Dealt some seven weeks ago, the sky seemed to be falling when running back Trent Richardson was shipped off to Indianapolis for the Colts first round pick in the 2014 draft.
Many around Cleveland and in the national media believed the Browns had thrown up the white flag and had given up on the 2013 season. Little did anyone know, myself included, that it would have been the smartest thing the front office would have done up to that point. Having played in two games prior to the trade, Richardson’s stat line was not impressive, to say the least.
Against the Dolphins, Richardson rushed the football 13 times for 47 yards and the following week against the Ravens, he rushed the football 18 times for 58 yards. For a guy drafted in the top three picks in 2012, these numbers were pedestrian at best, averaging 3.4 yards a carry.
At the time of the trade, the argument to be made, was the Browns offense was without wide receiver Josh Gordon and if they had just waited until he was back from suspension, his presence would have opened up the running lanes for Richardson. After all, this is the same guy who in his rookie year rushed 267 times for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With that being said, however, we never really focused on the yards per carry statistic. Even during his rookie campaign, he only averaged 3.6 yards a carry. If we take a look at a guy drafted nineteen spots later in Doug Martin, the stats are mind-blowing. Martin in 2012 rushed for 1,454 yards on 319 carries for 4.6 yards a carry and 11 touchdowns. That is almost five yards a carry from a guy that has the speed and burst that we thought we were gonna get when we drafted Richardson.
If you take a look at another guy, Alfred Morris, drafted in 2012 in the sixth round taken with the 173th pick, you will see similar stats to Doug Martin. In Morris’s rookie campaign, he rushed the football 335 times for 1,613 yards for 4.8 yards a carry and 13 touchdowns. Once again, if you take a look at the yards per carry it’s higher than Richardson’s.
After all the comparisons using Martin and Morris, you could argue that they were on better teams, with better quarterback play than the Browns.
So, using that theory, we then take a look at Richardson’s stats since he has been on a winning team, with an exceptional quarterback in Andrew Luck, and up until last week a legitimate superstar at wide receiver in Reggie Wayne. One would think that with this combination Richardson would clean up and showcase why he was the first running back taken in the 2012 draft.
Unfortunately, this scenario never came to fruition.
Since being traded to the Colts in week three, Richardson has failed to record a 100 yard rushing game and hasn’t eclipsed over 60 yards rushing since becoming a Colt. In week four against the woeful Jaguars, he managed just 60 yards on 20 carries for an average of 3.0 yards a carry. This past week against the Houston Texans depleted defense, he managed 20 yards on 8 carries.
As you can see, his numbers haven’t improved since being traded to the Colts, they have drastically gone down. If you take a look at the numbers, he went from the 12th-worst offensive line in the NFL to the league’s best, as far as run blocking statistics are concerned. Still missing is that burst and straight-line speed that made him very attractive in the 2012 draft, as a can’t miss franchise back.
Is it time to write Richardson off as a legitimate franchise running back in this league? It might still be a little early to make that assessment, but it’s starting to seem that way.
The one thing we do know however, is it seems the Browns front office does know what it’s doing, and has set themselves up for a very successful 2014 draft.
Only time will tell….