After losing a fumble deep in Indianapolis Colts‘ territory against the Kansas City Chiefs on wild card weekend, Trent Richardson didn’t carry the ball for the remainder of the game and was brought on the field merely to pass-protect. This trend should continue when the Colts travel to Gillette Stadium on Saturday night to take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional round.
To say Richardson has struggled since his Week 3 trade from the Cleveland Browns would be an understatement. During his time at Alabama under Nick Saban, Richardson developed the reputation of being a tough, downhill runner known for his physicality and ability to pick up yards after contact. He made a smooth transition into the NFL when drafted by the Browns in 2012, running for 950 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. With the Colts, however, he looks to be a completely different player.
Richardson seems to lack the vision needed to exploit gaps and hesitates in the backfield far too often. The Colts’ below average offensive line does not help matters, but it is clear Richardson does not fit Pep Hamilton’s “power” running style. He averaged a lowly 2.9 yards per carry during the regular season and ran for three scores; this is not a good return for the Colts, who gave up a first round draft pick to secure his services.
Of course, the most concerning aspect of Richardson’s season has been the high-pressure situations in which he has failed to protect the football. The fumble against the Chiefs was reminiscent of the Week 7 matchup against the Denver Broncos. The Colts led by 16 points in the 4th quarter when Richardson coughed up the ball on the Indianapolis 20-yard line. The Broncos scored a touchdown from the turnover, but thankfully for Richardson, just like the wild card game, the Colts escaped with a victory.
For the Patriots clash, sticking with veteran back Donald Brown is simply the sensible option. Brown ran for more than 500 yards at 5.3 per carry and rushed for six touchdowns during the regular season, along with two receiving scores. He also stepped up last week against the Chiefs while Richardson floundered under the bright lights of postseason football.
Two touchdowns and 102 all-purpose yards helped the Colts mount one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history, and despite losing the ball on the Chief’s goal line in the 4th quarter – thanks to Andrew Luck – Brown has yet to lose a fumble during his five-year career.