Jonathan Taylor puts on old-school show in Colts’ big Week 11 win over Bills


There was still time for the Bills to come back Sunday in sleety Orchard Park, N.Y., down 24-7 to the Colts early in the third quarter. Indianapolis had the ball, first down at the Buffalo 31, and coach Frank Reich loved this play-action call, and he called it. Incomplete. Penalty. The Colts got pushed out of field-goal range and had to punt. After the series was over, Reich decided to do something no coach in modern football does, and something he never does.

“Never, never, never,” Reich told me Sunday night.

“I decided I was going to run the ball on every first and second down from there on,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why?” he said. “Because every time we ran it, good things were happening. Every time we ran it, the pile was moving forward. And when you have Jonathan Taylor on your side, you know the pile’s going to keep moving.”

On the next 18 first and second downs, Reich was true to his words (almost perfectly). He called 17 runs on those 18 plays, and the lead ballooned to 41-15, and Taylor, mostly, bled the clock, finishing his 32-carry, 185-yard, five-touchdown day.

The Colts, in their most decisive win of the four-year Reich era, a win that catapulted them back into AFC South contention, had a 70-30 run-pass ratio while holding the ball for almost 38 minutes. Running it 70 percent of the time is unheard of in today’s football. The Colts played football the way Jim Brown and Jim Taylor used to: by imposing their will on the opponent. The Colts put up 41 points on a legit Super Bowl contender—and threw for a grand total of 106 yards along the way.

“This was an old-school football game,” Reich said.

And this was the coolest part: On the fourth play after Reich’s first-and-second-down run declaration, Indianapolis had a first down at midfield. Carson Wentz handed to Taylor, who burst off right tackle for 40 yards. First down now, at the Buffalo 10. As the playclock ticked down, Reich called another run, this time where Taylor could choose his own hole to the left. And he felt his coaches wondering, Aren’t you going to give him a break after running for 40? “Earlier in the season, he had an 83-yard run, and I gave it to him the next three plays, and we got a touchdown,” Reich said. “The coaches wondered about that, and I said, ‘If he was tired, he’d come out.’ “

The clock bled down to :03, :02, with Taylor a single back behind Wentz.

“Gotta go! Gotta go!” Wentz yelled, and the ball was snapped at :01.

From the 10, Wentz handed it to Taylor. At the 9, Taylor juked to the right of corner Levi Wallace, who went flying to the wet turf. Close to the goal line, there was safety Micah Hyde waiting for him. “That’s when you really have to dig deep,” Taylor told me from the locker room post-game. “When a play is perfectly designed, you usually have one man to beat. Here there was a second guy. So you have to fall back on the work you’ve put in, the study of that team during the week.”

Hyde’s a good safety, and here he was, waiting to end Taylor’s dance around the 3-yard line. Taylor whacked him in the helmet with the base of his right palm, a forceful stiff-arm, and Hyde went flying too, and Taylor juked to the left and scored.

Such a forceful, confident run, with a make-‘em-miss touch of Barry Sanders.

“We’re watching it,” Reich said, “and the whole sideline is saying, “Wow! How’d that happen!’ “

It happened because Taylor is as strong as he is shifty, as athletic as he is physical. The Colts are 6-5 this morning because of Taylor’s five-TD day in Buffalo, and because he has a coach willing to ride the hot hand, no matter how different the game is. Jonathan Taylor is the best back not named Derrick Henry in football, and because Henry is likely out for the rest of the regular season at least, Taylor owns the title. He is the best running back playing.

Indy GM Chris Ballard went to Wisconsin. He has a soft spot for Badgers. And when the 2020 draft came along, and Ballard thought he needed a franchise back, he and his scouting staff got fixated on the 5-10, 226-pound Taylor, who averaged 151 rushing yards in 41 games at Wisconsin—after, amazingly, bypassing a strong pitch from Harvard to play and study there. (Taylor was tempted.) Early in the second round of the draft, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift gone and the Colts still seven or eight picks away from the spot they thought they’d take Taylor, 44th overall, owner Jimmy Irsay piped up.

“Uh, Chris,” Irsay, “you’ve been talking about this guy Jonathan Taylor all spring. Don’t you think you ought to go get him?”

Ballard obliged. He got on the phone, not really worried that Taylor would get plucked before 44, but understanding that a team that might love him could swoop in with a trade to get him. So he dealt his fifth-rounder to the Browns to move from 44 to 41 to pick Taylor. And everyone in the draft room, he said, exhaled.

“I’ve worked four drafts with Chris now, since 2018,” Reich told me. “And I don’t think there’s ever been a player he liked more than Jonathan Taylor.”

So much drama in Orchard Park on Sunday—good for the Colts, nightmarish for Buffalo. Think of Reich. Twenty-nine years ago, he was playing for the Bills as a backup quarterback (starter Jim Kelly was hurt) in the AFC wild-card game against Houston. Buffalo trailed 35-3 in the third quarter and won 41-38. Now, think of Reich the coach, going into Buffalo as a 5-5 team struggling to stay in the playoff race. And they skunked one of the teams favored to reach the Super Bowl, the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.

Perhaps that’s why Reich stood in the middle of his players post-game and said this:

“I know we got a long way to go . . .”

Now screaming as loud as he can scream . . .


Then Reich was about to give the game ball to Taylor, who ran for four touchdowns and caught a Wentz pass for a fifth, when he decided he wanted to make this a family affair.

“Can we do this together?” he asked his players, who roared in approval.

They started . . . “One! Two! Three! Four! Five” in unison. And when Taylor came for the ball, the players cried, “Speeeeech! Speeeeech!”

“Like we mentioned all week,” Taylor said, “we owed those dudes something.”

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. (Getty Images)

Taylor’s a Jersey kid. When he was growing up, he loved space and sometime thought how fun it would be to travel through it. In high school, he was a late bloomer in football, to the point that Harvard coach Tim Murphy was convinced he had a good shot at winning a middling recruiting race for Taylor. But Taylor wanted to prove to himself he could be a great football player, and so he chose Wisconsin. “Once I got to high school and lifting weights and working at it, football grew on me,” Taylor said.

To the point that Ballard now calls him one of the five biggest offensive weapons in football. “It makes me want to go out every week and work hard so I can back him up,” Taylor said.

But 15 touchdowns now, and, barring injury, a great chance at winning a rushing title. Taylor is bright and optimistic, but he doesn’t love hearing how great he is.

“We know it’s a 1-0 mentality each week,” Taylor said. “Anytime you look too far ahead or reminisce in the past too long, that’s how you get lost in the sauce. So just understanding that we have the defending world champions coming up next week [Tampa at Indy next Sunday] and we have to take care of business to even think about our goals at the end of the year.”

But others will speak for him. “I was around Devin Hester in Chicago,” said Ballard, “and ever time he touched the ball, I thought he’d score. I’m feeling the same way about Jonathan.”

On one of Taylor’s five scores Sunday, tight end Mo-Alie Cox said:  “One play at the goal line I’m blocking and I turn my head and see him fly through the air like a f—ing superhero.” Get used to it. The Colts are going as far as Taylor can drag them.

Read more in Peter King’s Football Morning in America column

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!