Expectations have been high for Trent Richardson was one of the top running back recruits in the nation. The Pensacola-native ran for over 3,000-yards in his 3-year career with the Alabama Crimson Tide before becoming the third overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Richardson had a successful rookie season, running for 950-yards with 11-touchdowns. Despite being highly touted, Richardson only averaged 3.6-yards per carry. Not horribly surprising though on a 5-11 team with Brandon Weeden as your starting quarterback.
Before he can pick up any steam in his second season, the Browns traded Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick in the 2014-NFL Draft. His Browns career was over after just 298-carries for 1,055-yards.
With fellow 2012-draft pick Andrew Luck, the Colts now appeared to have two franchise cornerstones to lead their future success. The promise quickly turned to doubts, as while Luck flourished, Richardson struggled and failed to average 3-yards per carry (2.9). Whereas Richardson scored 11-touchdowns as a rookie in 15-games, he only managed 3-in 14-games with the Colts.
After just two years his career seemed to be fading quickly, Richardson would need to turn things around quickly in 2014 in order to stay relevant in the Colts organizational plans. Entering the season, he would have to compete with Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard for carries.
But an injury to Ballard (SIA profile) clears a little space for Richardson to claim the top spot on the depth chart. He is clearly very confident in himself, as he not only believes he can top 1,000-yards this season, but that mark is just the beginning.
“A thousand is not the goal for me. It’s personal. I’m going to keep it to myself. But a thousand is not it for me. It’s higher.”
At his current career pace, Richardson would have to see over 300-carries this season just to top 1,000-yards. Meaning he would have to clearly beat out Bradshaw and keep him at bay at season, something that 3.3-ypg won’t do.
But digging into his numbers shows that just may be the key to unlocking the special player waiting to run all over NFL defenses this year.
While his averages across the board are bad, this chart shows that indeed Richardson did run better the more times he touched the ball. Nothing complicated, he got better(ish?) the more he ran the ball.
Getting a healthy Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen back will make it all the more tempting to throw the ball up and down the field but the key to success is still running the ball. The Seattle Seahawks showed it last season. Even the Colts did.
In their 12-wins (including playoffs) last season, the Colts averaged 123-yards on the ground per game. In their six losses (including playoffs), they only ran for 73-yards per game which included an 18-yard performance against the St. Louis Rams.
Early reports is that Richardson is running better, running more confident which was a point that the NFL Network has pointed out that was a problem with Richardson.
An early commitment to the running game and then sticking to the running game will open things up for Luck to be your primary weapon, the Colts just need to let Richardson be their workhorse. He has the ability, he just needs the opportunity.
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