The 2012 NFL draft was considered to be loaded with Hall of Fame talent in the first few selections. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Luke Kuechly, and a bruising running back out of Alabama named Trent Richardson. All have made a Pro Bowl in their young careers, besides Richardson.
Richardson as we all know went third overall to the Cleveland Browns, and in his rookie year rushed for over 900 yards and nine touchdowns. He would be traded on September 18, 2013 to the Colts for a first round draft pick.
So here we are seven months later still looking for answers as Richardson fell flat on his face as a Colt in his first season with the team, where he averaged 2.9 yards per carry, the lowest of any starting running back in 2013.
In a statement released on ESPN.com last week, Richardson stated “I think we do have a first-round pick — and that’s me, They spent their money on me in the first round. No pressure toward proving to everybody else, just proving to me that I can be the best.”
It is no secret that Pep Hamilton wants the Colts to run the ball to set up the pass, and with the new addition of Hakeem Nicks, and a healthy Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen, the Colts look poised to become one of the best offenses in 2014, barring a breakout year from TR.
Last Monday on the first minicamp for the Colts this offseason, Richardson was asked what went wrong in his first season with the Colts. “You catch yourself trying to hit the home run when you haven’t had the big runs yet,It’s human. But you can’t hit the home run. You have to set up your runs. That’s one thing, (because of) not having as much success as I’ve always had, you catch yourself saying, ‘I gotta score, I gotta score.'”
Patience is a virtue, and in the case of Richardson it might be right. He will finally have a full offseason to learn Hamilton’s system, and a chance to relax and not put so much pressure on himself. He has moments during his rookie year where he showed that he can become one of the best running backs in the league, and while running backs are a dime a dozen in today’s pass happy league, a high caliber running back can be a vital asset.
Richardson will be ready for the 2014 season, but will have to share time with Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw. TR works well in open space, and late into the season was at his best on screens and wheel routes out of the backfield where he could make defenders miss.
Luck will use this to his advantage, and when Richardson gains his confidence back the running game will come to him. Expect him to be the starter at some point in the season, and his 2.9 yards per carry in 2013 to become a thing of the past. 1,200 all-purpose yards should be the goal for Richardson in 2014, and if he can reach that goal, the Colts will have a top 3 offense in the NFL, and likely be a top 2 seed in the AFC come the playoffs.
The running game will be a key for Colts success in 2014, as it will allow Luck to pick apart defenses as defenders load the box to slow down TR and company. So. look out NFL, Richardson might be here for the long haul.