We’ve all been waiting for it. The moment it happens will be something of magic. Time will freeze, and a chill will envelope our bodies. We’ll crack a smile, and say “He’s here”.
Trent Richardson was drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2012. The Doak Walker Award winner juked around, ran over, or just straight out ran the best the SEC had to offer in his Junior season as he led Alabama to a National Championship en route to beating every team on the schedule. The 2012 draft had many stories, but without a doubt the talk of every football fan around the country was Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Luck was hyped for over a year as the top pick of the draft, whenever he were to declare. With the perfect size, a good arm, and a football IQ that could only be matched by grizzled veterans, the Stanford product was destined to succeed future first ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.
Robert Griffin III wasn’t always destined to go second overall and take the league by storm. After a few solid years at Baylor and some injuries here and there, 2011 was Griffin’s year. For those of us who witnessed his opening performance against TCU…well we were the chosen ones. RGIII lit up a Horned Frog defense that usually plays well. It was an amazing performance by the Baylor Quarterback. From that moment on, the whole country knew he was special. Griffin would go on to win the Heisman trophy and lead Baylor to a 10 win season.
RGIII may have won the Heisman, but he came second to Andrew Luck when the National Football league was picking players. Oddly enough, Luck was second to Griffin in Heisman voting. But one man stayed in his slot. “Third place”. Trent Richardson, the powerful tailback out of Alabama. He finished third in Heisman voting, and he was selected third overall in the 2012 draft. He won two National Titles with the Tide, and he was ready to take the NFL over.
“You don’t take a tailback this early.”
“Should have picked Justin Blackmon.”
Only a couple of the things some people said when the Browns drafted Richardson. Let’s quickly look at some pre draft analysis of Richardson.
Ideal build and size
Quickness to the hole
Tough, physical runner
Runs behind pads
Proper pad level
Has good straight-line speed
Can break off long runs
Capable of handling a large amount of touches
Phenomenal receiving ability
Willing blocker in blitz pickup; has potential to be very good
Didn’t take a massive pounding in college
Hard-nosed runner between the tackles
Improved study habits as a junior
Looks durable; backup for two seasons before becoming a starter
One thing stands out to me. Vision. Don’t get it twisted, no one is a bigger Trent Richrdson fan than me. But his vision is holding him back. What’s worse? His vision is the only thing holding him back. At Alabama, his first two years were good, but his vision was in question. As a Junior, it improved, but still his old habits popped up from time to time. He tried to create a hole by himself, instead of bursting to daylight. Later I plan to work on some visuals to show this, but essentially he’ll run into his lineman and try to use his power to break free. It worked in college, but in the NFL it won’t work.
With that said, as Richardson further settles into his third offensive scheme in a year and a half, his vision and patience have improved. Against San Diego on Monday, his vision was improved. He ran for only 4 yards per carry, but he also only had ten carries, and in the second half he ran six times for 29 yards. 4.8 yards per carry. But because San Diego led long drives, the Colts rarely had the ball, or a chance to run Richardson, since they had to pass later in the game to try and win. But once he settled down, he looked like the Richardson we’ve been waiting on. He did drop a pass (as did Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener…) and miss his assignment in pass protection, but he hasn’t been with the team long and learning the protection schemes will take time.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d jump all across the internet and all through the state of Alabama telling everyone that this Sunday will be Trent Richardson’s break out game.
But I know better.
Believe me, I hope I’m wrong, but the Denver Broncos will be coming to town, and they’re bringing the league’s second ranked run defense. Not only that, they get star Linebacker Von Miller back for the first time this season, and he makes the defense a lot better. To add to that, Denver scores points. A lot. And you know Peyton Manning will be determined. If the Colts can’t control the pace early and if they fall behind, they will HAVE to throw the ball to win, and it’ll be a classic when Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning duel it out in Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s the house that Peyton built, but it’s the house that Luck resides in. And that’s why Trent Richardson won’t break out in this game. He’ll be facing a stout defense to run against, and Indy will have to abandon the run game to keep up with the Broncos.
I pray that I’m wrong and Richardson will get 20 carries and play like he did in the second half against the Chargers (4.8 YPC X 20 = 96 yards), but predicting it would just be blind homerism. If I were making a prediction, I’d say Richardson carries the ball 11 times for 38 yards. I’ll be cheering for 20 carries and 96 yards, and it’ll be the happiest I’ve ever been when being wrong.