Trent Richardson had the type of day new owners—Jimmy Haslam III and fantasy alike—were hoping to see from the talented rookie. He looked fully recovered from his knee injury and is out to prove that runners are back in the NFL.
While the Cleveland Browns ultimately spoiled their opportunity for an upset win in Week 2, Richardson showcased his talents as a runner and receiver.
His first NFL touchdown came on a 32-yard run in the first half. He then showed just how dangerous he can be on a simple dump pass from fellow rookie Brandon Weeden. He broke a pair of tackles before breaking away from two more for the 23-yard score.
Trent Richardson 1st Browns rookie since the merger with 100+ rushing yards, rushing TD and receiving TD #doinwork— trey wingo (@wingoz) September 16, 2012
Richardson's final stat line on the day was impressive: 19 CAR, 109 YDS, 1 TD, 4 REC, 36 YDS, 1 TD.
Moving up a slot in the draft to select a running back with the third pick overall was a move many had questioned. After all, the NFL has become a passing league.
But there are some teams that still believe they can win with good defense and a powerful rushing attack. The San Francisco 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game with that approach last season.
Trent Richardson quickly showing off why he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft...AND the best RB I've ever evaluated.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 16, 2012
Team president Mike Holmgren believes in a West Coast Offense that originates from a solid ground game. He hired Pat Shurmur to coach that kind of team and brought in GM Tom Heckert to help him build the roster to make it happen.
Weeden will engineer the offense, but his success will be driven by what Richardson can do on the ground. Cleveland will give Richardson plenty of opportunities on the ground and Weeden will rely on him as an outlet receiver while he adjusts to the NFL.
Part of Richardson's success will come via his special skills, but it doesn't hurt that the Browns' schedule favors a ground game. They play the NFC East and AFC West, featuring teams that have given up big games to runners so far this season.
If Daryl Richardson, the second-to-last back taken in the 2012 draft, can rip the Washington Redskins for 83 yards on 15 carries, then Trent Richardson should be salivating at the opportunity to face them. He'll want to show he can outperform veteran Steven Jackson, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry with 58 yards on nine opportunities.
Of the remaining teams on the schedule, all but three have already surrendered big games to a back this season. The San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers have stifled star backs like Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. The Denver Broncos had a good Week 1 game against the Steelers, but they were without their star ball-carrier.
Owners with Richardson on their roster should have him inked in as a starter every week.
If they are so deep at running back that they are struggling with whom to sit then it is time to consider a trade to fill holes in another area of the roster.
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