After a breakout season last year for the Indianapolis Colts, Jonathan Taylor hasn’t seen the same level of success in 2022. He led the league in rushing last year with 1,811 yards. It earned him high picks in fantasy football, and brought on a belief he would make a difference this season. It has been much harder sledding, but he must be excited about an opportunity against Minnesota.
Although this Indianapolis Colts team is not good, and Jeff Saturday remains a wild card as a head coach, there’s no denying that it’s Jonathan Taylor who they’ll rely upon this weekend. Matt Ryan isn’t the quarterback he once was, and the wide receivers at his disposal leave plenty to be desired. Coming off a drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis will lean on Taylor to right their ship.
For Taylor, Minnesota may be the thing he’s most excited about. Although he has yet to play at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings squared off against the Colts during the 2020 season at Lucas Oil Stadium. Although only 2,500 fans were in attendance, Taylor put on a show. Carrying the ball 26 times, he racked up 101 yards while punching in a touchdown. Kirk Cousins was awful that day, being picked off three times and putting up just 113 yards on 26 attempts. The Vikings lost a laugher by the score of 28-11.
Although that is the only time the former Wisconsin Badgers star has seen the Vikings, he has had success in the state. When facing the Minnesota Golden Gophers as a junior back in 2019, Taylor tallied 76 yards on 18 carries. He picked up two rushing touchdowns in that game, and converted one of his two receptions into a third touchdown. Minnesota entered that game as the 9th ranked team in the nation, but it was the 13th ranked Badgers that won 38-17 and took The Axe back to Madison.
For both Vikings fans, and Gopher fans alike, shutting down Taylor this weekend would go a long ways to covering some of those wounds. No team has a longer winning streak against the Minnesota Vikings than the Indianapolis Colts, and now getting a team that shouldn’t be thought of in close to the same tier of competition, Minnesota can exorcise some demons. Keeping Taylor under wraps would go a long way towards emerging victorious, and it’s something that neither football team in this state has been able to do in their last two opportunities.
With Taylor having experienced so much success against Minnesota both as an amateur and a professional, he will certainly be excited about the opportunity to keep the good momentum going. With Ed Donatell having the week to refocus his defense, they must key on the talented back and make sure that this is their time to get it right.
There’s no reason why Minnesota shouldn’t be well positioned to win out in the regular season, and taking those opportunities one week at a time is a must. Despite being favored on Saturday, the Vikings should seek to first shut down Taylor, and then to put up points in bunches and secure a blowout win that they’ve so badly craved.
Jonathan Taylor hasn’t had the season he has wanted, or was expected to have. This is probably a spot where he sees an opportunity to get things going, but from the jump, it will be on the Vikings to control the narrative and not allow this contest to be reminiscent of history.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.