This Friday, Sept. 19, Trent Richardson will celebrate his one-year anniversary with the Indianapolis Colts. At this time last year, fans across the league were intrigued. Midseason trades are rare, especially when first-round picks are involved. Richardson was liberated from the quagmire also known as the Cleveland Browns. The Colts’ actions indicated that they thought they were on the verge of something special.
Along the way, the current Richardson narrative developed. He’s a draft bust. The Colts way overpaid and may have tanked their chances by spending so much to acquire him — and keeping in mind that it was the Richardson pick that sent Johnny Manziel to Cleveland makes the narrative all the juicier.
But in the Colts’ Week 2 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, Richardson seemed to be putting things together. He rushed for 79 yards, including several first downs. He moved confidently, including a nifty spin move at one point. Unfortunately, his stat line also included two fumbles (one recovered, one lost), and thus the narrative persists.
Perception is a funny thing. Against the Eagles, Colts running backs combined for more yards than Andrew Luck, and many observers would say this is why they lost. Ahmad Bradshaw‘s stats at 70 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards were surprisingly close to Richardson’s 79 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards, considering Richardson’s stats are seen as disappointing and Bradshaw’s intriguing. Upon closer examination, Bradshaw got his numbers on 13 rushes to Richardson’s 21 and Bradshaw had two touchdowns to Richardson’s two fumbles, but how much of that is just situational? A guy can only run the play he’s given.
Indianapolis seems like an ideal place for Richardson to find his groove. Indy fans are traditionally a kind and forgiving people, hardly an embattled fanbase. He isn’t a bad guy; he hasn’t run afoul of the law or brought scandal upon the organization, like some formerly coveted running backs who shall remain nameless.
So what does Richardson have to do to break out of this narrative? Make the Pro Bowl? Average 80 yards a game? Would a ten touchdown season be enough? What would it take? What is reasonable to expect of him, especially since the Colts should be focusing on Luck’s arm anyway? And at what point might Richardson become underrated, and thus start exceeding expectations? Without the fumbles, wasn’t he on the verge of this against the Eagles? The eye-test says he’s getting closer.
Yes, the Colts are starting this season 0-2, but Colts fans can afford to ignore the pundits and have Richardson’s back for awhile. In time, he might still reward them for it.