Where does Jonathan Taylor sit in the MVP race?

Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor could break a long MVP drought for running backs. Photo from USA Today.

While it’s rare for running backs to win the award, there should be no question that Jonathan Taylor is in the MVP race in 2021.

The Indianapolis Colts running back has to be near the top of the NFL MVP rankings and in the running for the award. Even in a league dominated by quarterbacks, Taylor has been good enough to warrant serious consideration.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Taylor can be the first running back to win MVP since Adrian Peterson did it in 2012. The odds are inherently stacked against him. However, Jonathan Taylor’s stats in 2021 tell us that there’s a chance.

Jonathan Taylor NFL MVP race 2021

The biggest thing carrying Taylor’s MVP argument is that he is literally running away with the NFL’s rushing title. Through 13 games, Taylor has racked up 1,348 yards for the Colts, putting him on pace to rush for 1,763 yards over the 17-game season. No other back in the league is anywhere close to Taylor in that category. He also leads the league in total touchdowns with 18 and all-purpose yards thanks to his 336 yards as a receiver this season. That puts him on pace for just over 2,200 all-purpose yards in 2021.

For comparison’s sake, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards when he won MVP honors in 2012. It will take a strong finish over his final four games for Taylor to reach that mark. However, Peterson had just 2,314 all-purpose yards and 13 total touchdowns that season. Taylor has already surpassed that touchdown total and is within striking distance of Peterson’s all-purpose yard total during his MVP season.

Obviously, Jonathan Taylor’s stats in 2021 will have to be comparable to Peterson’s in 2012 and far better than any other running back this season to keep him in the MVP discussion. But Taylor’s value to his team is also going to matter. Of course, there is no doubt that Taylor is one of the most important players in the league to his team’s success.

Relying on team success

Consider that Indy quarterback Carson Wentz, who was the MVP frontrunner for much of 2017, is average at best. In fact, the Colts don’t even rank among the top-20 teams in the NFL in passing yards. Also, the Colts once looked dead in the water at 1-4 earlier this season. But they’ve won six of their last eight games to get themselves into the playoff race. Taylor has undoubtedly been the catalyst for that success, scoring 15 of his 18 touchdowns during that eight-game stretch and averaging 145 rushing yards per game in those six wins. That includes a five-touchdown performance in a massive win over the Bills.

Ultimately, Taylor’s MVP hopes will likely be tied to whether or not the Colts make the playoffs. Indianapolis remains behind the Titans in the AFC South and is in the middle of a crowded AFC Wild Card race. The Colts also have games against the Patriots and Cardinals on their schedule, two games that will go a long way toward determining whether or not Indy makes the playoffs. If Taylor can continue to produce down the stretch and carry the Colts across the finish line and into the playoffs, his case for MVP will be even stronger.


The good news for Taylor is that the NFL MVP rankings remain wide open. All of the other candidates have good but ultimately flawed arguments for MVP, leaving the door open for a non-quarterback to win it. With four games left in the season, the opportunity is there for Taylor to win MVP. However, he has to keep putting up exceptional stats and he needs to get the Colts to the playoffs. If both of those things happen, Taylor will have a legitimate chance to win MVP in 2021.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 239 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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