The Indianapolis Colts are going to take a committee approach in their backfield, according to multiple reports. The Colts will ride the hot hand while superstar running back Jonathan Taylor continues to sort through his uncertain future. The workload will be split between Zack Moss, Evan Hull, and Deon Jackson. Head coach Shane Steichen will use all three running backs, but Hull is my personal favorite to lead this makeshift Colts backfield.
Taylor is beginning the campaign on the PUP after previously requesting a trade out of Indianapolis. The Colts’ backfield is arguably the 32nd-ranked room in the NFL when removing Taylor from the equation. Hull is the most talented ball-carrier in Steichen’s plans.
The No. 176 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, Hull featured in all three Colts preseason games. The former Northwestern standout rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown and added two receptions for 18 yards to his offensive totals.
Hull is no stranger to heavy workloads. He became an every-down starter at Northwestern in 2021 and recorded a team-high 1,009 rushing yards. Hull carried that momentum over to 2022, his senior campaign, by posting 913 rushing yards and five touchdowns. A dual-threat back, Hull added 94 catches for 851 receiving yards across 35 career appearances.
That pass-catching prowess could help Hull seize the majority of Indianapolis’ available workload. Hull projects as Indianapolis’ third-down back. He’s outstanding in pass protection and could serve as a check-down outlet for rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Moss was considered the favorite to lead the backfield before suffering a broken arm during training camp. Moss is expected to play in Indianapolis’ regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Steichen is expected to work Moss back in slowly. Moss’ injury prevented him from appearing in the preseason—he missed crucial reps.
Moss is the short-yardage, between-the-tackles runner. His career has been rather uninspiring. The former third-round selection failed to establish himself as the Buffalo Bills’ lead back and owns a lackluster 4.3 yards per carry career average. The Colts will appreciate Moss’ experience, but he doesn’t possess every-down potential, even in this backfield.
Jackson is an exciting wild card. A former undrafted free agent out of Duke, Jackson is an agile scat-back whose speed should complement Richardson well in Steichen’s offense. Steichen’s system is expected to feature run-pass options, much like it did with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia.
Jackson was effective through three exhibition games. The Atlanta, Georgia native accounted for 37 total yards of offense and a touchdown while playing both as a runner and receiver. It felt like coach Steichen didn’t want to reveal Jackson’s true role in the offense, which has game-breaking potential.
Taylor will miss a minimum of four regular-season contests and may never play for the Colts again. General manager Chris Ballard may attempt to trade Taylor before the trade deadline. Until further notice, Moss, Hull, and Jackson are the trio in Steichen’s new-look approach. All three options will play specific roles. Of the three contenders, Hull possesses the best opportunity to seize the bulk of the workload.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023