When the Indianapolis Colts made the bold move to send a 2014 first-round draft pick to Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson back in September, most believed that Richardson would fill the missing piece in the Colts offense.
In fact, he has averaged less than 2.9 yards per carry and has not broken a run of longer than 16 yards with his new team.
Prior to Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, Richardson was benched in favor of fifth-year running back Donald Brown, a game in which Brown delivered 54 yards rushing on 14 carries for an average of 3.85 yards per carry.
While Brown did not come close to producing the 5.7 yards-per-carry average he brought into the game, he still gave the Colts nearly a yard more per run play than they have received from Richardson this season.
It is worth noting that Tennessee is not the best measuring stick for Indianapolis. Coming into Sunday, the Titans had allowed an average of 114.9 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 19th in the league.
It is also worth noting that Richardson averaged a similar 3.8 yards per carry against the Titans in Week 11, albeit on only five attempts (quarterback Andrew Luck gained 42 yards on his five attempts). Therefore, it is a little unfair to say that Richardson deserves to spend his time on the sidelines based on one game alone.
Unless, of course, you actually watch the Colts play for an entire game.
For whatever reason, Richardson just doesn't seem to have the same explosiveness that made him a star at Alabama and earned him a spot on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2013 list as a member of the Browns.
Brown, on the other hand, seems to locate and hit the hole with speed and decisiveness, which is likely why he has been able to produce longer runs on a more consistent basis this season.
In fact, Brown has had the appearance of a more explosive runner than Richardson over the course of his pro career. While this season has certainly brought out the best in Brown, his career yards-per-carry average of 4.3 if a full-yard higher than Richardson's career average.
Brown has also been more productive in the passing game this season, though neither back has been utilized on a regular basis. Brown has caught 18 passes for 161 yards, while Richardson has hauled in 14 for 127. This is a far cry from 2012, when Richardson was a centerpiece of the Cleveland offense.
|Colts Running Backs This Season|
|through Week 13|
While his numbers were far from elite with the Browns last season, they were highly respectable for an oft-injured rookie playing on a unit with less-than-ideal talent at the quarterback position. Despite regularly facing eight-man fronts, Richardson still managed to amass 950 yards rushing in 15 games, while adding 51 receptions for 367 yards with 12 total touchdowns.
The big mystery is why Richardson has been so ineffective since changing teams.
While Richardson was traded mid-season and hit the playing field with little preparation, he has now had 10 games to adjust to coordinator Pep Hamilton's offense. However, he has still failed to even sniff the 100-yard mark in any of them.
The conclusion drawn by many is that Richardson simply sin't as good as advertised, and he was certainly not worthy of a first-round pick.
Whether he is truly better than Brown is debatable, and Richardson likely has some years ahead of him to state his case. However, Brown has clearly been the more productive of the two with this team and in this offense. He has more yards, more scores and more long runs on fewer carries.
Until the Colts or Richardson can find a solution to his struggles, the former Alabama standout needs to simply do what is best for his current team. And at this point, Richardson's best option is to take a back seat to Brown and find a way to regain his form on the practice field.
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