Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson met with the Associated Press earlier this week to look back on what has been another good season under second-year head coach Chuck Pagano. Grigson also hinted at future plans as we move into 2014, and unfortunately for Colts fans, those plans seem to include running back Trent Richardson.
“We don’t win twelve games this year if Richardson isn’t here. That’s just fact.” Those are the words of a desperate man trying to justify his role in the biggest NFL bust in recent memory. Yes, the Colts don’t win twelve games this year without Richardson; they probably win more.
It is important to remember that Donald Brown didn’t get the starting job over Richardson until the Week 13 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium, and while it is impossible to predict what may have happened if Brown had been promoted earlier in the year, it’s pretty safe to say the Colts earn more yards on the ground in those games with Brown in the backfield.
Indianapolis would have also benefited without Richardson because literally any running back in the league could have come in and done a better job. The Colts had one serviceable back for three-quarters of the season. Would they have won more games with an effective one-two punch at the running back position? There is no doubt about it.
Sure, Richardson was thrown into the mix in Week 3 of the regular season without a Colts’ training camp, but it is not unfair to expect some progression – any progression – as he familiarizes himself with the playbook. Instead, we saw the same thing time and time again. Richardson gets the ball; Richardson hesitates in the backfield; Richardson loses four yards on the play. I guess the inexcusable fumbles deep in Colts’ territory against the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs were also due to a lack of familiarity with the playbook, right?
Grigson told reporters the second-year player isn’t going anywhere, stating that he’s in it for the “long haul.” One man who may not be in it for the long haul is Grigson himself if there isn’t significant improvement from his running backs next season.
With Brown out of contract, Ahmad Bradshaw coming off of neck surgery and Vick Ballard returning from a season-long layoff, the Colts GM better hope his “blockbuster” trade acquisition knows that offensive playbook from back to front before preseason rolls around.