Bill Belichick, Patriots’ defense must lock in on Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

Following a bye week, the New England Patriots have a big game Saturday night against the playoff hungry Indianapolis Colts. In this AFC showdown, Bill Belichick knows there is one man who must be stop and that man is running back Jonathan Taylor.

As the Patriots head coach noted in his conference with the media on Monday, the Colts are a well-balanced team both on offense and defense, but let’s not kid ourselves, it starts and stops with the dangerous running back out of the University of Wisconsin.

"“[Jonathan] Taylor’s a hard guy to tackle. He’s strong, runs through a lot of arm tackles, and then he’s very fast” Belichick said, via “Not many players, defensively, that can catch him. If he gets out in the open, he can turn that eight or ten-yard run into a 60-yard touchdown. They run a variety of plays. They run gap plays. They run zone plays and they hand the ball to some of their skill players to keep you honest which, ultimately, opens up things for Taylor or [Nyheim] Hines, whoever it happens to be. Taylor’s strong. He catches well. He’s got total yards from scrimmage. Some of that’s in the passing game. He’s really been effective when he’s been able to get through the line of scrimmage and break a 60 or 70-yard run. It’s hard for teams to count on that in the running game. He’s been able to deliver for them with his speed and running ability.”"

New England Patriots must stop Jonathan Taylor from dominating

Forget about what Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson did against the Buffalo Bills on the ground last Monday night, it was Taylor and the Colts that really exposed the Bills’ run defense when they blasted the Patriots’ AFC East rivals 41-15 back in Week 11. It was a game in which Taylor ran for 185 yards and not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 touchdowns!

If the Patriots defensive front seven don’t come to play Saturday night, it could be a long game. The emphasis must be on tackling as that is an area that has killed the New England Patriots in past games in which they have given up long yardage on the ground. Like Belichick said, if they don’t tackle well, Taylor is highly capable of turning a short yard run into a touchdown run from anywhere on the field.

The big men up front like Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux must win their battle up front to limit running paths up the middle to force Taylor outside. That is where Matt Judon and Deathrich Wise must do a good job setting the edge which will allow linebackers like Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley to fill those holes. This could make for a big game for safeties Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger who do a good job playing in the box.

In other words, it will be beneficial for the New England Patriots defense to force the ball in the hand of Carson Wentz who only went up against Bill Belichick one time and lost. So, the focus will be to take away Taylor and force Wentz to beat the Patriots in the air.

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While Wentz has been playing good as of late, he can be forced into some mistakes and that is where Belichick will try to get the best of the Colts’ offense. But it starts with limiting Jonathan Taylor. He will get his runs, but the New England Patriots defense, particularly the front seven must assure he doesn’t dominate the game on the ground like he did against the Bills. You better believe Bill Belichick is driving that message home to his defense.