Grading Trent Richardson in His Debut for the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts gave up their 2014 first-round pick for Richardson, who was selected third overall by the Browns in 2012, and had received both criticism and praise for their acquisition of the second-year back.
While Richardson is a very powerful back with a high ceiling, he's been ineffective so far in his short career, and the price of a first-round pick is steep for a team with other, more important holes.
The San Francisco game isn't an indicator of whether the trade was the correct move or not, but nevertheless, everybody was watching Richardson during the Colts' 27-7 upset. How did he fare behind the Colts' questionable offensive line?
Outside Running- N/A
Richardson's running was limited in this one, as the Colts adapted to his lack of knowledge in the playbook.
Without charting the game, it seemed like every one of Richardson's carries were down the middle. Richardson's not the quickest back, to say the least, so keeping him inside and pounding the ball makes sense, especially on a short week.
Richardson will get more looks on the outside as the season progresses, but Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown carried the outside run game in this one.
Inside Running: C-
As a powerful back who should excel running up the middle, Richardson didn't impress against the 49ers. Richardson finished with just 35 yards on 13 carries, the vast majority of which were right up the middle.
Richardson showed questionable vision and patience, slamming the ball into the backs of Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach rather than waiting for a hole to open up. Richardson did run for a 1-yard touchdown on the Colts' initial drive, but had little success outside of that.
The second-year back had little burst, and his longest run of the game was a 7-yard pounder.
Passing Game: D+
Like outside running, Richardson wasn't asked to get involved in the passing game for the most part, as the Colts used Bradshaw and Brown in that role for the majority of the game.
Andrew Luck did target Richardson three times, but was unable to connect on any of the throws. Richardson had a chance at a couple, but was unable to pull them in. They weren't the easiest passes to haul in, but were still catchable.
Richardson did have at least one solid block in pass protection, but again, wasn't asked to do much this week.
Fit in the Offense: Incomplete
From the eye test, it seems like Richardson could be a very good fit in a power-run offense, Chuck Pagano's weapon of choice.
Richardson is a strong, powerful back that can run through contact, and could be a very good fit behind the Colts' offensive line (if it blocks like it did for much of the Colts' win over the 49ers).
However, it's impossible to know if that will materialize. Richardson struggled with vision today, and his lack of experience with the Colts' playbook limited his snap count. We'll know more after a couple weeks, but the potential is clear with Richardson. Whether or not that potential will be realized is a big unknown.
Whenever a highly-touted back like Richardson runs for a 2.7-yard average, the grade is going to be pretty low. Richardson showed little elusivity and vision against San Francisco, and outside of his touchdown run, simply didn't add to the offense.
Both Bradshaw and Brown looked better running the ball, and Bradshaw finished the game with 95 yards on 19 carries.
But, take the game with a grain of salt. Richardson doesn't know the playbook yet, and his use was fairly predictable. With a few weeks under the Colts' coaches, Richardson's play should improve dramatically. If he learns patience and vision from Ahmad Bradshaw, he could be a Pro Bowl level back for Indianapolis.