Lost in the drama surrounding the Cleveland Browns’ 0-5 start and head coach Pat Shurmur’s daily struggle with the local media is the fact that running back Trent Richardson is having himself a great start to the season. This comes after undergoing arthroscopic surgery during training camp, putting everyone on edge as to whether he would be worthy of the No. 3 overall pick.
So far, he certainly has been. Through five games, Richardson has rushed for 303 yards, good enough for 16th in the league. He has also scored four touchdowns, which ties him for second in the NFL among running backs. Richardson’s real value, though, comes from his presence in the passing game, where he has 20 catches for 169 yards (and another touchdown tacked on). His 20 catches ranks him third among running backs, while his 169 yards puts him fourth.
There is no doubt that Richardson has been the team’s most valuable player on offense, and the argument can be made that he has been underutilized to this point. And with so many injuries to an already-thin group of wide receivers, the Browns will need to lean on Richardson even more.
It can’t be stressed enough, though, how important it has been for Richardson to establish himself early. The Browns have been in major need of offensive playmakers for a number of years now, and Richardson appears to be that kind of guy. His game against the New York Giants last week was all the evidence needed to prove that he is the real deal in the NFL.
The key now will be to build around Richardson, to take advantage of his talent by surrounding him with more playmakers. It’s easier said than done, but that’s, you know, sort of how things work in the NFL.
While everything else begins to crumble around him, Trent Richardson will continue to produce, as the Browns’ upcoming schedule doesn’t contain a lot of shutdown defenses. Maybe it’s a good thing Pat Shurmur and Brandon Weeden continue to make the headlines. Richardson seems content taking care of business regardless of the attention it receives.