Salem’s Jonathan Taylor emerges as NFL MVP candidate

by Marc Narducci | Dec 22, 2021
Salem’s Jonathan Taylor emerges as NFL MVP candidate

Salem graduate Jonathan Taylor has earned a Pro Bowl berth in this, his second season with the Indianapolis Colts. 

The bigger question is can Taylor become the NFL’s MVP?

Taylor is having that kind of an impact season.

After an outstanding career at Wisconsin, where he rushed for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons, Taylor was the 41st overall player in the second round of the 2020 draft.

He was the third running back taken. LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first running back taken with the 32nd and final pick of the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Georgia’s DeAndre Swift, who played his high school football at Philadelphia’s St. Joe Prep was the next running back chosen, at No. 35 by the Detroit Lions.

Taylor was then the third running back chosen at No. 41.

This is nothing against Edwards-Helaire and Swift, who have been solid in their first two seasons (although Swift is currently injured), but they can’t compare to Taylor.

There is always the argument that teams shouldn’t select running backs in the first round, but special ones like Taylor do warrant being selected highly.

The 5-10, 226-pound Taylor has an enviable combination of power and speed. At Salem, he was a two-time 100 meter champion in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. As a senior in 2017, he won the MOC 100 in a time of 10.64 seconds.

He has continued to run away from opponents in the NFL.

Last season as a rookie for the Colts, Taylor rushed for 1,169 yards (5.0 avg.) and 11 touchdowns.

He was a main factor in the Colts earning a playoff berth last season before losing 27-24 to eventual AFC finalist Buffalo. Taylor rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the playoff loss.

The Colts are in the hunt for a playoff spot against this year and Taylor is the main reason.

Indianapolis began the season 1-4, but is now 8-6 and through Sunday was the No. 5 seed in the AFC, where seven teams will make the playoffs.

Last week Taylor rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries in a 27-17 win over New England that snapped the Patriots’ seven-game win streak.

For the season Taylor has rushed for 1,518 yards (5.6 avg.) and 17 touchdowns. He also has 36 receptions for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

This season Taylor has rushed for 100 or more yards in eight games. The Colts are 8-0 in such games.

Indianapolis plays in a dome so weather doesn’t matter, but if the Colts have to play a road playoff game in a cold weather-city (assuming they qualify for the postseason), then having a ground game led by Taylor will be invaluable.

Yes, the quarterbacks will likely get the most consideration for MVP. Right now Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers could earn his second straight MVP, but Taylor will make it difficult if he continues to play like this.

He’s dominating NFL teams the way he did in high school and his MVP candidacy seems to be earning more steam with each passing week.

Photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts

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Author: Marc Narducci

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