reporters Monday. “We know the challenge that we face, but what is it going to take? Gang tackle. Need everybody at the point of attack. Discipline in your gaps, because if he breaks it, he’s faster than most people too. It will be a big challenge.”
Not only did Taylor tally at least 140 yards rushing against the Texans last season, which was a defense also orchestrated by Smith as he was the defensive coordinator under then-coach David Culley, but he scored two rushing touchdowns. The former 2020 second-rounder from Wisconsin punched in 18 touchdowns on the ground last year, adding another threatening dimension to his game.
“We’re going to have big challenges each week,” Smith said. “The challenge for us is to compete with them, because we didn’t last year. They dominated us last year. We have to show up this year.”
The Colts weren’t anything special when it came to the rest of the Texans’ schedule. Only three times did Houston hold an opposing offense under 100 yards rushing. It is no surprise the Texans were 2-1 in such contests.
If the Smith era wants to get off to a promising start with a win, it will have to begin with answering the “big challenge” of stopping Taylor.